Two years ago Salt Lake County commissioners Bart Barker and Mike Stewart supported fellow Republican Merrill Cook when he ran unsuccessfully for a two-year commission seat.
Now the two commissioners are bitter political foes of Cook, as evidenced by a 35-minute shouting match the three had before bemused county officials and onlookers during Wednesday's commission meeting.Cook, now an independent candidate for governor, appeared at a commission meeting for the second time in two weeks to protest informational sessions held by county department managers to educate their employees on the potential effects of three tax-limitation initiatives.
Cook says the sessions are used by the county to campaign against the initiatives, and he called an investigation by the county attorney's office that cleared the county of wrongdoing a "whitewash."
But a discussion of Cook's objections quickly deteriorated into a name-calling verbal brawl, with the independent candidate and the commissioners accusing each other of flip-flopping on the issue of fiscal responsibility.
"Two years ago you were applauding the county's methods," of providing efficient government services, Barker told Cook. "You can't suddenly change your uniform."
"You commissioners have changed your uniforms," Cook retorted. "If (Sen.) Bill Proxmire (D-Wis.) were here he'd give you the Golden Fleece award," for using taxpayer money to fight the initiatives.