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Rolly: Utah Republicans ask, 'Where's George?'

Published August 30, 2012 5:03 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

By all accounts, the Utah delegation at the Republican National Convention has been treated royally in Tampa.

Two prominent Utahns, Congressman Jason Chaffetz and congressional candidate Mia Love, were given speaking gigs. Utah delegates had private breakfast meetings with GOP stars Chris Christie and Marco Rubio, the latter bringing the house down when he talked about his lifelong love of BYU football.

But the respect for the Utah delegation in Tampa couldn't save George Zinn.

Zinn is a Republican supporter who has never held a position in the party, has no visible means of support, wears faded jeans, work shirts and tennis shoes to the fancy events, but always mysteriously shows up to anything the Utah Republican Party is involved with — including the national conventions, although nobody knows how he manages to get there.

In many ways, he has become the unofficial mascot of the Utah Republican contingent, and several months ago, when he was thrown in the Davis County Jail for failing to pay fines for riding TRAX and FrontRunner trains without proof of payment, Salt Lake County Councilman and former GOP State Chairman Richard Snelgrove launched a fundraising drive to pay the $1,700 in outstanding fines to "free George."

In 1988, as the story goes, Zinn appeared at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans but had no place to stay. So T.H. Bell, the Utahn who was Ronald Reagan's secretary of education, let him sleep on a cot in his hotel room.

But when Zinn showed up at the Airport Hilton in Tampa to hang around with the Republican delegation and seek help getting into their various events, hotel security would have nothing of it.

Once they realized Zinn was not an official member of the delegation, or a guest of the hotel, he was forced to leave, despite protestations from some of the Utah delegates who pleaded with the guards to let him be.

"That might be how you do it in Utah," one guard reportedly said, "but that's not how we do it in Florida."

Zinn was booted out of the hotel lobby on Wednesday and hasn't been seen since.

Dudley Do-Right • Speaking of security guards, leaders of an LDS ward youth group in the Butler West Stake learned all about over-zealous wannabe cops recently.

They took about a dozen teens to the City Creek Center to view and take pictures of the various store fronts as part of a "youth activity."

The atmosphere was bustling and festive and a live band was performing outside. Two girls in the youth group got caught up in the moment, walked over by the band and danced a little jig for a few seconds. The band liked it, as did the bystanders.

But a City Center security guard apparently saw the moment as an opportunity to play tough guy.

He tapped one of the young women on the shoulder and told her if he saw her do that again, he would kick her out.

Palace coup? • In its story Wednesday about the Republican National Convention, USA Today promoted Utah Republican State Chairman Thomas Wright.

The paper, quoting Wright, identified him as the governor of Utah.

Not sure how Gary Herbert took the news.

Tea party patriotism goes just so far • Here's the latest example of tea party hotbeds where people hate the federal government and want it out of our lives, then greedily take its money.

In St. George, which is one of the most conservative and vocally anti-federal government areas in Utah, The Spectrum ran a story Wednesday noting that "local officials plan to use a half-million dollar federal grant to help start a new flight at the St. George Municipal Airport. St. George City leaders are discussing adding a flight to Denver at the airport, which currently offers daily round-trip flights to Salt Lake City and Los Angeles via SkyWest Airlines."

prolly@sltrib.com