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

Nov 2, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:24 pm
St. George City Hall is pictured on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. Photo credit: Ravell Hall/Deseret News...
St. George City Hall is pictured on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. Photo credit: 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.


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.  

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

Elizabeth Weiler

Financial infidelity: What does the Utah data look like?

The average Utahn would 'reconsider their relationship' if their partner spent $5k without consulting them first, reveals research from coupon birds.
18 hours ago
Jeff Zeleny, Eva McKend and Gregory Krieg, CNN

Georgia voters once again have the last word during election season

During a campaign rally for Warnock in Atlanta last week, former President Barack Obama stressed the immediate impact of Democrats potentially winning a 51st Senate seat.
18 hours ago
The mayor of Provo, Utah, discusses how popular the city's four-day workweek has been, why it's pop...
Simone Seikaly

A 4-day workweek is working for Provo government

Provo Mayor Michelle Kafusi said she isn't surprised at the positive results reported after a global 4 day workweek pilot program.
18 hours ago
Great Salt Lake State Park and Marina...
Mark Jones

How much will it take to save the Great Salt Lake?

A bipartisan bill was passed in the U.S. Senate aimed at giving funding toward the study of The Great Salt Lake and other saline lakes in the west.
2 days ago
kindergarten gap year...
Tom Haraldsen

Checking in on the status of full-day kindergarten in Utah

Policy analyst with Voices for Utah Children reveals whether full-day kindergarten could be in the cards for next year.
2 days ago
A sale sign stands outside a home in Wyndmoor, Pa., Wednesday, June 22, 2022. If you’re settling ...
Curt Gresseth

Selling your home? Try staging your house, pro says.

A professional shares advice on staging a home before selling.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Canceling drag show will cost St. George taxpayers $600,000+