Law enforcement planning show of support on Death Penalty vote

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 9.22.59 AMGovernor Pete Ricketts has scheuduled a press conference for Tuesday for further discussion of the votes for overriding his veto of the Death Penalty Repeal.

At that presser, Leavenworth St. has learned that there is a tentative plan for a display of support for the Death Penalty by county attorneys and law enforcement, along with others from around the state.

As was discussed briefly by the Omaha Police Union, there is also a plan to announce an initiative petition scenario should the Governor’s veto get overridden.


The Governor’s office is also making an effort to show support for the Death Penalty veto by various people around the state.

The OWH aluded to the release in a recent story. Here is what was sent out:

Nebraskans React to Legislature’s Decision to Repeal the Death Penalty

KETV: Ricketts: Legislature ‘way out of touch’ with Nebraskans 

“The Legislature is out of touch with Nebraskans on their vote to repeal the death penalty. The overwhelming majority of Nebraskans support the death penalty because they understand that it is an important tool for public safety. I will continue to work with senators to sustain my veto when I issue it.”

-Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts

Lincoln Journal-Star: Supporters laud passage of death penalty repeal; attorney calls it betrayal

“There have been prior criminal acts in our communities, and I know there will be future criminal acts in Nebraska that will clearly warrant the use of the death penalty as a consequence of the criminal’s heinous, murderous acts.”

-Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson


Omaha World-Herald: A Vote Away from History 

“I ask them how they would feel if it was one of their family members, especially a child who was that young.”
-JoAnn Brandon, mother 1993 Richardson County murder victim

“I represent people, and people understand justice, and they are appalled, absolutely appalled.
-Senator Mike Groene, North Platte


KTIV: Family of U.S. Bank shooting victim speaks out after Nebraska lawmakers repeal the state’s death penalty (VIDEO)

“We’ve done a lot of things just to try to please them and in 40 seconds they can snuff out five lives. They need to be executed.”

-Vivian Tuttle, mother of 2002 Norfolk shooting victim


Norfolk Daily News: County attorney: Legislative action cowardly, disgraceful

 “I’ve heard that people are angry. I’m sure that they feel a sense of betrayal, and very rightly so. They’ve been getting told by the state as a whole for years and years that the people who died were important to us. We thought they wanted to prevent that from happening to other people. Now, they’re told that the people on death row who have committed multiple murders are more important than the people that (the victims’ loved ones) lost and that we saw murdered.”

-Joe Smith, Madison County Attorney


Grand Island Independent: 3 area sheriffs want to see state keep death penalty

“I tell you what, that repealing was the worst thing we’ve seen in years.”

-Greeley County Sheriff David Weeks

 “I think that it’s a major mistake for them to drop the death penalty.”

-Nancy County Sheriff Davis Moore

“There’s cases that we need it. It’s the only just result.”

-Valley County Sheriff Casey Hurlburt


Grand Island Independent: County board calls emergency meeting to discuss death penalty

“I think state senators should represent the people.”

-Hall County Commissioner Pam Lancaster


NBC Nebraska: Heineman’s Point of View on Death Penalty Repeal 

“It’s important for Nebraska to have a death penalty, for the most heinous of crimes. We just had the most recent situation in Omaha, the shooting in Norfolk and a variety of communities across the state.”

-Former Governor Dave Heineman


Letter to the Editor: People should have a say on death penalty

“This is just another case of the words ‘We the people’ falling on deaf ears. The senators have forgotten who the boss is, so I will remind them ‘We the people.’”

-Pierce County Sheriff Rick Eberhardt


Letter to the Editor: Repeal of death penalty wrong move

“Nebraskans should not allow the Legislature to take away the ultimate sanction for horrendous, remorseless behavior that leaves innocent families without their loved ones — for life.”

-Douglas Mang of Omaha


Who could flip?

Joe Duggan at the OWH today lists some state Senators who could possibly flip their vote on the override of Governor Pete Ricketts’ veto of the Death Penalty repeal.

