Can We Trust Utah’s Elected Local Officials?

/, Utah Government/Can We Trust Utah’s Elected Local Officials?

Can We Trust Utah’s Elected Local Officials?

Recently I was asked bluntly why I don’t trust local government officials.  My quote was after 11 years in public safety seeing elected officials up close I have become jaded.

I don’t know… but here are some interesting stories. Out of the goodness of my heart, I won’t include the Lehi City Council Skateboard flap.

Report on BLM agent at Burning Man finds ethics violations (Granted this isn’t a local elected official but its crap none the less.)

A BLM spokesman said Tuesday the misconduct report on an unidentified supervisory agent is under review. The Department of Interior’s Office of Inspector General paper will be forwarded to supervisors for possible discipline.

Investigators found the supervisory agent broke federal ethics rules when he bought three tickets and special passes to Burning Man in 2015 after it was sold out, though he paid with his own money, and let his girlfriend stay in agency housing.

Former UTOPIA employee charged with using public money to buy $51K in iTunes cards

The former human resources manager of an ultra high-speed fiber-optic network in Utah has been charged with misusing public money, including the purchase of $51,000 in iTunes cards, according to charging documents.

Gloria Cortes, 52, of Salt Lake City, was charged Wednesday in 3rd District Court with communications fraud and misuse of public money, both second-degree felonies.

Cortes was the former human resources manager and controller for the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency. UTOPIA consists of a group of Utah cities that joined together to form a fiber-optic network and provide advanced communications infrastructure to their residents. The company is funded by public money through taxes.

In December, UTOPIA’s chief financial officer discovered that Cortes had made more than $90,000 in unauthorized payments to herself over the past several years, according to charging documents. Her duties while employed included reconciling the credit card payments for the company with receipts

Utah League of Cities and Towns director resigns amid audit questioning charges

Ken Bullock, longtime director of the League of Cities and Towns, resigned Wednesday, the day before an audit says he improperly charged about $57,000 to the taxpayer-funded group’s credit card for personal purposes and racked up about $130,000 in questionable charges due to lack of receipts.

Mayor of Hurricane booked in poaching case

The mayor of Hurricane is under investigation for a wildlife crime related to another person’s alleged poaching of a deer on his property in Kane County, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has confirmed.

John Wayne Bramall, 59, was voluntarily booked into the Kane County Jail on Oct. 27, said DWR Capt. Mitch Lane. He was released the same day. Jail records indicate he is being investigated for two counts of aiding or assisting in a wildlife violation.

Two deer, including one that qualifies as a trophy deer, were illegally killed and taken from property in Kane County that Bramall owns on Oct. 22, Lane said. The captain identified the men believed to be responsible for that incident as Gordon Wesley Marble, 58, and John Wesley Marble, 29, both from West Point.

Auditor chides Utah Dairy Commission over misused credit cards, accountability

A new state audit found that the Utah Dairy Commission misused credit cards, including a $180 manicure for its CEO, and doesn’t get that it runs on public money.

In a written response, the dairy commission questioned the power of the state auditor’s office to look at its books, and said the financial review contained “multitudinous” errors and reflects a general misunderstanding of what the agency is and does.

Kaysville councilman owes city nearly $6K, auditor says after charging the city for using his own personal fire truck in a parade.

City Councilman Dave Adams should pay back Kaysville for spending nearly $6,000 in city funds to use his personal firetruck in the city’s Fourth of July water parade, the Utah State Auditor concluded Tuesday, citing unapproved and possible political uses of taxpayer funds.

Despite the auditor’s recommendation, city officials aren’t sure exactly how much of the bill they’ll be asking Adams to pay.

Money To Burn – Unified Fire Authority has a bonus problem.

Since 2011, all four of these individuals raked in more than $100,000 apiece in incentives. And according to documents obtained from UFA through an open-records request, all four of these officials used identical reasons to justify the additional pay, which each of them has been receiving in varying amounts since 2007.

Smoke Signals -Unified Fire Authority also has a gas card problem.

A second records request seeking all of the gas expenditures of UFA chiefs, deputy chiefs and battalion chiefs, showed that over the past five years, Scott has amassed $28,800 in gas expenditures on his UFA fuel card. Scott, along with Jensen and other top ranking UFA employees, are given vehicles that they are allowed to take home.

While all of the chiefs whose gas expenditures were provided tallied tens of thousands of miles on their company SUVs, no one spent more than Scott, whose monthly gas expenses often crested $500, and every so often, topped $700. By comparison, Jensen’s five-year gas total was $16,600.

In September, 2012, several UFA assistant and battalion chiefs racked up large gas bills. One pumped $544, while another pumped $450 and Jensen burned through $401. At $796, Scott’s gas bill soundly soared above all others. And after tacking on a pair of car washes and three “miscellaneous” purchases, each totaling $8, Scott’s total vehicle bill for a single month crested $850.

