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Paul Rolly: UTA bonuses don't necessarily buy efficiency

Published May 1, 2014 9:49 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Wayne Belka, a frequent TRAX and FrontRunner passenger, chuckled after reading about UTA managers getting twice the bonuses they received the year before and the op-ed piece by two UTA officials insisting the money is needed to ensure efficiency.

Belka says inefficiency abounds — despite the bonuses.

For example, he says, trains are supposed to make visual and auditory announcements as they approach each station to accommodate deaf and blind riders.

Until a few months ago, says Belka, the trains' electronic reader boards, which should scroll the information for the deaf, were inoperative. As for the audible announcements, operators have been relaying the information over the speaker system. These announcements, however, sometimes were inaudible, lacking or mumbled.

UTA recently added to FrontRunner the more comprehensible recorded announcement systems found on TRAX trains. But Belka says they don't always work.

And, he says, the trains are frequently late because of the decision to run a single line system with passing spurs instead of dual tracks. One late train traveling either north or south affects the reverse traveling trains and makes them all late.

But the bonuses came on time.

Speak no evil • The Utah Newspaper Project, through its website, utahnewspaperproject.org, is an advocacy organization concerned that changes in the joint-operating agreement between The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News threatens The Tribune's future.

The group has asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the deal, which gives the News an enormous advantage in the profit split. The organization plans to run an ad to bring more awareness to its efforts. That ad will appear in The Tribune on Saturday. The Deseret News refused to run it.

The plot thickens • A longtime Tribune subscriber has been calling me lately expressing his concern about an old friend he believes is terminally ill but not taking steps to prolong his life.

His friend is The Tribune. According to this loyal reader, he saw evidence recently that there is a plot to hasten his friend's demise. The infiltration, he says, has begun.

When he got his Tribune last Friday, there was the familiar A section, B section, the C (Sports) section and, then, the betrayal: Instead of the normal Friday Mix, which was section D, he had another C section. It was the Weekend section of the Deseret News, featuring a front-page column with the headline: "Mr. Magoo shorts are now on DVD."

Would the real Mike Lee stand up • Mike Lee showed up at the Utah Democratic Convention last Saturday and was warmly received.

No, he wasn't that Mike Lee.

Michael D. Lee, a Unified Police Department officer, is the Democratic candidate for House District 30, currently held by the retiring Democratic Rep. Janice Fisher. He is taller than Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has less hair and has never dumped his mortgage by selling his house short.

He won the Democratic nod and will face Republican Fred Cox, a former representative who lost his bid for re-election two years ago.

Want to be a cop? • The Salt Lake City Police Department is conducting a Citizens Academy next month, consisting of free workshops for 25 folks interested in what cops do.

To apply, log onto http://slcpd.com/c0ntent/uploads/citizen-academy-application.pdf, download the application and email it to citizensacademy@slcgov.com, fax it to 801-799-3419, or drop it off to the service desk at the Public Safety Building, 475 S. 300 East.

The workshops will be June 11, 6-9 p.m., June 12, 6-9 p.m. and June 13, 5-10 p.m and will cover policies and procedures, use of force, a K9 demonstration, speed enforcement, and firearms shooting with SWAT.

The Utah Highway Patrol has offered a similar Citizens Academy. Thanks to Tribune columnist Robert Kirby, I participated in its inaugural course several years ago and learned that I would make a bad cop.

In fact, Kirby still ribs me about my target shooting and how officers had to assess the damage to Nevada after I missed not just the target, but the entire mountain behind it.

prolly@sltrib.com