Politics • "Woman in Red" and "Blue Boy" locked in a staredown of dueling portraits.
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Deedee Corradini is back at the Mayor's Office.
Let's be clear, the woman in the red dress is not back in the Mayor's Office. Rather, the portrait of the two-term Salt Lake City mayor in her brilliant, crimson Napoleonic tunic is again stationed next to Mayor Ralph Becker's office at the south end of City Hall's third floor.
It's been a long banishment. Twelve years ago, newly elected Mayor Rocky Anderson unceremoniously wheeled Corradini well, her picture, anyway away from that spot to the far north end of the corridor to languish at the entrance of the City Council offices. Just deserts. Rocky wanted to be as far away from Deedee as he could get.
Answering an inquiry this week about the unannounced and sudden return of "The Woman in Red" to her former home, Becker chief of staff David Everitt smiled and answered obliquely with a reference to chronology and placement of the portraits of the city's 33 past mayors along the third-floor corridor.
Anderson's own likeness, painted in shades of blue blue pants, blue shirt, etc., reminiscent of Thomas Gainsborough's 1770 masterpiece, "Blue Boy" remains next to the Mayor's Office on the east wall.
Irony of ironies, now "Blue Boy" looks directly across the hallway into the eyes of the "Woman in Red."
Standing between them can be chilling. Passers-by can only imagine what the antagonists might say to each other after everyone exits for the evening. And it's a tossup as to who is tougher.
Anderson brought to City Hall a reputation as a crusader and bare-knuckled brawler that he earned as a civil rights attorney. As mayor, he had little patience for any city staffer who, in his eyes, couldn't measure up. Out they went.
He wasn't afraid to stand up to then-President George W. Bush, either. He turned castigating the commander in chief publicly over the Iraq war into something of an avocation.
Corradini, on the other hand, packed a different kind of toughness. Her broken-field running through various scandals Bonneville Pacific, giftgate, Olympic bidding recalled Chicago Bears' great Gale Sayers sashaying through a mob of would-be tacklers to reach the end zone unscathed. Pay dirt.
It was as though the power dresses she wore incorporated Teflon or some kind of "Star Trek" cloaking device. Some observers opined that she knew how to pull strings behind the scenes.
Who says history is boring even in Salt Lake City. Of course, Rocky and Deedee aren't the only intriguing figures hanging around City Hall's third floor.
Other legends • Race car driver Ab Jenkins steered the city through the war years from 1940 to 1944. More impressive perhaps is that Ab piloted his "Mormon Meteor" to the world land speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1950.
He strikes a Ted Williams-like pose at City Hall with the Mormon Meteor in the background. Those were the days.
Even more colorful, although in a much different way, is J. Bracken Lee, who offers up something of a snarl from his perch on a red chair.
A tough tax cutter, Lee was governor of Utah from 1949 to 1957 before being elected mayor. He then occupied Salt Lake City Hall's battlements for three terms.
"Brack," as he was known, was rough hewn and gritty, having cut his political teeth as mayor of Price, back in the mining town's heyday when it was a wealthy and wild burg boasting gambling and fast women.
The corridor's portraits hold cryptic evidence that City Hall hasn't always been as genteel as it may appear.
Take Jake Garn, for example. He was mayor before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974 and his language some say could be a little "salty." Salt Lake City's 28th mayor is in the tough category with Rocky and Brack.
Jake's got the right stuff, too. As a U.S. senator, he caught a ride on the space shuttle.
Recently, Garn, who still regularly pilots his own plane around northern Utah, came out in favor of SkiLink, a proposal for a gondola from Canyons Resort near Park City to Solitude in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
From his third-floor lair, Garn's cold stare drills across the hallway at the easygoing Ted Wilson, who flaunts a Gary Cooper stance with his jacket open as if he's ready to draw a six gun.
Wilson, who was mayor from 1976 to 1985, is remembered for marshaling forces during the infamous floods of 1983. He made a memorable run against Gov. Norm Bangerter in 1988 before overseeing the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics.
Wilson recently served as Gov. Gary Herbert's environmental adviser before joining Talisker, which owns Canyons. Like Garn, he favors SkiLink. At long last, the laid-back Democrat and the steely eyed Republican have something in common. Strange bedfellows.
Not surprisingly, Becker opposes SkiLink. He may be remembered as the "green" mayor, which may not sound as exciting as some of his colorful predecessors.
Five months into his second term, no scandals loom, and his chances of a world land speed record or blasting into space don't look great, either.
Becker has yet to commission a portrait. But it wouldn't be surprising if green bicycles or solar panels popped up in the background.
One last note: Upon each of the paintings, a small brass plaque like an epitaph identifies the likeness and when each served as mayor except for Anderson's, which bears none. It could hint that he isn't quite finished at City Hall.
Rocky III, anybody?
Salt Lake City's mayors
1851-1856 • Jedediah M. Grant
1857-1866 • Abraham O. Smoot
1866-1876 • Daniel H. Wells
1876-1882 • Feramorz Little
1882-1884 • William Jennings
1884-1886 • James Sharp
1886-1890 • Francis Armstrong
1890-1892 • George M. Scott
1892-1896 • R. N. Baskin
1896-1898 • James Glendinning
1898-1900 • John Clark
1900-1904 • Ezra Thompson
1904 -1906 • Richard P. Morris
1906-1907 • Ezra Thompson
1907-1912 • John S. Bransford
1912 -1916 • Samuel C. Park
1916-1920 • W. Mont Ferry
1920-1920 • Edmund A. Bock
1920-1928 • Charles Clarence Neslen
1928 -1932 • John F. Bowman
1932-1936 • Louis Marcus
1936-1938 • E. B. Erwin
1938-1940 • John M. Wallace
1940-1944 • Ab Jenkins
1944-1956 • Earl J. Glade
1956-1960 • Adiel F. Stewart
1960-1972 • J. Bracken Lee 1972-1974 • Jake Garn
1975-1976 • Conrad B. Harrison
1976-1985 • Ted Wilson
1985-1992 • Palmer DePaulis
1992-2000 • Deedee Corradini
2000-2008 • Rocky Anderson
2008 -present • Ralph Becker
Source: Salt Lake City Recorder's Office