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Rolly: GOP makes play for fired Democratic Party staffer

Published July 25, 2013 7:03 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Since Melodia Gutierrez was forced to resign as Latino outreach director of the Utah Democratic Party, a number of Latinos have changed their party registration from Democratic to independent, sources tell me.

And not one to let an opportunity pass by, Republican State Chairman James Evans has approached Gutierrez about taking a similar role with the GOP.

The Republican Party is reaching out to Latinos, and Evans said the target groups have already developed a strong relationship with Gutierrez.

"I saw the effectiveness of her work. So it was wise for me to reach out," he said. "When you see talent, you want to utilize it for your side."

Gutierrez told me she was flattered, but she doesn't want to be a hypocrite by jumping from one party to the other.

Evans understands that, but he has left the door open.

"She comes from a Republican family," Evans said. "So I believe there are embers of Republicanism still within her."

No taking sides? • Some inside the Democratic Party say Melodia Gutierrez was let go because she violated party rules by working for a Democrat in the Salt Lake City Council District 7 race when other Democrats are running for that seat as well.

Incumbent Soren Simonsen is not seeking re-election and the three candidates vying to replace him — Deb Henry, Amy Barry and Topher Horman — are all known Democrats.

The party's rules prohibit its paid staffers from supporting one Democrat over another.

Democratic Chairman Jim Dabakis said that was not the reason Gutierrez was forced out, but he noted that her work on behalf of one Democrat — Barry — over the others was a concern in the party.

Gutierrez said there didn't seem to be a problem when she worked on the campaign of State Rep. Brian King when he had a primary with another Democrat.

The controversy exposes the myth that mayoral and city council races are non-partisan.

Speed trap alert • If you are traveling along 2700 East between 3900 and 4500 South, the speed limit drops from 40 mph to 30 mph and a Holladay cop is hiding in the church parking lot at the corner of 2700 East and 4500 South to nail you.

I got a ticket Tuesday for going 40 mph in a 30 mph zone by the cop, who after issuing me the ticket, circled back into the parking lot to wait for his next quota-fulfilling victim.

I got the ticket fair and square and will pay the fine. I won't be like Murray Mayor Dan Snarr and fight it all the way to the Supreme Court.

But I'm warning you to keep your speed at 30 on that road and thwart the speed trap — the combination of artificially low speed limits and cops lurking in the bushes to issue as many citations as possible, not for safety reasons but for enhanced city revenue.

Also, dear readers, if you know of other speed traps around the valley, let me know and I'll pass them along.

Civil disobedience • I'm reminded of an incident a few years ago in Ogden when a friend made a sign to warn motorists of a speed trap at the bottom of a steep hill.

Suddenly, nobody was going over the speed limit and the cops got suspicious. When they saw my friend with his sign, they became incensed, even though he was accomplishing what they supposedly cared about — keeping everyone driving at the speed limit.

When they confronted my friend, one put him in a choke hold which caused him to lose consciousness, and he ended up in the hospital.

When my friend served notice that he intended to sue, the Ogden city attorney filed misdemeanor charges against him, alleging he obstructed justice (for holding a sign), interfered with police business and assaulted an officer.

The judge in the case threw out the charges and berated the city attorney for his disingenuous tactics. Shortly after that, the city paid my friend a settlement.

prolly@sltrib.com