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Rolly: The latest audits of quasi-government agencies fit a growing trend

First Published      Last Updated Jan 23 2017 12:19 pm

What do the Utah Transit Authority, the Economic Development Corp. of Utah, the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative, the Utah Communications Authority, the Utah College of Applied Technology, the Utah Dairy Commission, the Utah Local Governments Trust, the Unified Fire Authority and the Utah League of Cities and Towns have in common?

They are all quasi-government institutions overseen by independent boards while receiving public money, and they all have been scandalized by scathing audits from either the state auditor or the legislative auditor.

Their sins have included embezzlement, misuse of public funds, inflated expense reports, nepotism and failure to pay taxes.

These agencies usually are formed as single-purpose entities to more efficiently provide services for multiple governments with similar goals. They usually have elected officials from different jurisdictions serving on their boards.

State Auditor John Dougall told me these boards frequently lack transparency and have insufficient oversight, which leads to employee temptations.

"A lot of times, the people on these boards don't even know they are governmental entities," Dougall said.

Off with their heads • During last week's state school board meeting, Angela Stallings, the associate schools superintendent, was giving an update on legislative issues when she warned that some legislators felt disrespected.

When addressing the board, she said, the legislators didn't like having to sit at the witness table — like the unwashed masses.

Being legislators (royalty), they felt they should be placed at the head of the room with the school board chairman.

Stallings suggested the legislators would be more likely to visit with the board if they were not treated like common folk.

See no evil • Last year, I wrote about the censors at the Deseret News who make sure their readers don't see inappropriate materials — in the comic strips.

In May, the Deseret News had a Mother Goose & Grimm strip in which Mother Goose bought a cheap electric car that turned out to be a bumper car. All the other subscribers had a different strip, which was designated by the syndicate for that day. That cartoon featured a corporate boardroom in which a man presented a graphic resembling a Fruity Pebbles cereal box. The box instead read "LGBT Pebbles."

Well, the censors are at it again.

On Sunday, the syndicated comic strip Big Nate ran in The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News. The Tribune version, like that of the other subscribers, featured the grandfather, tired of shopping with his wife, stopping to rest in front of the Victoria's Secret window display. The Deseret News' version, which was supposed to be slated for a different day, had a much more ambitious grandfather shoveling snow.

Interesting reference • The Deseret News had a story Thursday about a devotional at the Institute of Religion where Dallin Oaks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled the audience to accept the election results as part of the Democratic process as President-elect Donald Trump prepared for his inauguration Friday.

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