He lists (and some comments)…

Sen. Jerry Johnson of Wahoo
dist23 Could go either way


Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island
Senator Mike Gloor Past Death Penalty supporter


Sen. Brett Lindstrom of Omaha
dist18 Campaigned in support


Sen. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue
dist03 Being targeted to flip


Sen. John Murante of Gretna
dist49Could change his mind (for a variety of reasons)


Sen. Robert Hilkemann of Omaha
dist04 Campaigned in support


and a few others…

Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala
dist47Voted “present”


Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill
dist40Voted “present”


Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete
dist32Could change her mind, based on input from constituents


And frankly all Senators are influenced by their constituents, though certainly at different degrees.


Now all of these, and maybe some others will get the heavy sell over the weekend and the beginning of next week.

It is assumed that Governor Ricketts will be burning up the phones, doing nonstop press interviews and personally twisting arms…

…as opposed to being out of town, or something, during the biggest issue of his entire political career (haven’t seen his schedule).

By the way, think about the difference a personal visit can have on someone. Having to give bad news face to face isn’t easy.

Or think about a personal visit to the Senator’s district by the Governor. One’s own constituents given the direct sell in town?

These are political moves one makes on an issue that is important. We’ll see, right?


On this Carl Curtis – Open Comment – Friday, and into the Memorial Day weekend, feel free to add your thoughts down below.

Rhyme & Reason

SLV Native - flickr
SLV Native – flickr

Interesting day yesterday, no?

The Nebraska Legislature decides to get rid of the penalty of death.

This while also planning on getting rid of mandatory minimum punishments for criminals.

Repeal of the Death Penalty is led by a guy who said the following:

“If I was going to carry a weapon it wouldn’t be against you, it woudln’t be against these people who come here that I might have a dispute with. Mine would be for the police. And if I carried a gun I’d wanna shoot him first and then ask questions later, like they say the cop ought to do. Could I get away with it? You know I couldn’t get away with it. They better hope I never lose my mind and find out I’m on my way out of here.”

(We were told, by numerous Senators and others how this wasn’t a big deal, how this was just Ernie being Ernie, how he had a good point.

How about all of those folks stand up and repeat it today?)

And then in the afternoon in Omaha, a criminal guns down a police officer performing her duties, who also happened to be a new mother.

Everyone can feel free to discuss the theology and justice implications of all of this (FWIW, I found this discussion on the theory of “revenge” to be interesting).

Just throwing out some of the day’s events.

Back to politics…


State Senator John Murante’s vote on the Death Penalty Repeal could have some political consequences.

Murante — who has been a guest on The Wheels Down Politics Show — has been pro-Repeal of the Death Penalty.

Murante also has been thought for some time now to be a likely candidate for the GOP nomination for Nebraska’s 2nd District Congressional seat. He has not yet announced. (Right now the only ones who have are Don Bacon and Chip Maxwell.)

While there have been some who have said that being against the Death Penalty is actually a “conservative” position, it would be interesting to see whether 2nd District Republican voters agree with that.

Or, whether it would be an issue — or whether Don Bacon, or say an independent PAC, would make it an issue.

This subject will likely come up in Legislature races, but the 2nd District would be the most high-profile — and if loudly discussed, would MAKE it an issue in those races.

When Republicans have a hard time differentiating themselves from each other, there are usually a few issues that come to the fore.


And on that note, where a few months ago the feeling was that it would be a Battle Royal for the GOP nomination for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, right now there is an eerie silence.

Shane Osborne and Bryan Slone have dropped off of the top rope and out of the ring. Brian Buescher, who has run for other offices seems to be pretty unlikely.

We have yet to hear anything from Dan Frei on the “Tea Party” wing.

We continue to hear that Garth Glissman is thinking about it, but it might take some serious backing to pull him away from his current gig at Kutak Rock.

There have been some low-level rumblings about some candidate recruitment, but nothing that is really hitting the Richter scale.

Which leaves us with Don Bacon — who has a full-time campaign, serious endorsements and an impressive background.

