Over the last few years, the Utah Transit Authority has not exactly done a great job of bolstering trust in the organization – and though there are many, shall we call them “areas of improvement,” Senator Karen Mayne (Democrat – West Valley City) has decided to focus on improving the quazi-governmental/private organization by shining additional light on UTA through a more open records request process.
[pullquote]In many ways the agency has brought Mayne’s bill on themselves, as it appears UTA’s administration is no longer worthy of the public’s trust.[/pullquote]SB 103 – Public Transit District Amendments would alter the appeals process the media or public might request in regards to UTA (or any other transit district, in theory) when a records request is initially denied. Mayne’s bill states that “A public transit district’s denial, in whole or in part, of a record request is not subject to an appeal to a chief administrative officer…but may be appealed directly to the records committee…”
In short, this means that if UTA denies a records request, a person could appeal the decision directly to the State Records Committee rather than going through the current process of having the head of UTA decide if the request is valid. The reasons for this are obvious: by removing UTA officials from the secondary denial process, Mayne is making an attempt to remove all potential conflicts of interest, ensuring that documents that might be in the public’s interest are actually made available.
Mayne adds further pressure upon UTA by adding into code the idea that “For an appeal from a public transit district’s access denial…the records committee may not uphold the access denial unless there is statutory language, clearly applicable to the contested record, that requires nondisclosure of record.”
But the legislation does not stop there. A recent attempt by TRAX supervisors was thwarted in September of last year due in part because of attempts by UTA to engage in union-busting. When questioned about these practices, UTA initially told The Salt Lake Tribune that UTA spent nearly $38,000 trying to stop the effort by contracting with the Labor Relations Institute (LRI). Two months later, UTA documents indicated that publicly funded origination, in fact, spent nearly $47,000 on LRI’s services. But, just one month later, it was discovered that UTA actually (?) spent $74,000 to contract with LRI – nearly twice as much as they initially told the Tribune.
There is a saying in politics – “it’s not the truth that gets you, it’s the cover-up.” UTA over the past 5-10 years seems eager to not only make…questionable…decisions with the public’s money, they are also eager to hide the fact that they are making bad decisions. In many ways the agency has brought Mayne’s bill on themselves, as it appears UTA’s administration is no longer worthy of the public’s trust.
To contact Senator Mayne, click here or call 801-232-6648.
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