This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A group of Utah legislators are quietly planning a coup in the state House of Representatives.
The instigators, mostly based in Utah County, have been talking to Republican House members about assembling a slate of candidates for leadership positions in the House. The idea is to overthrow House Speaker David Clark, R-Santa Clara, but those involved believe a team-candidate approach has a better chance of succeeding than if someone challenges the speaker on his or her own.
Several scenarios have been discussed about who would run for speaker and who would be on the slate of other leadership candidates, but Wednesday the picture became clearer.
Rep. Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, appears to be the candidate the slate will run for speaker, according to comments made during the last interim committee day at the Capitol. Lockhart is the assistant majority whip, but there has been tension between her and other House leaders.
Wayne Harper, R-West Jordan, has been tagged as the slate's candidate for majority leader. Harper told me earlier that he was approached to run as part of a slate, but at that time hadn't committed.
Rep. Craig Frank, R-Cedar Hills, is said to be the slate's majority whip choice, and the group is still looking for an assistant whip candidate.
The Utah County lawmakers behind the cabal reportedly are attempting to break up what they consider a Washington County-Weber County hold on the House. Clark is from Washington County, as is Rep. Brad Last, R-St. George, who is planning to run for assistant majority whip. House Majority Whip Brad Dee, R-Ogden, is from Weber County.
Harper, from Salt Lake County, is seen as someone who can provide geographical balance to the mostly Utah County group, but they so far have failed in their attempts to add someone from northern Utah.
Behind the scenes is Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, who reportedly wants to run for Congress. Wimmer is part of the Lockhart-Frank group, so he could have friendly leadership next year when the Legislature redraws political boundaries. Clark also has been mentioned as a possible congressional candidate, so he and Wimmer could be rivals.
A walk in the park? Jan Hemming took her dog to Laird Park in Salt Lake City's Yale-Harvard neighborhood Friday for a morning of toss ball, only to spend much of the rest of the day at a veterinarian's clinic.
After a few tosses, she noticed the moisture on the grass was not from the sprinklers, but had a smell to it. She then noticed two city parks workers loading tanks onto a truck, so she asked what they had just sprayed.
They told her it was a weed killer but wasn't toxic. Then they left.
She decided to do her own research on the Internet and discovered that the herbicide they used is indeed toxic and, according to some sites, has been linked to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, endocrine disruption, reproductive and developmental effects, as well as water contamination and toxicity to aquatic organisms.
Because her dog had the ball in his mouth after it had been soaked with the chemical, she took him to the vet. Several hours later, the dog was released and the vet said he should be OK, but he said the dog should be bathed to avoid any skin irritation.
Hemming went back to the park to warn other folks about the chemical and she called the parks department to complain that there were no warning signs.
Public Services Director Rick Graham said the product is safe because only about 23 percent of the compound contains the chemical. Also, the ratio of the chemical to water is far below the recommended ratio.
But he said the parks employees are supposed to remain after they spray to answer any questions. He also said from now on, there will be signs letting folks know the grass has been sprayed.