Then there is Chip Maxwell, who announced last year that he would run, but hasn’t had a full announcement roll-out…yet. He is scheduled to speak — presumably as a candidate — before the DCRP. But as noted here, he is already getting some push-back from the Sarpy County GOP for not being a team-player in the past.

And would Maxwell put together a big-time operation, or go with the shoe-string approach?

Is the 2nd District GOP content with these two — or maybe three — battling it out for the chance to take out Brad Ashford, in what would likely be the best time to defeat him?

A bit of a surprise, no?


Finally, here is an interesting question.

The Governor got what he wanted on “Tax Relief” in the budget.

The LJS noted…

“The additional money for property tax credits — $64 million a year more than before — amounts to about $33 for the owner of a $100,000 home, or $83 for the owner of a $250,000 home.”

Democrat State Senator Heath Mello said,

“Governor Ricketts displayed tremendous leadership today.”


And yet…

Gas Tax increase, Death Penalty Repeal, Drivers Licenses for DREAMers, Medical Marijuana, Voter ID, Winner Take All, Public Votes for Chairman — all going, or went, against Ricketts’ public positions for these votes.

Would Governor Heineman have gotten the rug pulled from under him on these?
Did he?

So here’s a Q:
Did Governor Pete Ricketts really care about ANY of those votes?

Was he ever willing to really spend any political capital on them?

Or has the goal all along just been to say, “Hey look! Tax relief!”
And have the Democrat state Senators roll with him on that — while not really pressing them on these “side” issues.

Or, did he simply get rolled on these issues, not appreciating the effort that it takes to herd the cats in the Unicameral?

Just looking for a little rhyme or reason for all that has happened over the past few months.

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk

The New 3 Stooges 01It was very apparent that the post earlier this week that featured a catalog of votes by the Nebraska legislature (complied by John Orr) touched the nerves of many Democrats in the state.

The Twitters started bouncing around and re-Tweets and names were bandied about, when it was pointed out how partisan and dogmatic the Unicameral’s Democrats really are.

One leading Democrat Twitterer even went so far as to call those who vote party-line “Partisan Stooges.” I guess it doesn’t take tooo much imagination to see Nordquist and Morfeld whacking each other with hammers and ladders, while Mello smacks them both across the mug with a whole tuna.

But again, many in your local media find that to be just fine, as long as they vote in lock-step on THEIR issues — no matter how they conflict with the majority of state voters.

If the Republicans did this, of course, they would be called out as Karl Rovian Robots.


The Governor is pushing the legislature to not repeal the Death Penalty, taking to the press releases and press conference.

(And now, thankfully, taking plenty of questions too. Did we see him use the term “lock-step”?)

Few will be surprised if this is too little, too late. Will any state Senators be influenced?  

Shaking your fist at them after the horse has left the barn won’t do much good.


Nancy Hicks of the LJS has written of Mayor Chris Beutler that he “understands how city government works“ and calls him the “always-thoughtful Beutler”.

Now, possibly in honor of the retiring David Letterman, she decided to double-down and made a “Top 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Beutler.”

No kidding.
(No doubt, she had to whittle it down from the original 90.)

Her list includes things like, “he collected stamps for three years!”
And, lord help us…

“One of his favorite music groups is the ‘Crash Test Dummies,’ a Canadian folk/rock/alternative band widely known for its 1993 single, ‘Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm.'”

This is an affirmative statement.
Made willingly.
Not one that was focus-group tested.
Or spit out after being water-boarded.

This is your Mayor, City of Lincoln.
Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm.

But the pièce de résistance is the last one:

Right now, he’s reading “World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability.

That’s right, Beutler is reading about how the huddled masses in the third world can’t handle democracy, and further, they need lots and lots of redistribution of wealth.

Shocked! Shocked we are, to see a progressive Democrat reading such a tome.

You know Mayor Beutler, next time you should just go for the discount books, right here through my Amazon site:

Das Capital.
The Communist Manifesto.

Gets right to the crux of it all.

Presidential Forum – After Party

On Saturday, May 16, 2015, I attended the Republican Party of Iowa’s Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, where eleven Republican Presidential candidates spoke.

