Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Passion of the Rock

Alot has been said about Rocky's involvement in not only yesterday's war protests, but the Mayor's high-profile advocacy on issues like global warming, the drug war, and frank comments about the role of the LDS Church has netted his fair share of critics. However, something I think is lost on alot of these folks is that Rocky isn't the only person in the State of Utah that feels this way about these particular issues. In fact, I think that a majority of Salt Lakers are, at the very least, in silent agreement with what the Mayor says and does. I may be blinded by the insulation that my progressive Sugarhouse neighborhood provides against the conservative chill, but I have seen very few outspoken critics of the mayor that actually live within the city limits (besides some rantings in the Public Forum section of the Trib).

A couple of years ago, my good friend's elderly mother called SLC Public Works to complain about a broken storm drain cover in the street in front of her house. No help came from the bowels of the City-County building, so she then contacted the Mayor's office. To her surpise, the Mayor himself came on the line and had the drain replaced the next day. I felt that this was the rule rather than the exception for Rocky, because I spotted him in the grocery store late one night and indulged in a 20-minute rant about the atrocious design of the new Walgreen's on 400 South. He listened, offered a gentle explanation of the shortcomings of the planning process and land entitlements and then profusely thanked me for bringing my concerns to his attention. This guy is known to work 18-hour days on end and much to the chagrin of some over-powdered advisors, expects the same from his staff. What's baffling then is to hear that the Mayor in only interested in his own publicity and that he should be attending to the needs of the city.

Equally confusing is how some folks complain about how Rocky is an embarrassment to this state and how, in particular with the VFW convention, he is going to scare away economic development. I do not know how this jibes with the fact that the two largest economic events in this state are the Outdoor Retailers Convention and the Sundance Film Festival. I was in Colorado Springs over the weekend and spoke to a couple of folks in the community about the Christian Right's attempt to make their fair city the world capital of Evangelical Jesus-screeching. "That will never happen," my wise Springs-mover-and-shaker acquaintance said, "because the business community will never let it happen. We do not want the same image problem that Salt Lake City has." After enduring the obligatory digs about how many wives I had and if the first drink I'd ever had was the one I was holding right there and then in Colorado, I explained that SLC had a strong liberal base and that it was starting to spill over in the rest of the valley, and will probably start chipping away on the State' monolithic power structure. It seems that everyone agrees that SLC is a beautiful place with ridiculously great skiing, but the "Mormon thing" will always stifle any substantial investment here.

So to those who seethe at a politician who is not afraid to do and say things that aren't in keeping with traditional Utah "pleasantness," you may find that a lively civic dialogue will do more to make us a stronger community than keeping in lockstep with the presiding brethren. After all, anything else would be......communism.