UTA shuns media coverage

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The Utah Transit Authority holds regular committee meetings ranging from critical issues, financial issues and current affairs. These meetings help them decide how to improve the structure of UTA, and help reduce their ongoing public scrutiny, by allowing the community to be involved.

Earlier last week, UTA announced that subgroups within the committee would no longer be making decisions. This means they are closing the doors to the meetings, allowing only the full board to make and execute decisions. At the end of last week, UTA Board Chairman H. David Burton announced that the real reason for closing the doors to the board meeting was because of the Salt Lake Tribune’s coverage of the meetings, which made them look ineffective.

As a journalist, this bugs me, terribly. It’s a violation of First Amendment rights. People, the public, have a right to know what’s going on with our tax dollars, how (in) effectively they are being used with our transportation services, and what future plans are scheduled. If UTA is worried about public scrutiny and how poorly they are perceived by the public, then they should look into improving their issues and being a stronger organization.

I’ve been a supporter of UTA, and have utilized its services since Trax opened up, for that first ride, 12 or so years ago. I loved taking the train. It was fast, accessible, cost-efficient and reliable. In recent years, the services are always late, not as accessible and the cost is ridiculous, even with more trains being added. To me, it is unfortunate that UTA isn’t as successful, and is having issues—but shunning the public, and the press, is not the answer.

I hope UTA finds that this resolution was not a successful measure and reverts back to keeping meetings open to the public and press. Accountability is a better answer than blaming press coverage.