And then there was the After Party, where nine of those candidates held receptions — all next to each other.

For a political aficionado, it was like being a dog at a mailman convention.

Here is a short video of the scene:

There will be more coming from that day and event…

Voting in Lock Step

Mello - Nordquist - lockstep
Democrat state Senators Mello & Nordquist in lock step

From the LJS’s Don Walton in his Monday column:

“…this is a Legislature whose members are free and independent…”

“…judgments without regard to partisan dogma or party caucuses or dictates…”

“…no whips in the Nebraska Legislature…”

“…party identification doesn’t matter…”

“…the Legislature expressed its fundamental nonpartisan and institutional independence…”

Is that right?

Because longtime reader and Washington County Chair, and 1st Dist NEGOP Chairman John Orr recently whipped up some totals on issues before the Unicameral.

Here is what he came up with…

2015 NELEG Scorecard

This is an interesting document to peruse.
But before you go through the whole thing, direct your eyes down to the Democrats at the bottom.

On these votes, Democrats in the legislature are nearly in LOCK STEP.

Doesn’t look that way

Partisan and dogmatic?
Well, of course.

Party ID doesn’t matter?

Ha! If the Republicans voted this way, all we would be hearing is about the “partisan, ideological Republicans” who “only vote as they’re told…”

But when the Dems go that route?
Well, they think it’s awesome!

At least Don does.


And following up on that, another line from The Don:

“Democrats continue to say privately that their relationships with the governor are collaborative, positive and friendly.”

Oh, isn’t that awesome!

How’d those votes go for the Dems??
Just as they wanted?

Maybe, just maybe, these hyper-partisan Dems should be feeling not as positive about the Republican Governor…

As a partisan put it in an email over the weekend, “The Governor can count to 33. If he doesn’t put in a little more effort on the front end of these votes, his influence on the back end is nil.”


Here is an interesting one for you Party goers:

The Douglas County Republican Party (DCRP) has a Central Committee meeting on May 26th.

Their featured speaker is…Chip Maxwell!

Apparently Chip is sticking with his plan to run for the GOP nomination for the 2nd District Congressional seat in 2016. (Did we miss the rollout?)

In any case, not everyone in the 2nd District leadership is into Chip.

Sarpy County Republican Party Chairman Jerry Anderson sent out an email to his list, and noted this about Chip:

Chip changed his Party affiliation to Nonpartisan or Independent late December 2013 and seems to have changed it back to Republican.

I don’t intend to allow him to speak at any of our Central Committee meetings as I don’t consider him to ‘really’ to be a Republican. He changed it then so that he could run as a Nonpartisan or Independent.

He is another Brad Ashford that was a Registered Republican, Independent and now a Democrat.

I believe that we should stop supporting those that change Parties to run as Republican to get elected, here in Sarpy County.

While this is essentially in response to Maxwell speaking before the DCRP, Anderson notes that he isn’t trying to wage battle with them…

I am not passing any judgement on what the DCRP does as they can certain run their Party anyway they want. I am on the State Endorsement Committee and one of the changes we came up with is that you have to be a registered Republican for 3 years before an endorsement could be given. Recommend that we adopt this requirement.

I also believe that any Congressional District 2 candidate needs to provide written statement that they will swear that they will publicly endorse the 2016 Republican Primary winner.

I was forwarded Anderson’s email from an anonymous source who feels that Anderson is going overboard, and shouldn’t be preventing a GOP candidate from speaking.


Not sure what those bylaws say — and probably don’t say — about who gets to have the final say on speakers. Though those Sarpy Countians could probably  find him speaking somewhere else, if they really wanted to. Or have him personally call them, frankly.

But, as Hyman Roth said, “This is the business we’ve chosen!”

Chip could have stayed with the party.
He could have endorsed Lee Terry right after the 2014 primary.
No one made that decision for him.

And Anderson’s point about being a registered Republican for 3 years is also an interesting one — given that there are certainly political animals in Nebraska who know that it can be very difficult for Democrats to get elected.

