In the wake of a scandal on the use of a county vehicle, Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman announced on June 3 the creation of a five-member "citizens panel" to review and recommend policy and procedure changes for Salt Lake County, according to the Salt Lake Tribune
Misuse of county vehicles and gas cards, revealed by The Salt Lake Tribune
early in May, prompted two top officials to resign and the district attorney to launch a criminal investigation.
Harry L. Jeffs, director of fleet administration for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) was one of the five members appointed to the panel. He manages more than 12,000 vehicles worldwide as well as the church's food services. He previously directed the church's mail operations and worked as a fleet manager.
Panel members say they will report their findings in six weeks, and they promise that they will not be censored by county officials.
Two other of the five panel members are:
Glen D. Watkins, chairman of the board of directors at Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough. He is licensed to practice in Utah, the District of Columbia and before the U.S. Supreme Court. He also is a trustee of the Utah Information Technology Association, and is on the advisory board of Westminster College's Technology and Business section.
Carol L. Hunter, managing director and a vice president of Pacificorp, which operates as Utah Power.
The volunteer panel members say their mission will be narrowed when they meet, but that improper vehicle use by some top county employees would be part of their inquiry, according to the Salt Lake Tribune article. The panel is charged with looking at the automobile policies, and also policies for travel reimbursement, gifts and cellular telephones.
Mayor Workman says she will order employees to cooperate, and that the county will produce any requested documents.
The mayor, meanwhile, said that while the "buck stops" with her, she owed no apology to the public for the controversy. "I haven't done anything wrong," she said. Workman said she had not reprimanded her legal counsel, Greg Curtis, who is also the House majority leader, but she may look into doing so. Curtis admitted that he used his county vehicle for at least one personal trip to southern Utah with his family. He also has apologized for what he termed an "oversight" in which he was paid $767 in mileage reimbursement by the state while driving the county-owned-and-fueled SUV for legislative duties. He has since paid the money back.
Sixty county officials, including all nine County Council members, get a monthly vehicle allowance ranging from $550 to $650.
(See Automotive Fleet eNews and Government Fleet eNews on www.fleet-central.com for background on the Salt Lake County vehicle use controversy.)