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Trains & Bombs & Pains



At this very moment dozens of security planners are wracking their brains, searching for ways to keep the 2002 Winter Games safe from the possibility of terrorists and unruly demonstrators, like those strange grunge fans that painted Seattle red during the World Trade Organization meetings last year.

It’s a big job and apparently quite confusing. Sen. Orrin Hatch wants to hold a hearing just to make sure security arrangements between Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, state and federal agencies, not to mention SLOC, are coming together. Apparently he’s heard that there have been some turf wars. But for their part, the security people wish Orrin would just mind his own business.

The whole thing flared up a couple of months ago when we learned that the light rail spur being built specifically to take visitors to Rice-Eccles stadium for Olympic ceremonies and events wouldn’t run during the Games for security purposes. It caused a lot of head-shaking: We’re going to build a new transportation system for the Olympics but after it’s built we won’t run it during the Games because it’s too dangerous? Go figure.

Here’s the latest twist on Olympic transportation: The Main Street light rail line will run during the 17 days of Salt Lake City’s Olympics, and a new proposal would have it make regular stops in front of the LDS Temple.

Now let’s see if we’ve got this straight: We can’t run the light rail to Rice-Eccles because someone could put a bomb on board and blow up the stadium. But the light rail can run to Temple Square because terrorists won’t put a bomb on the train when it’s headed there? Maybe we do need Orrin’s help, after all.

This whole Olympic thing is giving Mayor Rocky Anderson heartburn. Recently, he told the ACLU to shape up when it tried to pin down locations for so-called “free-speech zones,” where demonstrators could carry placards and yell into bullhorns. The mayor was so piqued that he said the ACLU was grandstanding.

Howling laughter was heard in the background.

To make the snit between the mayor and the ACLU even messier, Salt Lake City’s daily newspapers focused on the Lil’ Bit ‘O Paris park in front of the Temple where the light rail will be stopping without terrorists or bombs. The ACLU apparently asked the mayor to see if the LDS church would lighten up a bit during the Games so visitors wearing T-shirts that say things like, “Got Wives?” wouldn’t be unceremoniously tossed on the tracks, possibly getting squished by the light rail—the one without the terrorists.

Rocky said he’d think about it and then told the ACLU to buzz off. He’s pained that the civil rights organization has appealed its suit against the city for the sale of that block of Main Street to the LDS church. “This seems like a vendetta,” the mayor snapped.

More howling laughter was heard in the background.

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