Provo mayoral candidate Sherrie Hall Everett received a $10,000 campaign contribution July 17 from Sunroc, a construction-materials supply company, which is a rather large donation for a municipal race, but not improper.
Save for one thing (so follow this dot-to-dot exercise):
Everett is vice chairwoman of the Utah Transit Authority board. The agency has approved a nearly $200 million construction project to provide bus rapid transit service to the Provo-Orem area.
One of the two main contractors is W.W. Clyde & Co., which stands to make tens of millions of dollars on the project. And Sunroc, the generous contributor to Everett's campaign, is a wholly owned subsidiary of W.W. Clyde.
UTA board member Brent Taylor, who is North Ogden's mayor, was so concerned about the contribution, he requested an investigation by UTA officials.
"Accepting donations from a company currently doing tens of millions of dollars of UTA work — and who will undoubtedly bid for future UTA work — is entirely inappropriate for any board member, especially the vice chair," Taylor wrote in a letter to UTA General Counsel Jayme Blakesley and internal auditor Raina DeVillier.
He cited a UTA board policy that bars gifts from current contractors, stating that a board member shall not receive gifts or other items of value if the board member "simply appears to have influence" over any action that could affect the donor.
"To my knowledge," Everett wrote in an email to me, "this contractor [Sunroc] has no current or pending business with the city of Provo or UTA."
Everett said she notified UTA's general counsel about the donation and made sure it was specifically listed on her campaign financial disclosure form.
"It's important to note that I do not have any say in any bid awards. Board members are protected from that administrative process. I do not have any influence in contract awards and vendor selection," she said. "But, to be overly cautious, I asked to be informed of any future board decision where Sunroc, its parent company or other subsidiaries are involved. I will recuse myself from any future voting that the board may do that would affect this contractor in anyway."
Blocked out from the blackout • The much-hyped total eclipse of the sun — a once-in-a-lifetime event for many — will be visible in much of North America on the morning of Aug. 21.
It will provide a great educational experience for students and an opportunity for discussions in their classrooms. But students in three school districts along the Wasatch Front will have to miss it — unless they decide to skip school.
Salt Lake, Granite and Murray districts will open their school year on that day — despite protests from some parents who want to turn viewing of the rare event into a family field trip.
Salt Lake City will get about a 90 percent view of the eclipse. To see a total eclipse, Utahns would have to travel to, say, Idaho Falls, or Wyoming, which many parents plan to do.
Salt Lake City School District spokeswoman Yandary Zavala and Granite District spokesman Ben Horsley say the school calendar was set at least two years ago by an appointed committee representing all stakeholders, including religious leaders, to avoid conflicts with holy holidays. Once the proposed dates were set, all those on the districts mailing list were notified and could provide their input.
Horsley said Granite is buying 65,000 solar glasses to provide to students if their teachers want to take them outside for the event.
Amy Wadsworth, director of the Salt Lake Arts Academy charter school, moved her school's opening day to Aug. 23, noting that the move was "100 percent" because of the eclipse.
She said the school's schedule normally coincides with Salt Lake City School District's, but she wanted her students to be able to travel to an area where the total eclipse could be viewed, so she delayed the opener.
Jordan, Canyons and Davis school districts start Aug. 23.