Another Salt Lake City figure is asked to resign

Deseret News – Under orders from Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Salt Lake City’s longtime representative on the Utah Transit Authority’s board of trustees has resigned.

Keith Bartholomew — an associate professor of city and metropolitan planning at the University of Utah who served 13 years on the UTA board as an appointee under the tenures of former Mayors Rocky Anderson and Ralph Becker — submitted his resignation during the board’s meeting Wednesday.

Another week, another person being asked (or told if you work at the Huntsman Cancer Institute) to leave their position. Business as usual in the valley lately.

This is not nearly on the scope of the HCI CEO Mary Beckerle’s firing, but is still worth pointing out given UTA’s recent criminal probe into its leaders and possible misuse of taxpayer funds.

Bartholomew served on the board of trustees representing SLC for the last 13 years, according to the report, but was asked to resign because of concerns over the length of his term and how he was last appointed in 2015. According to the mayor’s spokesman Matthew Rojas, they couldn’t find any documentation he went through the proper channels with the city council two years ago.

Bartholomew said he did have signed consent from the previous mayor Ralph Becker. That apparently wasn’t enough for Biskupski and maybe they felt it was time for a change. Bartholomew also told the Deseret News he gathered the mayor wasn’t fond of his performance on the board. As a result, Bartholomew, also an associate professor at the U, is now gone from the board. New administration, new people I suppose.

But UTA. Dayum, they just can’t get out of the mud. One day it’s federal prosecutors announcing the latest details in the criminal probe into its previous leaders, the next people are stepping down from its board of trustees. I have to say in 26 on this earth I’ve never seen something quite like when the feds announced they wouldn’t prosecute UTA itself, but its previous leaders (Terry Diehl and co.) for potential wrongdoing.

UTA is stuck in a pickle where it always asks itself is it a public or private entity. Well, it’s both as we all know, but that has led to accusations of misuse of funds and criticism over bonuses and salaries to UTA bosses. Some of these people were making upwards of $400,000. I would like that job. But really, if Utah wants to truly hold UTA accountable, it probably needs to consider making it a purely public organization.

You hate to see anyone have to resign, but Bartholomew did acknowledge he “shares those concerns” about an erosion of public trust regarding his appointment. Still, seems a bit of a jump to cite as a reason for resignation after 13 years. We’ll watch as UTA continues to navigate its PR minefield in just about anything.

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