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Paul Rolly: Murray mayor’s speeding ticket turns into political circus

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Rick Egan | Tribune file photo Murray Mayor Dan Snarr

By paul rolly

Tribune Columnist

First published May 07 2013 07:11PM
Updated May 9, 2013 07:58PM

Murray Mayor Dan Snarr’s speeding ticket dispute with Salt Lake City is attracting more interest among politicians than the recent Salt Lake County and Utah County Republican conventions.

Snarr, you may recall, got a ticket while returning from a legislative committee meeting in February for speeding in a school zone.

He entered a left-turn lane on State Street to go onto Harvard Avenue, but noticed at the last minute it was a one-way street, so he sped up to get back into the through lanes.

He argued with the cop and is insisting on a trial in Salt Lake City Justice Court because the flashing school-zone light in the State Street median was broken. The cop said he should have noticed the working flashing light on the far right-hand side of the street.

Snarr has questioned whether revenue for the city was the motivation for the ticket and plans to call Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank as one of his nine witnesses.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker has told Snarr he will appear as a character witness.

Now, State Auditor John Dougall wants to get into the act.

Dougall’s office contacted Snarr for the trial date and the auditor told me he might show up at the trial to observe how the justice court system is operating. He said he is contemplating a possible audit of justice courts statewide to determine if their priority is to administer justice or raise revenue for the city.

Justice Court judges formerly worked at the pleasure of mayors and city councils, but the Legislature amended the law to address perceptions the judges were biased in favor of issuing fines to generate more money for the city and make his or her bosses happy.

Now, a nominating commission in each county pares the applicants down based on qualifications and sends their approved list to the mayor. Instead of the mayor rehiring the judge after his or her term is expired, the judges now stand for retention elections, just like district court judges.

Game of musical chairs? The Utah Legislature’s House District 57 is getting curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say.

With just one legislative session under his belt, Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, has some fellow Republicans talking about dumping him in the 2014 convention.

Holly Richardson, the popular conservative blogger and former representative of that northern Utah County District, says she is seriously considering challenging Greene for the nomination next year at the urging of a number of Republicans in her district.

Richardson eventually resigned her seat to work on the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Dan Liljenquist and Greene was elected to the open seat in 2012.

Greene has emerged as such a strident gun-rights legislator he has made some of his fellow Second Amendment protectors in the House cringe with his comments. He has been described as Carl Wimmer on steroids.

I wrote about Greene in Monday’s column after he earned brickbats from some quarters over his suggestion the Boston Police couldn’t catch the marathon bomber so a private citizen had to do it.

Richardson was elected to the District 57 seat in a special election after the previous incumbent, Craig Frank, had to step down because, unbeknownst to him, he didn’t live in the district.

Now, Richardson, Frank and Greene live in the reconstituted district after the Legislature drew new legislative boundaries in 2011.

prolly@sltrib.com

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