Summarized by Kent Larsen
Different City Council, Same Decision: LDS Church to Build Main Street Plaza
Salt Lake Tribune 17May00 N1
By Rebecca Walsh: Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Even thought the Salt Lake City Council has
different members from the council that approved the sale of a block-long
section of main street to the LDS Church, the council still approved the
April 1999 decision, passing an amendment affirming and clarifying the
The city council has three new members, and since the April decision, it has
heard public complaints and had to pay to defend the city in two lawsuits
filed by the ACLU over the decision. But the council still says that the
decision to sell was their intention. "I was here last April," said
Councilman Keith Christensen. "We had a very careful, very open, very
deliberate discussion. This body understood exactly what it was doing. This
action only helps others understand our intention."
Last night's decision came at the suggestion of City Attorney Roger Cutler,
who thinks that the decision will help avoid the second lawsuit filed by the
ACLU. The second lawsuit is more concerned with the process the city used to
pass the ordinance than the constitutionality of the sale, which is the
subject of the first lawsuit.
The three new council members, all of whom are LDS Church members, all voted
to adopt the amendment and approve the sale. The only non-LDS Church member
on the council, Tom Rogan, voted against the amendment. Rogan says that the
problem comes from how the sale was presented to the public, "The problem is
one of twisted presentations," Rogan said. "One of the church officials said
this would be a 'little bit of Paris.' It would have been better if they
would have said it's going to be a little piece of the Vatican. Then the
community's expectations at least would have been realistic.
"There's great concern here that what we characterized as the public process
of approving this deal was actually a charade, a charade that was really a
mockery of the public process," Rogan added.
And ACLU Attorney Stephen Clark indicates that last night's decision may
have actually given him more ammunition, because the amendment was approved
without a public hearing. He told the Salt Lake Tribune he hasn't decided
whether to keep pursuing the second lawsuit, or to drop it, "The charade and
the mockery continues," Clark said. "The council tonight proposes to rewrite
history, but it can't erase the past."