DAVE & DUJANOVIC

Canceling drag show will cost St. George taxpayers $600,000+

Nov 2, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:19 am

The Southern Utah Drag Stars have filed a lawsuit against the city of St. George, the St. George Ci...

FILE: St. George City Hall is pictured on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. The Southern Utah Drag Stars have sued the city of St. George, alleging violations of the group's First Amendment rights. (Ravell Hall/Deseret News)

(Ravell Hall/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Taxpayers in St. George will be paying the city manager more than $600,000 to leave his job and not sue the city for breach of contract after he approved a HBO drag-show performance in the Town Square during the summer.

In early October, Mayor Michele Randall and the City Council announced City Manager Adam Lenhard would leave the city “to pursue other opportunities,” according to a statement provided to KSL.com.

No to drag show in St. George

The City Council opposed hosting the drag show because of its mature content and asked Lenhard to void the show’s permit.

Councilwoman Michelle Tanner compared the drag show to a “strip show” or nudist club in text messages, according to KSL.com.

“Overwhelmingly” people in the community “would agree that a drag show would be offensive and lack scientific values,” Tanner wrote, adding “sexuality” would be the “whole theme” of the show in a text exchange between Tanner and Lenhard.

“Unless the production violates a law, I think their right to use the park is protected under the First Amendment. A private property owner could exclude anyone for any reason, but the government can’t restrict their speech or expression on public property,” Lenhard texted, adding that he was told none of the drag show participants would be “nude or indecent.”

The show was part of HBO’s “We’re Here” drag show tour, which visits smaller US cities and towns, particularly in the South and Southwest.

Drag show and the law

KSL legal analyst Greg Skordas joins KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic with Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to provide insight into the dispute in St. George.

“In your view is this drag show free speech and the city manager was right?” Debbie asked.

“Yeah, Debbie, I really think it is,” Skordas replied.

He added if an event protected by the First Amendment, such as the Ku Klux Klan marching in a town or city, is likely to incite violence, then the city can take action to prevent that from occurring.

“But in this case, they [city leaders] really didn’t have anything that would make this seem or appear to be illegal or inappropriate,” Skordas said. “I mean, maybe it’s not the most family-friendly thing, and I can understand people being concerned about that. So keep the family away. And I think that’s what the First Amendment would allow in a case like this.”

Skordas added all parties in this dispute should have consulted better with one another before the decision was made to approve the drag show.

Related:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Dave & Dujanovic

Life jackets are pictured at the Saratoga Springs Marina at Utah Lake on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022....

Curt Gresseth

Come on in, the water’s fine (but remember to wear a life jacket)

The Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation law enforcement chief shares his knowledge and experience with selecting the right life jacket and using it safely.

4 days ago

High amounts of spring runoff cause swelling of rivers across the state....

Esme Sanchez Estevez

Spring runoff concerns in Salt Lake County

Kade Moncur, Director of Public Works Engineering with Salt Lake County talk through the recent spring runoff concerns with resources to be use this summer.

4 days ago

Yardley Makefield Marine Rescue leaving the Yardley Boat Ramp along N. River Road heading down the ...

Curt Gresseth

Utah experts share life-saving boat safety tips

As spring moves into summer, two Utah experts share their knowledge and experience about boat safety.

6 days ago

Police in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, detain people pulled from a U-Haul truck near the city's Pride cele...

Curt Gresseth

Lawyer rips Idaho prosecutor for not charging 18-year-old man, who allegedly yelled racist and sexual slurs at U. women’s basketball players

KSL's legal analyst criticizes a northern Idaho prosecutor's decision not to charge a young man accused of shouting racist and sexual slurs at black players on the University of Utah women's basketball team while in Coeur d'Alene.

10 days ago

walmart store sign covered, walmart hiring people without college degrees for high-paying positions...

Sam Herrera

LISTEN: Walmart hiring more workers without college degrees for high-paying corporate jobs

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Walmart U.S. CEO spoke on the company's efforts to hire and promote employees without college degrees.

12 days ago

Utah teacher starting pay is 10th in the nation....

Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic

Would you choose to be a teacher if your starting salary was $49,555?

An April report found the Utah teacher average starting pay sat shy of $50,000 in the 2022-2023 school year.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Canceling drag show will cost St. George taxpayers $600,000+