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After long controversy, UTA adopts new committee structure

Published February 23, 2017 10:35 pm

Transit • After committees were closed to public last year, agency vows they will be open, transparent.
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After the Utah Transit Authority Board canceled most of its committee meetings for nearly a year — and after controversy because they attempted to close the meetings to the public — the board on Wednesday adopted a long-awaited new committee structure and bylaws.

"Our committees will be open, transparent. Anyone is welcome to attend," said UTA Board Co-Vice Chairwoman Sherrie Hall Everett.

She said committees will not have regularly scheduled meeting times every month. Instead, they will be scheduled as work and issues demand. But she said agendas will be posted in advance on UTA and state transparency websites.

Last spring, then-UTA Board Chairman H. David Burton said the board would close all its committee meetings to encourage more open discussion, and because UTA did not like Tribune coverage of the meetings.

UTA contended that was legal because no votes would be taken. Critics, including First Amendment attorney Jeff Hunt, disagreed. And Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake County Councilman Richard Snelgrove pressured the board to reverse plans, saying such meeting are where policy is usually discussed in depth.

Burton eventually did reverse course, and said all committee meetings would be public. But since then, the agency generally held few committee meetings as it discussed how they should be restructured.

The board on Wednesday adopted new bylaws that allow it to change the number and type of committees by adopting changes in open board meetings.

It also adopted policies to create its newest wave of committees.

They included committees for finance and operations; stakeholder/government relations; transit-oriented communities; service and customer relations; planning and long-term vision; audit review; and an executive committee.

Hall Everett said the committees are aligned better to reflect UTA's strategic directions. Board members may also serve on many committees, instead of just one or two as in the past, to help them understand more issues in more detail.




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