Two stories from today's Trib.
The first, a column by Holly Mullen—I normally consider Mullen a stellar nitwit, but I agree with her 100% today—takes Nancy Workman to task for her recent tactic of calling the charges against her politically motivated, and incorporating that sentiment into her reelection campaign advertisements. Mullen also chastises Workman's bitching about not getting a speedy trial when it was her own tactics that required the special-prosecutor appointment that is now delaying her trial even further.
Workman's run the county goverment with a gross sense of entitlement, and it's caught up to her.The second story (updated this afternoon) gives details about the special prosecutor appointed to handle the case by District Attorney David Yocom, and touches on the ethical reasons the appointment was considered necessary by Yocom's office.
I readily admit that I'm following this story with something close to glee. I don't like Nancy Workman for several reasons, not the least of which is her propensity for slapping her name on any building even remotely related to county business—do golfers hitting the links at the county-run courses really give a damn who the county mayor is, for crying out loud?—and I've found her "This entire prosecution is politically motivated" tactics reprehensible.
Workman's run the county goverment with a gross sense of entitlement, and it's caught up to her. I'll be watching developments closely.
Incidentally, I was interested to see the link to Mullen's column moved off the Trib's home page after they posted the story update about the special-prosecutor appointment. Mullen's an opinion columnist, but apparently her opinion was no longer welcome for easy dissemination once the prosecutor was named.
Trib drives me freakin' nuts.
All that said, on to the stories:
The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.—Groucho MarxYou might call old Groucho's take on life a bit cynical, except for when it's true. Take one more day in the life of Nancy Workman, for instance. The embattled Salt Lake County mayor made her first appearance in 3rd District Court on Monday on two felony charges for misusing public funds. As she has been throughout this whole mess, Workman was in fine fettle—working overtime as the queen of entitlement. Pushing the edges, pressing the system.
Workman's attorney tried to waive all other preliminary hearings and fast-track her case to trial. But on the same day, that pain-in-the-backside David Yocom showed up again, acting all officious and announcing his decision to appoint a special prosecutor in the case. This will only further delay a trial.
D.A. Yocom says the move was necessary to deflect Workman's continued claims of partisanship in the prosecution of her alleged diversion of county Health Department funds to the South Valley Boys and Girls Club, which helped her daughter, the club's chief financial officer. The jabs at Yocom are now showing up—just more denial du jour—in Workman's recent ad blitz. "It's just politics," says a brusque motorist.
Workman foreshadowed her plans for this attempt at a judicial three-minute mile last weekend before the county's Republican Central Committee. She showed up, not like earlier this month in T-shirt and jeans smeared with horse snot, but in a business suit. With just a sliver of contrition for causing the GOP stress, she told the party powerful she absolutely must get to trial before Election Day.
Really, just who do the rest of us think we are? And don't these little legal people in big black robes know who she is? As for all those accused thugs, kidnappers and drunken drivers cooling their heels in the county jail, some of whom have waited months for their day in court, well so? They're getting three squares a day. What's another month or two?
Nancy Workman has places to go, surely a few more buildings to stamp her name on within our wallowing county government. She has a pricey lawyer, not some public defender in a rumpled suit who barely knows his client's name. She hired Greg Skordas, Democratic candidate for attorney general, largely because he once worked under Yocom, and has the inside poop on the way the system works.
Translation: Surely the guy knows how to schmooze judges and how to wheedle a quick court date on the docket when he needs one.
The hubris of it all would be laughable if it weren't so chilling. Somewhere in this process, you have to hope someone is handing the mayor a clue, giving her a sign. That someone is telling her the system is supposed to work equally for all, and that there are actually times when political connections and election outcomes count for less than zero.
Somewhere along her journey, hope that our mayor on paid leave is learning something of the un-Groucho approach to honesty and fair play. That is, the real deal. Maybe, too, that someone will introduce her to another lady of genuine standing and lofty position: Blind Justice.
District Attorney David Yocom this morning named Murray attorney Michael Martinez as the special prosecutor to try Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman on two felony charges of misuse of public money.
Martinez, who has served as a defense attorney and prosecutor, has been active in Republican politics. In 2001, he sued a former GOP county commissioner after she broke a campaign promise and accepted a severance package. He now has discretion to try the charges against the Republican mayor, make a plea deal or dismiss the felonies.
Martinez said during a morning news conference that Workman, who is on paid leave and is continuing her re-election bid, has carried out a "shrill" political attack against Yocom, a Democrat, blaming him for a partisan prosecution. Martinez said Yocom had no choice but to remove himself from the prosecution.
"Ethically, I don't think the District Attorney's Office had a choice," Martinez said.
He added that he could be ready for a jury trial soon but that it may not be fair to other incarcerated defendants who already are awaiting trial. Nevertheless, Martinez said he would not object to Workman's attorneys waiving other hearings and going directly to trial if a judge agrees.
For his part, Yocom said he handed off the case because Workman publicly "intimated" that her new attorney, Greg Skordas, would have influence on the district attorney and because Workman launched a "major media" campaign "stating that her legal problems were all based on politics, inferring that she was the victim of a political prosecution."
"I've got to eliminate that" allegation, Yocom said. "I've got to appear above reproach."
Yocom announced Monday that his office would step aside from the case, a move that brought denouncements by Workman's lawyers that the district attorney was attempting to delay a speedy trial for the mayor, who is seeking a second term.
Yocom charged Workman with second- and third-degree felonies for allegedly breaking state law by tapping Health Department funds to pay two successive bookkeepers at the South Valley Boys and Girls Club, where the mayor's daughter is the chief financial officer. Workman has admitted to bureaucratic mistakes, but says the action was not criminal.
Skordas said in a court filing Monday that he objected to the selection of a special prosecutor. He said the mayor has never alleged "unprofessional or unethical conduct by the District Attorney's Office, either in her political advertising, in statements or otherwise."
But Workman did say in a statement Sept. 1 that the findings of a bipartisan panel of outside prosecutors was tainted because an investigator working for Yocom was still involved.
"It is regrettable that so many precious resources would be used for someone's political agenda," Workman said, adding that she did not know what criteria the panel used to find charges warranted.
"I only spent one-half hour with them [panelists], while the DA's investigator—the same one that threatened my daughter on the day before her wedding—spent two months and countless taxpayer dollars building a case and crafting an investigation to meet the DA's political agenda."
Workman is referring to an accusation that investigator Craig Watson threatened to arrest her daughter, Aisza Wilde, for obstruction of justice during the investigation. Wilde was not arrested nor charged in the case.
The mayor's latest campaign commercial also features residents dismissing the charges as a political ploy.
Yocom's office responded to Skordas' filing on Tuesday morning, saying that Skordas cited a statute dealing with a special prosecutor in grand jury cases and that the law does not affect criminal prosecutions.