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Utah's Right to Know
Donald Meyers
Donald W. Meyers writes about open-government issues for The Salt Lake Tribune. He is also the site manager of utahsright.com, the Tribune's online database of public records. He is also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists' National Freedom of Information Committee and sits on the board of directors of the Utah Foundation for Open Government.

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UTA reluctantly released John Inglish’s pension records

It seems crime statistics weren’t the only public records that the Utah Transit Authority wasn’t willing to share.

KSL-TV recently obtained through mediation the details of UTA General John Inglish’s pension plan. Inglish, whose 2011 severance package totalled $364,406, will receive a lifetime $200,000 annual pension. And that is after Inglish spent his last year in office travelling around the world to represent UTA at conferences.

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Let’s put that in perspective. A former U.S. President only gets $191,300 a year in pension. A three-star general with 35 years of service — the same amount of time Inglish put in with the UTA — only gets $169,200 a year in retirement.

UTA officials defended Inglish’s pension, noting his service to the authority and his role in expanding the agency from a bus line to light- and commuter-rail service.

But UTA was reluctant to hand out the information. It denied KSL’s request under the Government Records Access and Management Act. KSL was poised to argue its case for the records before the State Records Committee, but UTA coughed up the information after a mediation session with Records Ombudsman Rosemary Cundiff.

The pension was based on the average of Inglish’s five highest years of pay times their years of service and multiplied by 2 percent. While that would have given him a $205,000 annual pension, the UTA capped it at $200,000.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s records request earlier this year revealed that Inglish’s last year on the job was spent mostly on the road, averaging 1.6 out-of-state trips per month on UTA business. In addition to visiting 17 U.S. cities, the records showed Inglish went to Belgium, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates, along with two trips to Spain.

The revelations come as the UTA mulled eliminating the free-fare zone in downtown Salt Lake City, citing a $100,000 annual loss and a supposedly rising crime rate on the line. It also cut bus service the day after Thanksgiving — one of the busiest shopping days in the years — as a cost-saving measure, angering holiday shoppers who weren’t slow to point out Inglish’s pension payment.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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