It's no secret that Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, who likes to call himself Cowboy Mike, dislikes environmental groups with a passion and lambasts federal land protection policies as fascist usurpations upon the liberties of mankind.
So he didn't take it well when former Bureau of Land Management Director and Salt Lake City lawyer Pat Shea, also known to be intolerant toward philosophical foes, questioned Noel's intelligence while the legislator was giving his anti-fed dissertation to the Governor's Balanced Resources Committee on Tuesday.
Noel was claiming the federal government was violating the Federal Land Management Policy Act by not facilitating land exchanges with local jurisdictions when Shea interrupted by asking Lt. Gov. Greg Bell if special arrangements could be made to bring a University of Utah law professor to the meeting to straighten out Noel's "imbecilic interpretation of the law."
Noel preferred a more primitive approach.
After the two red-faced combatants loudly exchanged insults, Noel suggested he and Shea "step outside and settle this like men."
While the two were screaming at each other, committee Chairman Ted Wilson, who did not have a gavel, tried to restore order by tapping his pencil on the table. Committee member Lynn Stevens, a San Juan County commissioner, reacted in disgust to the screaming match with a frustrated, "Ah, shut up."
The committee was formed to bring differing viewpoints on land and energy issues together in a civil way. And Bell, who was sitting in on the meeting as a representative of Gov. Gary Herbert, is co-chair man of the Civility Group Advisory Board.
Later, trying to bring some humor to the situation, Shea said he was considering challenging Noel to a mud wrestling contest, charging admission and donating the proceeds to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA).
Off into the sunset • Commissioner of Higher Education William A. Sederburg has been privately telling colleagues he has decided to resign from his post sometime next year, perhaps by the summer.
It makes me wonder how much he will miss the friendly atmosphere toward higher education provided by our esteemed Utah Legislature.
The speculation is that when Sederburg is done, he will return to the Midwest. He was born in Nebraska, raised in Minnesota and received advanced degrees from Michigan State University. He was a Michigan state senator from 1978-91. He became president of Utah Valley State College in 2003 and guided its transformation to a university. He was named higher education commissioner in 2008, but tried to leave that job once before. He was announced last January as a finalist for chancellor of higher education in Minnesota, but didn't get the job.
Utah County speak • A new sign painted on the blacktop in the parking lot of the state government regional offices in Provo indicates the space is for a special type of transportation.
The sign says: "Mortorcycle Parking."
Besides indicating the space is reserved for a strange machine called a "mortorcycle," the sign is painted in front of a red zone.