Return of Spiderman | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Return of Spiderman 

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Was he ever gone? No, not Spiderman—Brent Overson, the man otherwise known as the Count Richelieu of Salt Lake County government.

Like Spiderman, the comic book character, Overson seems superhuman. It’s as though the guy has an exoskeleton and sticky feet and can walk up walls and across ceilings. He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere—just like bugs on stink. And he seems to be spinning a web of political intrigue wherever he goes.

For two terms, Overson was one of three all-powerful county commissioners. Because Spiderman—that is, Overson—was so much more slick than either of the other commissioners, Mary “Take the Money and Run” Callaghan and Mark “What, Me Worry?” Shurtleff, he ran things at the county like his own personal comic book.

Voters finally wised up and brought in a new form of government with a county mayor as the executive and a county council as the legislative branch. Overson was out of power. Or was he? Spiderman reappeared as Mayor Nancy Workman’s special envoy of all things special. The best part—he didn’t have to get elected.

• But after a lot of bad publicity from the frowny faces in the news media that seemed to point to Spiderman as the power beneath the mayor’s desk, a palace coup by Workman’s entourage deep-sixed Overson. But not for long.

Spiderman reappeared one week later as a representative for the Utah Children’s Museum, which has wrested control of the Hansen Planetarium for a move to the Boyer Company’s big, new Gateway development. It was enough to make County Councilman Jim Bradley gasp. “How can you represent the county one day and the Boyer Company the next?” Bradley asked incredulously. It was, after all, Workman and her special envoy, Spiderman, who successfully argued that the planetarium should move to Gateway. Was Spiderman playing both sides of the fence? No way, proclaimed Overson. “I’m representing the Children’s Museum, not Boyer.”


• But Spiderman never rests. Recently, Mayor Workman floated Overson’s name to replace Rick Davis as the president of the Salt Lake County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. It would be another plum job. The question is, will that be enough for Spiderman? Will he be satisfied booking a bunch of boring conventions?

• In the next episode: Spiderman comes back as the world’s slickest lobbyist, representing anybody with lots of money and power.

Maybe Spiderman can help out with the TRAX debacle surrounding the 2002 Winter Games. The east-west spur from Main Street to Rice-Eccles Stadium will be completed in time for the Opening Ceremonies, but some law enforcement officials don’t want the train to run because terrorists could use it to deliver a bomb or something. It’ll be a total bummer if we can’t show off our new train during the Olympics. Perhaps Spiderman could make it safe. On the other hand, if there isn’t any money in it … Ah, never mind.

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More by Christopher Smart

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