Politics isn’t beanbag, and Chip Maxwell certainly knew that going in. If you take a tricky stance, you have to be prepared to defend it. And frankly, his universe is much broader than the Sarpy County GOP anyway.

But Anderson makes a legitimate point.
Or at least one to discuss.


I attended the Republican Party of Iowa’s Lincoln Dinner on Saturday, and let me tell you that it was the place to be if you are a Republican in America.

Every single person there had access to talk to, get a photo with and otherwise rub elbows with Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum and Donald Trump (as well as Rand Paul and George Pataki)! All within an area of about a large gymnasium (in a nice convention center).

And the candidates were willing to give you, pretty much, all the time you wanted. They hung around.

It was an Augustus Gloop at the chocolate river moment for politicos (pre-suction tube, that is). I will do my best to put you into the moment, over the next few days, after I have put together all of my media.

In the mean time, you can listen to my short interview with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. He said a few things that should really stir things up should he gain a little more traction, particularly in Iowa.

Be sure to listen, and come back for more on the event.

The Wheels Down Politics Show – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

(Click above to play in the browser or Direct download by clicking here, or by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.)

Lindsey Graham 01U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sits down with Jerry Kratochvil at the Republican Party of Iowa Lincoln Dinner.

They discuss President Obama’s response to ISIS, a potential invasion of Syria, engaging Iran, and closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

They also talk about the Keystone Pipeline and…whether we should change the $20 bill.

On the web: Security Through Strength
Twitter: @LindseyGrahamSC
Facebook: Lindsey Graham


You can find this, and all of our podcasts at and by searching Wheels Down Politics on iTunes.

Sen. Lindsey Graham on invading Syria to defeat ISIS

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) talking about invading Syria to stop ISIS.


LG: To get ISIL out of Syria where they have their largest haven, you’re probably going to need 100,000 troops — about 10,000 American.

And we need to go in there and clean these guys out and hold the territory.

There are thousands of foreign fighters in Syria, many of them have Western passports, they’re going to hit us if we don’t do something about it.

And that’s going to require us, partnering with people in the region, Arab armies, providing capabilities they don’t have, to take these guys on and hold the territory once you take it.

Q: Just so I understand, are you suggesting an invasion of Syria?

LG: I’m suggesting that somebody better go in on the ground and destroy ISIL in Syria, they aren’t going to surrender.

Q: But it’s got to be at least US lead?

LG: There’s gotta be Arab generated Armies with a US component. We have air forces. They don’t. We have technical abilities. They don’t.

There is no way you’re gonna go in and hold the ground after you take it without an American component.

It is in our national security interest to destroy ISIL before they hit us here at home. It is in our national security interest to have some of our soldiers over there preventing them from coming here again. We’re gonna have another 9/11 if we don’t do something about this. The storm clouds are gathering over in Syria and Iraq and Yemen.

And at the end of the day the Arabs need to do most of the fighting, but to think we can defend America with no troops over there is naive.

And I’m here to tell people, if I’m Commander in Chief we’re gonna do what’s necessary.

We’ll need thousands of our soldiers over there helping armies in the region to do things they can’t do to protect millions of us here at home.

Hear the whole interview at

Honeymoon memories

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 9.31.26 AMWelcome to your honorary Carl Curtis Open Comment Friday!

Many commenters think EVERY day on Leavenworth St. is a day to opine about whatever they want (but they would be mistaken). But have at it today!

(And follow the rules…)


Well, Governor Pete Ricketts honeymoon isn’t so much over, as the bedroom door has been slammed and Pete is sleeping on the couch, while his clothes are being dumped onto the front lawn.

The Legislature passed their Gas Tax increase safely over his veto on Thursday.

Up next, drivers licenses for DREAMers, with Death Penalty repeal and medical marijuana all steaming ahead.


But it is worth noting that the legislature thinks they can really get along with the Governor, he is a super nice guy and a good listener.


