Rolly: When narcissist Noel puts self-interest before the public interest, even rural Utahns sometimes lose

Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune Paul Rolly.

I’ve written more than I wish I had to about the narcissism of Rep. Mike Noel. But somebody has to do it.

The Kanab Republican has sponsored a number of bills designed to give more control over public policy to rural Utah counties — including his own Kane County — and cramming their preferred policies down the throats of the state’s more populous urban centers.

Now he has a bill, HB367, that would increase the amount of money rural communities can spend from hotel and motel taxes on roads and other amenities by $2.5 million. It would allow them to steer half the transient room tax toward road maintenance and upgrades. Currently, they can use a third of those taxes for that purpose.

“We’re talking about taking care of tourists safely and adequately when they come to our counties,” Garfield County Commission Chairman Leland Pollock told a legislative committee last week.

Of course, these rural counties would have had more money to spend on roads had it not been for a bill Noel sponsored in 2009.

That measure diverted 30 percent of the state’s gas tax money dedicated to maintaining rural roads to help fund the never-ending lawsuits rural counties have filed against the Bureau of Land Management over protected lands in their areas.

So far, these counties have mostly lost those court battles. And now they need more money from a different tax source to make up for that lost road revenue.

Quieting the masses • Noel’s disdain for what the public wants, when it interferes with his own desires, is hardly rare in the Utah Legislature.

When he recently presented his bill designed to muzzle public entities from lobbying for public land protections that might be in their interest, House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee Chairman Keven Stratton, R-Orem, took the unprecedented step of requiring anyone testifying on the bill to be sworn in and subject to perjury.

Stratton suggested some witnesses might not tell the truth. Yet no legislator, including Noel, was required to take an oath.

The Kanab lawmaker said an American Indian group opposed to shrinking Bears Ears National Monument is funded by the Grand Canyon Trust and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

That group, Utah Dine Bikeyah, said the assertion was flat-out false.

Keeping secrets • Stratton, the we-can-fib-but-you-can’t guy, also is co-chairman of the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands, which endorsed spending up to $14 million on a lawsuit that would force the federal government to transfer public land to the state.

The decision was based on recommendations from a consulting group that was paid to determine the viability of such a legal action, although the details of the methodology of the study were kept secret from the two Democrats on the commission.

Celebrating guns • Utah County residents last week received in the mail an advertisement for the official Utah County Henry Golden Boy Rifle, which, according to the ad, would make a great gift or a wonderful fundraising auction item.

A letter accompanying the ad from Heroes and Patriots of Fort Collins, Colo., touts the rifle’s history and how it helped keep Mormon pioneers safe in the 1850s.

The ad arrived the same day as the high-school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 14 students and three staff members.