Police Union vs. Vokal – Round 2


The Omaha Police Union has sent out another flyer targeting Mayoral candidate Jim Vokal.
See it to your right (click to enlarge).

So, coupled with the one from a few days ago, let’s take a look at these on a few different levels.

***

First, the new flyer.
Factual? Did Vokal vote to block Omaha cops from “keeping an eye” or “monitoring” sexual offenders? Well, we don’t think that’s the effect.

The sex offender law passed by the Omaha City Council addresses where a convicted (and known) sex offender can live, how they register, can’t live near a school, etc. etc. Now beyond the helpfulness of this law in the first place (really, just because a sex offender doesn’t live near a school is that going to stop him from, oh, driving to one?), what was the proposed ordinance going to do?

Let’s read what got voted down by Vokal (and Brown, and Sigerson, and Thompson, and Welch) , and what the Police Union is (supposedly) up in arms about:

“The Omaha Police Department shall assist the County Sheriff and the State Patrol in the enforcement, within the City, of the Sex Offender Registration Act of this state.”

So now, without that amendment added, it is still the primary duty of the State Patrol and Sheriff to “verify” where registered sex offenders live, etc.

But does that mean Omaha Police can’t arrest that guy standing next to the playground in their mailer? Of course not.

And frankly, according to the Nebraska Adminstrative Code, regarding Sexual Offender Registration, while it is the State Patrol’s duty to verify that a convicted sexual offender is on the Registry, it states:

“Local law enforcement agencies are requested, but not required, to periodically verify that the registrant is still living at the listed address.”

And:

“Any law enforcement agency, court, or state agency finding evidence of Violations of the Act or these regulations may take any authorized law enforcement action.”

That’s it.

So, as near as we can tell, that “request” is still in effect. And Omaha Police can still do it, with or without the City Council’s amendment. (We don’t claim to be experts on all of this, so if there is something we are missing in this, please feel free to argue your point in the comments.)

***

So, what is this all about then, from the Police Union? 

Uh, it’s ALL about political payback and revenge for Vokal’s opposition on the pension and spiking issue kids. 100%.

The Police Union is getting even with Vokal and they are jumping on this issue to do it. (Issue? Maybe. We’ll discuss more below.)

So the first flyer they sent out was fairly reprehensible. “What is Jim Vokal hiding?” Really, Police Union? Why not just say, “Jim Vokal supports the Sexual Predators Union and is sending them to eat your children.” That would have been more subtle.

And the crap about the number of sex offenders in his district? As if that has anything to do with anything.

Come on.

So how about the newer flyer?

As far as the image and the language of the flyer, we’re not that shocked. This is more run of the mill stuff.

Of course, the photos of all the at-large sexual offenders on the back sort of cracks us up.

See, the implication is that if Vokal had just let the cops check to see if the paperwork was up to date on these guys, they wouldn’t be free now.

Uh…wait a minute. If the cops don’t know where they are, then shouldn’t they just check the Sexual Offender Registry? Oh wait, either they never registered, and “monitoring” them wouldn’t have been possible, or they’re now gone, and monitoring them is not possible.

Oh, and by the way, from KETV:
The flier said the 15 sex offenders are in hiding. But, KETV NewsWatch 7 was able to locate five of them. Michael Suggs has been in federal custody since October. Benji Temple, Jr., is currently in the Nebraska state prison system. Kenneth Wise and James Monie are in the Douglas County jail.

Oh well.

***

Again, we believe the statements on the flyers may be factually false. But let’s say it is true, that the Police are now prevented from checking to see if a convicted and registered sexual offender is keeping his paperwork up to date.  That there is a real issue at stake.

Well, let’s jump over to the response from Hal Daub, who has chosen to get himself involved in all of this.

Now, first, keep in mind that the Daub campaign said that they had no involvement in the ads, and were offended that anyone would suggest that. OK. We’re fine with that.

So the other day, Scott Voorhees asked Daub if he would condemn the ads.

Daub’s response was:

“I don’t like the idea of that kind of approach to an issue.”

He then went on to say why he would have supported the amendment and how he could have worked around the spiking issue.

Now, we agree with Hal that this “issue” can be argued. As noted above, is it an “issue”? Yes, it is.