For those of you keeping track, here are the Legislature’s Republicans who voted to override the Governor’s veto, and increase how much you pay in taxes:

Roy Baker (Lincoln)
Kathy Campbell (Lincoln)
Colby Coash (Lincoln)
Al Davis (Hyannis)
Curt Friesen (Henderson)
Mike Gloor (GI)
Galen Hadley (Kearney)
Dan Hughes (Venango)
Jerry Johnson ( Wahoo)
Mark Kolterman (Seward)
Bob Krist (Omaha)
John Kuehn (Heartwell)
Brett Lindstrom (Omaha)
John McCollister (Omaha)
Jim Scheer (Norfolk)
Paul Schumacher (Columbus)
Les Seiler (Hastings)
Jim Smith (Papillion)
John Stinner (Gering)
Matt Williams (Lexington)

Now you can watch them down the road, and see if there are any repercussions from their vote(s).


It was noted here the other day that the Nebraska prisons — particularly in Tecumseh — have an employee retention problem (which may or may not have contributed to the prison riot in Tecumseh).

A reader noted that one of the big problems in this area is the Nebraska Public Employees Union.

“They prevented the prison administration from moving to a scheduling system more favorable for employees that would help with recruitment and retention.”


Nebraska U.S. Senator Deb Fischer voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016.

She noted:

“The NDAA fully funds STRATCOM’s operations and increases funding in support of its mission. It also includes the $21 million requested by the Air Force for a new dormitory at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. I’m proud to support this year’s proposal and will continue to ensure the brave men and women of our armed services have the tools they need to protect the United States and ensure our strength leads to peace at home and abroad.”


Our thoughts and prayers go out to former Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey and his family, upon the death of his son Pat.

On a personal note, Pat was a high school classmate of mine and a friend way back when.

He had an infectious smile for everyone he met and was a guy everyone liked. His family should know that Pat’s former classmates have found a place (something that Facebook is good for) to gather and share their love for Pat.

Requiescat in pace.

Beutler’s Top Concern

“Cross of Corn” is a contributing writer on Leavenworth St.

sidewalk-chalk-paint-1In Wednesday’s LJS we learned from the President of the Chris Beutler Fan Club (a/k/a Nancy Hicks) that Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler is PERSONALLY policing the Beutler Barberpole he constructed with our tax dollars in downtown Lincoln.

Some young adults were hanging out in the square. A few seemed to be drawing on the dark bricks with sidewalk chalk.

A small gray Honda pulled up to the curb on P Street near 13th and parked illegally. The driver got out, left the engine running and the driver’s door open.

It was the mayor. He walked over to the person writing with chalk, had a conversation, then walked back to his car and drove away.

The chalk drawing stopped.

Yep, that’s right, Mayor Beutler pulled his car over on a Saturday afternoon to scare off a young woman who was using sidewalk chalk to draw on some bricks. (Someone should tell him it washes away and is greenie/enviro-friendly).

The vignette is telling.

Beutler is more than willing to pull his car over on a Saturday to personally police and protect his public art and green projects … but drives right over the potholes and shoddy Lincoln streets, nary a concern.

* * *

Tim Clare 01Has anyone else noticed that Nebraska Regent Tim Clare appears to be a wee-bit more active than his fellow Regents?

In recent days we received a copy of the March/April 2015 edition of “Tim Clare’s Newsletter” (yeah, the catchy title could use a bit of work) highlighting his meetings and appearances throughout the state on behalf of the University. The question is: what’s he running for?

Clare is 52 years old. Is he hoping to run for governor when he’s 60? Is he waiting to see whether Sen. Deb Fischer–already 64 years old–seeks reelection in 2018? Or is he taking a look at Lincoln Mayor in 2019?

Based on his travel schedule and social media posts, we suspect he views himself as a statewide candidate. The Clare name–known to anyone who has ever been a Husker fan–carries a lot. But his greatest success to date–and greatest potential liability–is Pinnacle Bank Arena. The real bills for the project will come after Mayor Beutler has left office . . . just around the time Tim Clare might be running for higher office.

Could it be the Democrats knew that all along?