This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
State Sen. Jim Dabakis was so upset about the last-minute amendment to the prison-relocation bill allowing Salt Lake City to impose a half-cent sales-tax increase if it is selected, he says he is seriously considering running for mayor this year.
"I'm about 75-25 in favor of running," Dabakis said. "If I make the commitment, it will be a 24-7 job for me, running for mayor."
Dabakis, former chairman of the Utah Democratic Party who won election to a four-year Senate term in 2014, says he will hire a company to do polling for him to help determine what kind of chances he would have if he runs.
Mayor Ralph Becker, who is seeking a third term, already has two announced opponents: former state Rep. Jackie Biskupski and Salt Lake City Councilman Luke Garrott.
Those two candidates also have raised the last-minute sales-tax-hike deal as an issue.
Dabakis said he believes he has ideas to boost the city's economy by stressing the arts and cultural assets to bring more tourists to the city on their way to "the greatest national parks on the planet" in southern Utah.
"We need to invest in and promote our dazzling arts and theater, and bring millions of people to the city to spend a couple of nights on their way to the natural wonders of southern Utah," he said. "It could change the economy of the city."
But what got him seriously weighing a run was what occurred during the final minutes of the last night of the legislative session March 12.
Dabakis said a sales-tax increase if Salt Lake City got the prison would be a double slap. Not only would it be an imposition on the city's west-siders, who don't want the prison near them, but they would have to pay more sales tax for the pleasure.
"There were no hearings, no discussions, nobody on the Democratic side of the aisle were made aware of it before it happened. That's just not the way we should be doing business."
Becker has said he strongly opposes the prison moving to Salt Lake City, and Dabakis believes him. But the mayor long has advocated for an optional sales-tax increase to tap additional funding to offset the impact on his city from daily commuters and tourists.
Still, Dabakis doesn't like how the idea got into a bill. "This last-minute deal on the sales-tax increase," he said, "has me really upset."
Yellow or orange? • Matt Lyon, who is managing Becker's re-election campaign, took exception to my Friday column in which I said some St. Patrick's Day parade spectators were aghast that the mayor's campaign workers were decked out in orange T-shirts while marching in the event.
Orange can be a divisive color among the Irish faithful, representing William of Orange, whose subjugation of the Irish during his reign as king of England makes him a hated figure.
Lyon and others say the T-shirts were yellow, not orange. An argument certainly can be made that the color is closer to gold than orange, but a number of observers, including some members of the Hibernian Society, which sponsors the parade, saw orange.
Maybe next time, the campaigners should just don green T-shirts, since the theme of the parade was "Going Green," and make everybody happy.