It was deliberated by the Council and the Mayor and the Police Chief. The Union made their position known. And it was finally voted on by the Council. The issue itself is certainly worthy of discussion, and Vokal should have to defend his vote on it, just like he should have to on anything else he has voted on. Same with Suttle. Same with Daub.

Now Hal gave the reasons why he supported it — mainly because the Sheriff can use the help and it is a public safety issue.

But…here is where Hal blew it.

The point of all this isn’t just the “issue”. It is how everyone is being portrayed.

The Police Union now looks like it is just trying to scare people in order to support spiking, and that they’re vengful.

Vokal looks like he is soft on crime and is forced into a defensive position.

And Daub…well. Here is what Hal SHOULD have said:

“Scott, I do denounce this flyer. I know Jim Vokal, and I’ve met his family. Jim Vokal would never want to do anything that would endanger the lives of his kids, and this flyer by the Police Union implies that he somehow supports that. And I think they should issue an apology.

But I will say, that notwithstanding this despicable mailer, I think Jim Vokal voted wrong on this issue. I can understand that he may have been concerned about spiking, but this amendment still provided an important element of public safety. And he could have avoided the spiking issue by (however it was that he explained this). Just because we don’t like who supports a law, doesn’t mean the law itself is bad or wrong. I would have worked to get around the spiking issue and enhance public safety, as I’ve done in my history as Mayor…”

So, am I saying Daub should have thrown the Police Union under the bus on this?

Yes, I’m saying Daub should have thrown the Police Union under the bus. (Though he’d still be supporting them.)

And here’s why:

When Hal Daub lost to Mike Fahey, was it because people didn’t think Hal was smart enough for the job? Of course not. Was it because people didn’t think he had enough ideas? Yeah right. Was it because they didn’t think he worked hard enough? Pfft.

No, he lost a very close race because of the perception that he was angry and/or mean and/or combative — particularly with that City Council.

So, now on the first blow up of the campaign, everyone will look to see if this is a trick of the same old Hal Daub. Is he the nicer mellower Daub, or is he up to his old tricks? And like it or not, many people believe that he, personally, is responsible for the flyers. That is the perception by many, like it or not.

If he wants to beat that perception, he has to play this sort of eruption differently. He needs to be squeaky-nice, but can still be the smartest guy in the room. People WANT him to be the smartest guy in the room. But they don’t want him to be the nastiest as well. And to do that, he needs to go MUCH harder on the “nice” than just “I don’t like that approach”.

***

While we’re giving political advice on this, we would also say to Jim Vokal that telling KPTM that he voted against it because he believes police time is better spent fighting gangs and gun, ain’t the way to approach this.

You can’t say that police should ignore sexual offenders because other stuff is more important. You just can’t say it. You say, the police are already helping, or that you want to look for another way to make it work, or some such. You hammer that this was just a spiking issue. 

People are freaked out by the mysterious sexual offender who looks like a regular guy, but might attack their kids. You gotta understand that.  (Like this WOWT story last night hammered home.)

Vokal’s statement, straying from the spiking point, may have just screwed up his position on this — going from “spiking politics” to “voting issue”. 

***

Oh and where’s Jim Suttle in all this? Standing on the sidelines, saying he won’t talk about his plans for the police pensions. Biding his time.  Giving the same non-response about needing jobs to fight crime.

And hey, Hal even said he appreciated Suttle’s toboggan run plan because, at least he is coming up with ideas.  Yeah, riiiiiiight.   If Suttle makes it into the general election, we don’t think Hal will be taking that tact. 

It’s pretty clear both Vokal and Daub think the other is the one to beat. It will be interesting to see how slippery Jim Suttle can really be.

34 comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Are there any voters paying attention to this race? I guess the mailers about Jim Vokal and sex predators help, but both Vokal and Daub are off TV. So maybe Suttle is actually being smart and “keeping his powder dry”? Just a thought.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why not just say, “Jim Vokal supports the Sexual Predators Union and is sending them to eat your children.” Judging from the last post picture, it looks like Hal Daub eats children for sport. Maybe they can send him instead…

  3. 3rd floor watcher says:

    No problem Sweeper, I’m glad to provide information for the site. However, this is not a spiking issue. Spiking is a management issue, PERIOD. Aaron Hanson of the Police Union doesn’t award overtime or direct police related activities, the Chief and his managers do. Where was Jim Vokal for eight years as he saw overtime abused???? The Omaha budget directly includes overtime as a line item which Jim Vokal supposedly read and approved. Jim Vokal is mad because he can’t defend himself on this one and now he is the spiking crusader.

