Of Vokal, the OWH says:
Vokal has shown himself to be a level-headed, dedicated two-term councilman. Although he is a Republican and Mayor Mike Fahey is a Democrat, Vokal hasn’t indulged in small-minded partisan game-playing. On the contrary, he has encouraged productive, respectful relations between the City Council and the Mayor’s Office.
That is the type of mature, nonpartisan leadership Omaha needs.
Vokal has a background in finance and real estate, and he approaches city management from the perspective of a practical businessman. He places particular emphasis on having city departments headed by managers with top-flight administrative skills. He is resolute in saying that the key to solving the city’s budget challenges lies in spending restraint.
Of Daub, they say:
He rightly notes that it was during his watch as may or that the groundwork was laid for many of the central strategic decisions from which Omaha is now benefiting, above all the Qwest Center and the river front development.
Although he is running for mayor this year at age 67, Daub displays the energy and mental sharpness of someone decades younger. Mention any facet of city government, and the ever-quick Daub replies with an analysis that is both knowledgeable and astute. That was the case in the mayoral debate on Wednesday.
However, the OWH does take one dig at Daub (which they did not against Vokal):
But does the Hal Daub of 2009 possess the diplomatic skills to bring people together? That is one of the key questions of this year’s mayoral contest, not least since Vokal earns high marks for pursuing constructive cooperative relations.
And of Jim Suttle? They note:
A disappointment in Suttle’s mayoral run this year has been his overpromising statements about taxes.
His campaign literature states: “Jim will reduce property taxes by eliminating waste, modernizing city government and making more city services available.”
Yet when asked by The World-Herald about that statement, Suttle said he wasn’t necessarily promising to reduce the amount of taxes for any particular Omaha household. But if that’s the case, one wonders whether the English language — as in, “Jim will reduce property taxes” — still has any meaning at all.
Of course with the OWH’s track record, this non-endorsement could be a boon for Suttle. He may blare it from a sound-truck rolling around the Qwest Center tonight, and voters may say, “Hmmm. The OWH hates him. That Jim Suttle just may be my guy….”
The other curious part about their endorsement is that it doesn’t exactly help you when you go into the voting booth. Let’s put it in a way the modern “voter” can understand:
The Mayoral Primary vote is “American Idol” style, not “Survivor” style. In other words, you’re not voting someone out — you’re voting FOR someone, and the top to “For” votes go on to the General. So as much as you want to get rid of Sanjaya (here, Suttle), you’ll just have to hope that your pro-Ruben Studdard (the combined weight of Daub and Vokal) vote gets you there.
And in all seriousness, you have to wonder if the endorsement for two Republicans will simply cause the GOP vote to be split and allow Suttle to sneak in. We actually don’t think this will be the case, but there’s an interesting argument to be made for it.
The OWH’s editorial also referenced last Wednesday’s Mayoral debate. If you really want to watch it (and you didn’t catch it on Cox, because you have a life), you can get it at the Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s web site.
Note: The first TEN minutes is a little “ad” for the young professionals and OWH columnist Robert Nelson attempting a nervous comedy routine. If you’re the type inclined to watch this in the first place, feel free to skip to the ten minute mark.
On the flap regarding the who voted for or did not vote for a property tax increase last week, we promised a follow-up, and we will in about an hour or so. Come back in a bit.
Jim Vokal responded, indirectly, saying that he had always voted against raising property taxes during his eight years on the Council.
After the debate, the Daub camp made the following statement:
On September 21, 2001, Jim Vokal voted for a property tax increase. The vote, on Resolution #2430, raised our mill levy by 2 percent, from 42.523 to 43.387.
Councilman Chuck Sigerson bellowed back:
“To say that by certifying the budget, I’m voting for a tax increase is not only dishonest, it’s a blatant lie”.
The Vokal camp responded saying:
Mayor Fahey proposed a 1.5 increase. Council passed a budget with zero increase. Fahey put his increase back in. The issue came back to the Council the next week, and the Council was unable to over- ride the veto with Marc Kraft out of town. Vokal, Sigerson, Welch, and Thompson voted to override. Brown and Gernandt vote no.
The Council then passed the budget on a 6-0 vote, and the next week certified the tax rate to support the budget on a 7-0 vote, because state law says the Council is obligated to certify a budget and a tax rate and the city attorney recommended a positive vote.
So if the Council couldn’t override the Mayor’s veto, what happens? Those Council members, Vokal and Sigerson included, say that at that point their hands are tied, and they are stuck with the budget, so they just are voting, essentially, that there is a budget and a mil levy and there you go. But at that point, can they still do more?
The argument from Daub’s perspective would go something like this:
The Council and Mayor still have an opportunity to hammer out a mutually acceptable budget before it even gets to the point of the final vote — to set/accept/certify.
There would have been an opportunity to get to a point where there was a mutually acceptable budget. But the Council, including Vokal, ended up agreeing to accept the property tax increase. This is why the vote to set the tax rate is not merely a formality or technicality.
What it should be, but does not have to be, is a resolution that has already been “debated”. So a Council member could still vote “no” on the action to set the rate, but one would hope that the deal was worked out prior to the vote.
In the end, if no agreement for a lower mil levy could be agreed to, could or should the Council have dug in their heels and not voted for the increase? We’re not sure what happens at that point — a government shutdown or the like. And if it is “illegal” to not pass a budget (and mil levy), what happens? Do people go to jail?
Or the other question is, could Vokal (or the others) have voted, “present” or just had a minority vote “no” on the the budget and the property tax increase, as sort of a protest vote? If Vokal had done this, there would certainly be no question at this point.
So we leave it up to you to decide (if this matters to you) who did what or should have done which.
The other part of this is what makes the news and how this is portrayed.
Daub says he’s a tax-cutter and that Vokal is a tax raisers. Vokal says he is a tax protecter, and that “same ol’ Hal Daub” is playing politics with the facts.
Daub on the other hand can argue that Vokal isn’t doing what he says, and can do his best to let others take the fall on any perceived negatives. So it will be interesting to see how both sides play this issue, if it becomes one of the main points of the campaign.
Vokal will/should say:
“Hal, you know that Dan Welch and Chuck Sigerson and I all voted against raising property taxes, and that the final vote was simply procedural. You’re lying about my record for politics sake, and Omahans are tired of that. I have been and will continue to be against property tax increases.”
Or some such.
“Jim, I respectfully disagree with your position that your vote to increase property taxes for Omahans was procedural. But be that as it may, we can both agree that I am the only candidate who actively lowered Omahan’s property taxes while in office. And that is a record that has benefited Omahans, and I hope to continue that work as their next Mayor.”
And Suttle? He’s in favor of “jobs”, or something.