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Buttars trying to get back to work

Published February 21, 2008 1:46 am

Eagle Forum posts registry backing him and more than 100 sign
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After a week in relative seclusion, Sen. Chris Buttars is trying to shake off the controversy over statements he made that were perceived as racially insensitive and return to his official duties.

On Wednesday, three bills he is pushing were voted on by the Senate, and his plan to do away with Salt Lake City's domestic-partner registry could be up for debate as early as today.

"He's trying to get back to work," Sen. Dan Eastman, R-Bountiful, said Wednesday, in about the only comment Senate leaders would make on the Buttars situation.

Buttars voted against a bill Wednesday that would create a registry for minority-owned businesses that would help them compete for federal, state and private contracts set aside for such businesses.

Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, objected to the bill, questioning why businesses don't just compete equally.

"It seems like the white male is such a burden or frustration to society," she said. "I really have angst with the growing discrimination towards the white male family-oriented Christian male. I'm just really frustrated with that."

After the debate, Buttars said he agreed with Dayton's take on the issue, but wouldn't elaborate.

Meantime, an online petition supporting Buttars, posted by the Utah Eagle Forum, has received more than 100 signatures.

A rally Friday plans to use poetry or short essays in a sort of free-form open mic jam against the discrimination that organizers say are contained in Buttars' comments.

The West Jordan Republican came under fire Feb. 12 for saying of a school construction bill that he opposed: "This baby is black. . . . It's a dark, ugly thing."

The NAACP called on Buttars to resign, then blasted him again after he told The Salt Lake Tribune that he had become the target of a "hate lynch mob."

Buttars was confounded by the offense taken, and told the Tribune on Tuesday, "How do I know what words I'm supposed to use in front of those people?"

Buttars has had no contact with NAACP Salt Lake Chapter President Jeanetta Williams since the group criticized him for not appearing with the NAACP board in front of television cameras and reporters Tuesday evening.

Buttars said he had told the group he would not attend if media were present.

Buttars has steadfastly said that he never considered resigning and that he plans to run again in November.




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