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Money Magazine Names a Utah "Hero"

PHOTO: A retired aerospace engineer who lives in Sandy, Art Sutherland, is being recognized by Money magazine for his work on predatory lending issues in Utah. Photo courtesy AARP Utah.
PHOTO: A retired aerospace engineer who lives in Sandy, Art Sutherland, is being recognized by Money magazine for his work on predatory lending issues in Utah. Photo courtesy AARP Utah.
July 14, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – Money magazine is naming a Utah man one of its 50 Heroes in 50 States for his work on predatory lending issues.

Art Sutherland, a retired aerospace engineer who lives in Sandy, has worked with city council members and state lawmakers for several years to enact laws and policies that limit payday lenders.

Sutherland pursues his mission as a volunteer with the Coalition of Religious Communities. He says for the customer, borrowing from a payday lender means huge interest rates.

"Well, the interest rates on an APR basis typical in the State of Utah is about 400 percent,” he points out. “And the charges run, I guess that would be about $15 per $100 borrowed."

Sutherland says nearly every municipality in the Salt Lake City area now limits the number of payday lenders that can set up shop.

He adds the Utah State Legislature passed a recent law that allows consumers to repay loans from payday lenders interest-free, under certain circumstances.

Sutherland says payday lenders tend to target those living at the bottom of the economic ladder who often enter a cycle of borrowing money they cannot repay.

"They can go right down the street and borrow from another lender, and the first lender won't know about it because there's no record kept, no central database, about how many people or how many loans they have out simultaneously," he explains.

Sutherland says he is flattered by the recognition from Money magazine, but stresses that changes in how Utah treats predatory lenders resulted from the work of many people.

In addition to his work with the Coalition of Religious Communities, Sutherland also volunteers for AARP Utah.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT