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UTA: Way Off Track

Also: Higher fares, thinner kids

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Way Off Track
Utahns are frequently reminded how lucky we are to have elected civic-minded officials, and asked not to “impugn” their integrity. So it’s curious that we’re told that it was OK for a former UTA board member to rake in “less than $24 million” from what appears to be insider knowledge. It’s OK because, well, Terry Diehl disclosed his financial conflict before acting on it. Now comes a legislative committee that heard a potential bomb drop when Doug Clark, former managing director of business growth for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, testified that he was told to back off looking at the potential Frontrunner site involving Diehl and was soon after fired. Legislators paid more attention to Rep. Greg Hughes, who told them how UTA has done everything by the book. So it wasn’t surprising that they ignored Rep. Janice Fisher’s call for a federal investigation.

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Get On the Bus
Speaking of UTA, it’s not looking like the agency is really interested in its riders—or at least its riders’ pocketbooks. While it’s considering reasonable distance-based fares, UTA has also revised its agreements with higher-ed institutions, raising fares as much as 1,000 percent for some students. Ouch! The fare increases are not only worrying students, but sending some back to their cars. And now that TRAX goes out to Daybreak, UTA has seen fit to cut an express bus route and replace it with a shuttle to TRAX. Similar routes were cut back when UTA opened its University line. If you’re looking for quick transit, don’t stop here.

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Positive Peer Pressure
While the world is bitching about the cost of obesity and how kids are getting fat, Utah has been slow to embrace the healthy-lunch trend that’s spreading across the nation. New York Chef Bill Telepan has become a health celebrity of sorts by starting Wellness in Schools, installing salad bars and teaching lunchrooms to cook healthy foods. Now, Cache County is just finishing a pilot program called Food Dudes that actually increased the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten by more than 40 percent. The program helps kids 6 to 11 sample fruits and veggies and talk them up among their friends. Utah State University will now take on a yearlong study in six elementary schools. If peer pressure works elsewhere, why not in the kitchen? 

Twitter: @KathyBiele

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