The $12,200 disparity between the two chiefs, Jensen says, could be partly explained by Scott’s children’s acceptance into a private charter school in American Fork. Jensen says Scott drives the children from his Herriman home to school in American Fork, then to work and meetings at the UFA’s 28 fire stations scattered across the Salt Lake Valley.

“That could account for some of it,” Jensen says of Scott shuttling his children to school.

State Auditor to scrutinize Unified Fire Authority after top officers got bonuses

Unified fire chief announces ‘mutual separation’ with agency amid audits Don’t panic kids Jensen has enough years to retire and live.

Unified Fire chief leaves amid investigation of bonuses

Chief Michael Jensen is leaving Unified Fire Authority,  an agency under investigation over bonuses it approved for him and three others.

During a two-hour closed-door meeting, Jensen said, he and the agency’s board had a “long, good discussion” and agreed on a “mutual separation” in the best interest of Unified Fire Authority (UFA).

“I love the UFA,” said Jensen, a 16th-year Salt Lake County Council member who is running for re-election unopposed. “I helped build it, and I’m proud of what we’ve done.”

Scathing audit says ex-chiefs overbilled, hid expenses

Former Unified Fire Authority Chief Michael Jensen — who was re-elected last year as a Salt Lake County councilman — and his former deputy could be facing felony charges in the wake of a scathing audit released Wednesday.

Yet Dougall is recommending Unified officials attempt to recover about $370,000 — which the audit states Jensen improperly approved as “incentive awards” to himself, Scott and two other former fire administrators over the past four years without full Unified Fire Authority board approval — as well as tens of thousands of more dollars in “excessive” and “questionable” travel expenditures spent by Jensen and Scott, the audit states.

Jensen and Scott put their personal interests over organization interests, the audit states, but their actions were not stopped because board members placed too much trust in the former chief and “failed to provide proper oversight.”

Between 2011 and mid-2016, Scott spent more than $23,000, with nearly $15,000 spent at Apple using his Unified purchase card, the audit said. During that same time period, Jensen spent $1,600 on technology purchases.

Dougall said Jensen and Scott each had two, 27-inch iMacs purchased with Unified dollars, which were kept at both their homes and in their offices. Jensen and Scott each also had a Macbook Pro, an iPad Pro, an iPad 2 and an Apple Watch, according to the audit. Scott also had a GoPro camera, two Nikon DSLR cameras with seven lenses and a Canon XA20 video camera.

“(Jensen and Scott) had more technology equipment (and more expensive technology equipment) than necessary for their jobs,” the audit states.

Drunk City Councilman Claims He Is “Protected”  Crash into a car drunk and you are protected if you get picked up by your own police department.

Witnesses claim that Haaga had been drinking at the local pub and was obviously intoxicated. Employees of the pub and customers attempted to intervene when Haaga attempted to leave the bar, offering him an Uber or a ride personally. Haaga was reluctant to accept, but was finally convinced and was given a ride home by another patron.

After Haaga was safely driven home, witnesses claim that they saw Haaga return to the parking lot for his 2011 Hyundai Elantra. Employees and patrons then witnessed Mr. Haaga reverse out of his parking spot and hit a parked car.

According to the police report witnesses said that Haaga then exited the car and stumbled around and appeared “obviously intoxicated”. After Haaga got back in the car, two bystanders took his keys out of the ignition, in an attempt to prevent him from leaving.

Using a second set of keys, Haaga started the car and left the parking lot before police could arrive.

Audit: S.L. County recorder has ‘very little oversight or involvement’ in his office

A summary of an audit into Ott’s office released Tuesday found that Ott does “not participate directly in the day-to-day management activities of the office.” Yet he still earns $180,000.

Alleged romance in recorder’s office prompts nepotism law review

Two days after Gary Ott was last re-elected as Salt Lake County recorder, Karmen Sanone was hired to work for him as one of his top administrators.

Sanone had just finished helping him manage his campaign and appeared in his stead multiple times during campaign events. Years earlier, she helped Ott manage his 2010 campaign.

Yet Ott’s relationship with Sanone appears to be more than just political or professional. Sanone has been identified as Ott’s fiancée, girlfriend or wife in court documents, police reports, social media posts and personal conversations.

Employee and daughter embezzled $1 million in public money over a decade  This one hits extremely close to home as I know the persons involved as well as those lost in the fall out.

UCA board grapples with funding freeze in wake of fraud, audit  This becomes a public safety issue when trust is lost.

By |2017-02-01T09:36:01+00:00August 3rd, 2016|Categories: My Rants, Utah Government|Tags: , |0 Comments

Leave A Comment