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.
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.”
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?
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.
It 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
* * *
Has 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.
Interesting comments from Governor Pete Ricketts yesterday regarding the prison riots in Tecumseh.
Director of Corrections, Scott Frakes was asked if prison officials “should have known” something like this would happen, given that the prison is over capacity (and has had staffing issues). He responded:
“It’s easy after the fact to say we knew or should have known, because there’s always the potential for something bad to happen in a prison.”
Governor Ricketts, stepped up though and threw this out:
“Director Frakes was being polite but I’ll be more blunt. Those comment are irresponsible and Monday morning quarterbacking.”
Well, maybe there is some MMQing going on there.
But…after a PRISON RIOT…where TWO GUYS WERE MURDERED…when ALLLLLLLL anyone has been talking about for the past nine months is sentencing and prison overcrowding and new corrections policies and yadda yadda yadda…
YOU TALK ABOUT AND ASK THOSE QUESTIONS.
“Irresponsible” would be NOT asking those questions.
Irresponsible would be NOT suggesting that overcrowding is the cause.
Irresponsible would be to NOT ask if this should have been foreseen.
Now, of course, overcrowding may have had nothing to do with it. (The Director says it’s 60 people over capacity, and that is not “overcrowded”. He says that’s 106% or so. He’s the expert. It’s not 300%…)
But to not ask the question — or even to speculate — would be negligence on the part of the media.
Being alarmed at “tough” questions like this is what happens when one hasn’t had to deal with any tough questions in a while.
And kudos to the Gov for taking questions from reporters on other topics after they were done talking about the prison riot.
Though, frankly, this is one of those times where it probably would have been completely appropriate to restrict questions to that topic.
“Beef is Awesome Day” is when you can let things fly.
While overcrowding may or may not have been an issue in the prison riot, it is interesting that “staff retention” certainly IS an issue in Tecumseh.
“We’ve got some recruitment and retention issues in some locations.”
Well, one would think Tecumseh is one of them.
In my most recent podcast on The Wheels Down Politics Show, Tom Becka — now with KPTM Fox42 — talked about how he raced down to Tecumseh on Sunday night to witness what was going on.
Becka notes that he saw signs where they are advertising for guards in Tecumseh.
Again, does this mean that this was a cause, the cause or not a cause? Don’t know. But it is certainly worth asking and pursuing.
In honor of the NBA Playoffs, we’ll call it Monday Morning Point-Guarding…
Senator Deb Fischer is taking the tools she developed as a legislator in Nebraska and applying them to her job as United States Senator.
She proposed an Infrastructure Bank to fund transportation projects to help states build and repair roads and bridges throughout the country.
“My bill adheres to three important points: reduce regulatory burdens, redirect funding, and provide states with more authority to manage their highways and bridges. Nebraska has gained successful results with this model and it’s time to bring best practices from our states to the national discussion. By letting our states manage these projects, we can get America moving safely and securely for decades to come.”