Two Democratic Salt Lake County Commission candidates say the Salt Palace is being mismanaged.
Repeating choruses of the same song they have been singing throughout the campaign, Jim Bradley and Randy Horiuchi at a Thursday morning press conference called for Commissioner Bart Barker, a Republican, to be removed from administering the facility.Bradley, who is running for Barker's seat, says Barker showed highly questionable ethics on at least two occasions when his campaign manager and former administrative assistant, Scott Brown, represented special interests.
Brown was one of a team of attorneys representing Spectacor in negotiating the private management company's contract with Salt Lake County. He also represented To-Ro, an out-of-state company that sponsored a sportsmen's show at the Salt Palace, allegedly in competition with the long-established Greenband Enterprises' Utah Boat, Sports and Travel Show.
To-Ro also presented a $500 check to Barker, Horiuchi said. Horiuchi is challenging Commissioner Tom Shimizu in the upcoming election.
Bradley and Horiuchi maintain that county booking policy was superseded to allow Brown's client to produce the competing show. Greenband filed a lawsuit against the county for violating its policy of exclusivity in bookings.
Horiuchi called for a "Michael Deaver" rule to bar former county managers from lobbying the commission on county issues. He also asked that the Salt Lake County Advisory Board be given more authority in order to provide a check-and-balance for the commission.
Despite the recent privitization of the Salt Palace through a contract with Spectacor, both candidates called for continued vigilance in overseeing the facility. Most of the problems at the Salt Palace have been created by the commission, they said.
"The best private managers in the world will still have problems if the commission on top doesn't have it together, sort of the burned birthday cake with frosting on top," Horiuchi said.
"You may have noticed Barker's campaign slogan this year, `people before politics,' " Bradley said at the press conference in front of Acord Arena.
"Every time you see his slogan on a billboard, I want you to ask yourself: `Shouldn't it really read: Barker's people, then politics?' "