SALT LAKE CITY — A new Utah Transit Authority trustee with a reform agenda called Monday for the board's leadership to step down after what he called a "brazen," "condescending" and "unhinged" "personal attack" on Facebook.
"I believe we need new leadership at UTA that can get us past this drama and to focus on what really matters: earning back public trust," North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor wrote in an email to fellow trustees.
Taylor said in the email both the chairman of the board of trustees, Robert McKinley, and the vice chairwoman, Sherrie Hall Everett, need to resign their leadership roles because of a Facebook post by Everett last Friday that since has been deleted.
He said UTA "needs a fresh start, and I hope they will at least consider my request. I am not here to fight you all, but I have been forced into that from the get-go. How different this could have all been with a different approach to leadership."
Everett apologized to Taylor and the other UTA trustees in an email she released Monday evening, saying her "frustration allowed me to become more personal than appropriate" and that she retracted the post.
"While I stand by many aspects of my statement, upon rereading, there were statements contained within that were too personal — and written out of frustration — which is not characteristically my style," she said in the email.
Everett's email did not address Taylor's call for her to resign as vice chairwoman of the UTA board, but said she hopes the board "can be honest and transparent as we work together. That is certainly my intent."
McKinley did not return a call for comment. UTA spokesman Remi Barron said "it’s not appropriate for staff to comment on board issues.”
According to a screenshot of the post provided by Taylor, Everett said Taylor "is touting himself as the ONLY reformer at UTA and now a VICTIM." She said he is "pushing a huge deception of what is actually going on at the agency."
The post came after a lengthy UTA board meeting last Wednesday that included action on a new nepotism policy that Taylor said "makes me feel like I am somehow illegitimate."
UTA initially tried to keep Taylor from joining the board earlier this year to represent the Weber Area Council of Governments because his father is a FrontRunner driver set to retire soon.
Taylor recused himself from the split vote over the policy, which now allows for relatives of future trustees to be fired from a UTA job instead of simply not being moved within the agency.
Everett said in the Facebook post that "to argue that nepotism is OK when board members decide matters of collective bargaining, or employment policy, service expansion, etc. is NOT the clear, bright line we are looking for."
The post goes on to ask Taylor "what's the game? What are you trying to do? And why are you broadbrushing the integrity of other board members in the process. Sorry, I'm calling it. The emperor has no clothes here."
Taylor and Everett have sparred online before over another email he sent to trustees, urging them to fight the "circle the wagons mentality" at UTA and speak out about the impact of the ongoing federal investigation into transit projects.
Last month, federal prosecutors announced a non-prosecution agreement had been reached with UTA in exchange for the agency agreeing to cooperate with the investigation and accept up to three years of federal monitoring.
Everett responded then by accusing Taylor of "political grandstanding" in an email.
The North Ogden mayor said he was taking his concern about the Facebook post to the entire board because Everett's "accusations were made publicly. Granted, they were deleted."
Everett's Facebook page, which has multiple references to her running for mayor of Provo, still includes her previous response to Taylor, as well as other comments about him.
"I just feel this is another example of how the UTA leadership is absolutely hostile to an outside perspective and voices," Taylor said, warning about the impact of "this kind of rant from the vice chair from one of the largest public agencies in the state."4 comments on this story
Under the current UTA leadership, "if anyone gets outside the box, they're crushed. They're ground up. That's not healthy," he said, adding that it has a chilling effect on trustees raising their concerns.
But not on him, Taylor said. He said he went after a spot on the board "very clearly on a reform platform (of) transparency, openness, responsible use of tax dollars, reforming the salaries, reforming the bonuses."
Citing his military experience, Taylor said he's not backing down.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said. "I fought the Taliban. I'm not going to be intimidated here."