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.”
“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.”
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.