The March 22 Salt Lake Tribune editorial intoned, "UTA going forward, agency must still win voters' trust." Sure, the voters can decide if they want another tax hike, but how does that help solve UTA's systemic problems? The transit agency just voted to cut executive bonuses by 80 percent and some executive salaries by 20 percent. That "some" means newly hired executives coming in at 20 percent below the now opulently paid execs. According to an August 2014 legislative audit, UTA General Manager Mike Allegra got more than $400,000 in 2013 with a $30,000 bonus. Say that bonus is now down to $7,500. Does that make you cry? Although UTA didn't get its tax hike this year, it got the support of the city and county, which could have benefited from some of the money. But at least UTA has given us something to think about. Get rid of all the old execs and at least you'd come in 20 percent below budget.
The Sales-Tax Carrot
Speaking of taxes, the burning question in Salt Lake City isn't whether residents will get another "fee" tacked on to their bills, but whether there was a back-room deal with Mayor Ralph Becker and the Legislature. House Bill 454 is now in the governor's hands. It's a prison development bill that adds a sales-tax option to cities that decide to host a prison. Way down in the 2,104-line bill is the financial enticement. Becker's spokesman, Jill Love, insists there was no such deal, although Becker's opponent in the coming election, Jackie Biskupski, finds the whole thing just a little too convenient. Well, yes, it's a mayoral election year, but the question is legitimate. Taxes are never popular, and this law would give good cover.
In the wake of the Hillary Clinton's—what do they call it? "Emailghazi"—we are now finding out more than we'd ever want to know about politicians' e-mail habits. For instance, a New York Times story lets us know that Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, not only has an iPhone6, but he barely uses it. His e-mail habits, he said, "are not very much," and usually just, "Thanks" or "Great." Many are saying they prefer face-to-face contact—like that ever happens anywhere anymore. Phoning a politician is even less than satisfying, unless you enjoy the runaround from staff. But the best revelation came on Jimmy Kimmel Live! when President Barack Obama said he's not allowed to use anything but a Blackberry—because it can't easily be hacked.