    I want to see where Jim Vokal offered an amendement to any of the City’s budgets to cut police overtime.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Vokal wants to spend more time and resources fighting gangs in Omaha? Maybe he should spend some more time and resources and FIGURE OUT there are slightly more gangs in Omaha than 29 (like maybe a hundred or so). If after eight years in office, Vokal (or Jordan) can’t figure that out, how can he possible be trusted to handle more serious issues.

  5. Street Sweeper says:

    3FW:

    If you want to argue about how spiking works, etc. Have at it. I’ll let others take the lead.

    If you want to argue that cops should be checking sex offender registrations, go for it.

    But let’s not pretend that the Omaha Police Union had some altruistic, good-Policin’, motive behind the flyers.

    They are political payback for Vokal’s opposition on pensions and spiking, pure and simple.

    (And since that may not have been crystal clear in the post, I have edited.)

    Yours,
    SS

  6. In the Tank says:

    Streetsweeper you are truly ‘amazing’. I’m not sure why you don’t just get an Op Ed column in the World Herald or a job as Communication Director for Vokal (if you aren’t already). You have once again demonstrated your mastery of diversion and misdirection. How you managed to go from sex offenders aren’t the issue to its all about spiking and then manage to take shots at Daub in just a few paragraphs is beyond me.

    It IS all about ‘crime’. Vokal’s vote IS important and the number of ‘offenders’ in his district is relevant. Here is why? As a representative of District 3, Vokal should have voted in their best interest. Since Vokal’s district has the largest proportion of these offenders, his constituents stood to gain the most. Police using their ‘idle’ time to verify offenders is not ‘spiking’ or a ‘misallocation’ of resources (that could have been used elsewhere) it is a coordinated approach to good neighborhood policing.

    Second, academic studies demonstrate that recidivism for sex offenders is higher among those who are most violent AND for those who are placed in close proximity to their victims (near schools). Yes, they can ‘drive’ to schools but when they live in the same neighborhood they become ‘comfortable’ with the local environment as opposed to a ‘drive by’ offense.

    Finally, and MOST important (which you seem to miss), is that seldom can you open up the World Herald without hearing about another attempted robbery, aggregated assault or homicide. If Jim Vokal can’t seem to vote the ‘right’ way on a ‘sex offender’ bill which would clearly have benefited his local constituents, what does that say for his ability to combat violent crime city-wide? Maybe the Police Union has figured out what you are refusing to acknowledge. Vokal has demonstrated his inability to address the broader issue of crime and Daub took on violent crime as Mayor. You can make all the disparaging comments about Daub and prop up Vokal all you wan, but those are the facts and why this is an important. It is all about CRIME!

  7. Street Sweeper says:

    Geez, that was a lot of keystrokes to accomplish nothing.

    While I’m about to get some lunch, I’ll respond, since you took so much time to type.

    1) Some people seem to think the Registry is a good idea. I question how effective it really is, but I’m willing to let others give it their all. I would note that Vokal, and the rest of the Council, is in favor of it.

    2) If it’s an issue, it’s citywide. The fact that there are offenders in Vokal’s district it a made-up argument. Twist yourself in knots on that all you like. It has nothing to do with anything.

    3) Vokal or Daub or Suttle may or may not have the answers on crime issues. But that’s not the point here. The point is that the Police Union is out for Vokal b/c he could cost them money. That’s it.

    So again, is the cops “monitoring the registry” effective or worthwhile? Beats me. Daub says yes, Vokal says no, Suttle says “more jobs”.

    But the issue here (as we here in the POLITICAL world frame it) is the cops intent, and the candidates responses.

    Rock on. (I’m hungry.)

  8. Anonymous says:

    Anon 11:52 — GREAT POST! I totally agree. I’m pretty flabbergasted about SS’s flippant comment about sex offenders living near a school vs. driving by too. Let me guess, SS doesn’t have any kids of his/her own?

