St. George taxpayers are on the hook for a $625,000 settlement with former City Manager Adam Lenhard who resigned because of controversy surrounding a drag show on public property in June. A Facebook post from a St. George City Council member almost cost them an additional $50,000.
In late May and early June, the HBO program “We’re Here” filmed an episode in and around St. George. That included a drag show at Town Square downtown. An open records request revealed the city council ordered Lenhard and his staff to cancel permits for the show, but he refused because he felt it would lead to a costly lawsuit against the city. Lenhard later resigned under pressure because of that decision.
In addition to the $625,000 payment, the settlement agreement with the city blocked both Lenhard and the city from making disparaging comments about each other. Breaking that part of that agreement carried a $50,000 penalty.
In an Oct. 27 email obtained through an open records request, Lenhard claimed an Oct. 26 post by Councilmember Michelle Tanner violated that agreement and requested that the council approve an additional $50,000 payment to him for that violation.
“She refers to me by name and states and infers that I broke laws in issuing the special event permit for the We’re Here show,” Lenhard wrote. “Not only are these remarks damaging to my character and in clear violation of the terms of the Settlement Agreement, but they also create unwarranted hate and anger towards me and my family.”
In the now-deleted Facebook post, Tanner pushed back against The Tribune’s reporting about Lenhard’s resignation and the subsequent settlement with the city.
“The article’s main image being that of drag queens, rather than a picture of Adam or the City of St. George, gives little doubt the author’s intent was to sell news subscriptions and make Adam’s resignation and rumored settlement only about drag shows,” Tanner wrote.
“City ordinances were violated, contracts revised and approved in record time,” the post continued.
Tanner told The Tribune in a text message that she had not violated the terms of the agreement, and Lenhard had dropped his claim against the city. Lenhard confirmed he had withdrawn the request for an additional payment.
“I did, on the condition that she made no further disparaging remarks,” Lenhard said.
St. George City officials confirmed Lenhard dropped his claim against the city after he spoke with Tanner and confirmed that no further payment had been made to Lenhard.
This was not the first time Tanner had attacked Lenhard on social media. On June 26, Tanner wrote a Facebook post that tore into Lenhard’s handling of the permits for the show.
According to the settlement agreement, City Council members told Lenhard they were removing him from his job during a closed-door meeting on July 14. Lenhard believed he had a valid legal claim against the city, which prompted the city to bring in an independent mediator to conduct an investigation and craft the settlement agreement.
On Sept. 1, the City Council voted 4-1 to approve the settlement with Lenhard. Tanner was the only member of the council to vote against the agreement. In addition to the $625,000 payment, the agreement also gave Lenhard $25,000 in severance.