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Paul Rolly: Did Salt Lake County show too much pride?

Published June 12, 2013 6:55 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Salt Lake County Council Chairman Steve DeBry has asked county officials to determine the legality of the county's participation in the Pride Parade, which celebrates equality for gays and lesbians.

DeBry was the only council member to vote against the county registry that allows couples to enroll to share benefits and other privileges regardless of marital status. But, he says, the nature of the organization behind Pride Day events has nothing to do with his inquiry. He said he is acting on the concerns of a constituent who asked whether the Pride Parade was a political event, since the county is prohibited from endorsing partisan political activities.

The complaint focused on the County Library Services Department whose staffers carried a banner in the parade with the county library's logo and a statement of support for the parade's theme of equality: "Salt Lake County Library Staff Supports Equality for All."

"I would have the same question of any event the county is involved in, including the Celebration of Marriage conference" scheduled for June 26 at the SouthTowne Exposition Center, DeBry said.

Library Services Director Jim Cooper said the library participates in nearly three dozen parades, festivals and fairs each year. The idea is to be involved in the community and promote the services the county library system has to offer.

Annual events in which the library participates include the Days of '47 Parade, the Hispanic Fiesta, the Asian Festival, the Girl Scout Cookie parties, the Boy Scout Jamboree, the Senior Expo, the Safe Kids Fair and the Spanish Small Business Conference.

Cooper said he has heard no complaints about participation in any of the other events, and this is the first time he has had a complaint about the Pride Parade, even though the library system has participated in that event three years in a row.

Bryan Maxwell, DeBry's administrative assistant, said he had talked with a deputy Salt Lake County district attorney who told him there didn't appear to be a violation.

District Attorney Sim Gill, while noting his office has not been asked for a formal opinion, elaborated on his deputy's comment.

"Our initial take is that it is not a partisan event and does not constitute a political agency," Gill said. "County agencies have participated in multiple events to promote a service and do community outreach."

A win-win situation • Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics play in the Overstock.com, or O.co, Coliseum, named after the Utah-based online marketing giant, which has a long-standing offer of $10,000 to a random fan if a home run is hit through the company's "O" logo just beyond the left-field wall.

That has never happened during a game. But last week, Oakland third-baseman Josh Donaldson hit one into the "O" during batting practice.

Since there were no fans there to claim the prize and it was done during practice, not a game, there was no obligation to award $10,000 to anyone.

But, says Overstock.com President Stormy Simon: "The possibility of the ball hitting the Overstock.com bull's-eye is very slim. The fact that it happened is amazing and cause for celebration. So, we're celebrating in a way the A's and their fans would appreciate, by making a $10,000 donation in Josh Donaldson's name to the Wounded Warrior Project," which helps war-wounded soldiers.

Another win-win • The Fort Douglas Military Museum, which is hosting Fort Douglas Day at the historic fort's parade grounds Saturday, is offering to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts the opportunity to earn an Official Patriotic Walk Merit Badge.

Veteran experts will be on hand as guides to help answer the Official Patriotic Walk questionnaire to earn the patch.

prolly@sltrib.com