  9. 3rd floor watcher says:

    The police already were taking Spiking off the table Sweeper. Both sides knew the imbalance was to great to keep it. The police and the mayor were discussing the percentage of base salary and adjusting the legnth of service to take spiking off the table. Also the use of averaging of multiple years of salary was a point as well to rectify the one year 130k salary one officer used for his baseline.

    Question for Sweeper: Don’t you agree Jim through the budgeting process could have clamped down on overtime???

  10. Anonymous says:

    It’s way too easy for Jim Vokal (and SS!) to just say, “Bah! This is all just retaliation regarding spiking!” and not expect anyone to examine the issue.

  11. Anonymous says:

    And it’s a heck of a lot easier when Street Sweeper is using the same talking points, and shutting down anyone who disagrees.

    “…let’s not pretend that the Omaha Police Union had some altruistic, good-Policin’, motive behind the flyers. They are political payback for Vokal’s opposition on pensions and spiking, pure and simple.”

    You give yourself away.

  12. In the Tank says:

    SS,
    Because you’re ‘out to lunch’ here are your ‘just desserts’ for when you return.

    Since you are inferring that you are more enlightened POLITICALLY than the rest of us let us consider the arguments from your perspective (and the folks will see that it lacks merit).

    IF we are to believe the polling, Daub and Vokal are the front-runners and will likely face-off in the General. Daub’s entire political record is one of fiscal conservatism. In fact I’d be willing to wager that he probably still has saved the first nickel he ever earned. If, spiking were really the issue, why would the Police Union go to all that trouble to sabotage Vokal just to get someone who is more frugal in Daub? Since Vokal didn’t re-file for his Council seat, assuming that he loses the mayor’s race, he would be out of the Police Union’s proverbial ‘hair’ anyway. It doesn’t add up Sweeper (unless of course one is using it as a paper tiger to defend Vokal’s ‘indefensible’ position on his vote).

    I offer the following in response to your assertion that the number of sexual offenders by district is a ‘made-up argument’. To the families with kids in District 3 (who no-doubt know the statistics on the likelihood of repeat offenses) the fact that they HAVE the greatest number of offenders in their neighborhoods (which translates into their children having the greatest likelihood of being victimized) and Vokal could have done something about it has EVERYTHING to do with it. The Police Union figured that out, when will you?

  13. Street Sweeper says:

    Dear Knucklebrain:
    It’s a good thing I did just eat lunch b/c it was a lot more filling than your last empty comment.

    (Ha! See, I can make witty lunchtime analogies too!)

    But seriously folkes…

    On your Dist 3 “point”: Omaha ain’t New York City. “Dist 3” is hardly a borough. Whether Vokal is representing West O or is elected citywide shouldn’t make it any more or less impacting if you are for or against his vote. The implication in the mailing is that Vokal is responsible b/c they’re in HIS Dist, which is both intellectually dishonest and stupid. (Quite a feat.)

    As far as the polls go — the Union’s attack should bolster the Vokal camp’s feeling that it is a close race.

    The Union must feel they can get a better deal out of Daub. And that’s not a bad thing. But stop trying to pretend that it’s something else — while smearing the other guy.

  14. Street Sweeper says:

    But ya know, as I sit here digesting, one thing kills me:

    All you raging Daub-aholics (or are you closet Suttle-folk?), convinced that I’m against your guy, have failed to even MENTION the astute political advice given to both the Daub and Vokal camps, towards the end of the post.

    Which is the point of discussion of the post. And the point discussion of this blog.

    But, you know, flail about, if you must…

  15. OmaSteak says:

    Despite your spirited defense Sweeper, this is gaining traction, media coverage and Vokal is getting hurt big time. Climb out of that Vokal tank Sweeper…OPD officers cannot spend time between radio calls verifying the residence locations of high risk sex offenders without permission. One officer was doing that back at the time of Vokal’s vote and he was ordered to stop.

  16. Street Sweeper says:

    From WOWT:

    “Channel 6 News has learned that like his predecessor, the current Chief — Eric Buske says his officers would help if asked but believes the job generally goes to the state patrol and sheriff.”

    So if help is needed, why doesn’t somebody ask?

