Michael Salman, in Fight With Phoenix Over Backyard Church Services, Running for City Council

  Michael Salman can't seem to beat City Hall, and now hopes to be elected to it.


The Phoenix pastor has been fighting the city of Phoenix for three years over the right to hold worship services under a backyard structure he and his parishioners built. His home has been raided twice by authorities, including once this past March, and he faces 60 days in the klink for violating city codes relating to the structure.

Last month, he filed a federal complaint against the city.

The plucky pastor and ex-gangbanger (he once served time for a drive-by shooting) isn't content just to play defense. As we reported last month, he filed a federal complaint and requested a temporary restraining order against the city. A judge shot down the idea of a restraining order, but he's moving ahead with the lawsuit.

Meantime, he's running for the city's District 5 council seat

Salman filed paperwork for his candidacy on March 30, about a week after the latest raid on his home by code-compliance officers and fire inspectors. He was slapped with seven additional violations during the raid; the jail sentence for his previous violations is on appeal.

It's difficult to tell whether the pastor is serious about his candidacy. His candidate blog, in which he's pictured in a white, Hanes-like T-shirt and needing a shave, hasn't been updated since April 2. His motto is a bit weird: "I put my money where your mouth is!"

We're also wondering why he spelled his name incorrectly on the filing paperwork: He called himself "Micheal Salman," though in other writings (like his court complaint) he  spells his first name with the more traditional, "Michael."

Salman confirmed in an e-mail that he's really running.

"I'm going to expose the rats that are spending our money," he says.

Nothing fires up a candidate like a looming jail sentence.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.

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