  17. Street Sweeper says:

    Because I listen to the scanner nightly as I crouch in the corner with my shotgun.

    So ask the Police Chief. Oh, and while you and your buddies at the Union are at it, ask the Police Chief again every night for the last three years while this apparently wasn’t going on.

    Since it’s apparently urgent — you know for the safety of THE CHILDREN (add Hillary inflection there) and all…

  18. macdaddy says:

    I fail to see how these flyers help Hal Daub and hurt Vokal. What I see happening is the police union shooting itself in its collective foot, though. It’s all over the news that police and firefighter pensions are going to bankrupt Omaha. At the same time, the murder/gun violence rate is through the roof. And now the police are smearing a city councilman who says he’s going to keep the cops from spiking. The perception is that Omaha has a police force that is overpaid, nasty, and ineffective. They must be dealt with for Omaha to improve.

    Hal Daub can capitalize on this to make the case that he is best suited to deal with the police union, but if he’s banking on Omaha voters to be lazy and get all their information from mailers, well, good luck with that.

  19. macdaddy says:

    And another thing. Daub shouldn’t be very happy about those mailers, because they distract from his message. Instead, people are discussing the mailers and, since they are targeting Jim Vokal (and none of the other councilmen who voted down the proposal), Jim Vokal. Not Hal Daub. So Vokal gets free publicity and sympathy. Hmmm, maybe the police union and Vokal really are in cahoots. I hadn’t considered that.

  20. OmaSteak says:

    Suttle has a plan for dealing with the unions. He won’t tell anyone what it is…but he has one. BTW, when he was on BigSports590 the other day he had some great other uses for the downtown ballpark. More religious festivals…”we have lots of religions in America” and “you know those big jumping horse shows”. I wonder what the cost of renewing the field turf would be after even one such event. You just keep on thinking Jim! LOL!!!

    PS – some candidate should run on the idea to end city employee pensions altogether. Convert each new unionized employee to a 401(k) style plan and then when the city goes bankrupt, they can default on the pensions owed to current unionized employees.

  21. Anonymous says:

    So far there seems to be a bunch of Hal Daub disciples, a few Vokal supports and a moderator (who barely seems to be holding his own) running on about a subject that few seem to be very informed about.

    SS reported facts and interjected his opinion which frankly seemed Un-biased to any one party – though I did agree with his assessment of the Police Union.

    The Police Union has a beef with Vokal and Frank about the overtime and pension issue.

    The Police Union with or without the support of Daub is attacking Vokal with a highly sensitive issue (Sex offenders).

    The Police Union’s attack is without fact and while probably effective, is an embarrassment to the men and women who wear badges and work hard to maintain a good image in the public eye.

    Fact: Nebraska Code does not direct local police departments to look for released sex offenders. Why one may ask? Because like cats and bouncy balls these people move around a lot. ESPECIALLY since more often communities are placing restrictions on where sex offenders can live.

    Omaha Police do not have jurisdiction in Valley. So if a S.O. moves from 40th and Blondo to Valley, OPD can not follow them there. The NSP can and the DCSD can. In the event they move out of the county, NSP can follow them. The Unicameral screws so much stuff up – this one they actually GOT RIGHT!

    There is not necessarily an enforcement issue here – the guys on this list did not “register” with the NSP. (which I am sure is some sort of violation of law) They have not necessarily committed another sexual assault…. which brings me to what the Police Union COULD have done with the money they spent sending out disgusting attacks on an elected public official.

    There seems to be overwhelming public opinion that once a convicted sex offender always a sex offender…. so obviously the prevailing “wisdom” is rehabilitation does not work. The debt to society so to speak remains unpaid.

    If the Police Union really feels that these guys remain a danger – and I am incline to agree with them – then maybe they should have used those funds to publicly lobby the Unicameral to increase the incarceration time for Sex Offenders.

    Rather you support Vokal or not, adjust yourself to the fact that he voted along the lines of not only four other councilmen, the police chief and the mayor but also the state law.

  22. Anonymous says:

    As I write this on Saturday the 21st, Vokal has not officially filed for Mayor. I am not sure what is the delay, but from a p.r. standpoint it doesn’t look good to delay it any longer. I like Jim, but I think the campaign is floundering.

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