Chatting with Don

Welcome Lincoln Journal Star readers!  We hope you take a look around now and come back to Leavenworth Street in the future,

We thank the Lincoln Journal Star’s Don Walton for his interview with Leavenworth Street (which you can read in full, here).

Don intro-ed his piece, in part, with:


Ah, the mystery. Who is Street Sweeper?…

Street Sweeper sounds like the name of a Dickens character. Imagine some guy in black wearing a stovetop lid and carrying a broom.
Get on the case, Holmes.

After that, he pretty much copied and pasted our email interview from what I wrote.

He did trim a few parts, but here is what I wrote back to Don in response to his questions:

1) When did Leavenworth Street debut?

Our first posts were on January 17, 2006.

2) How did you choose your name? What came in second?

We decided we wanted something with an Omaha identifier; Dodge Street was too trite; Howard Street was a bar; we came down with Leavenworth Street because we grew up going to places like Broncos and LaCasa, and eventually graduated to the Barretts and Paulis and Marelybones pubs. I don’t think it was happenstance that ESPN chose Pauli’s on Leavenworth Street as their home away from home. Sure it was the Cubs bar, but also, other than probably South Omaha, that stretch of Leavenworth Street has a feeling of the heart of Omaha (well, to us anyway).

Second place was Mike Fahey Street.

3) How did it all come about? A conversation over coffee or a beer, an event, an idea, a challenge, a dare?

After an evening of too many Dr. Peppers, a morning discussion led to mutual disdain for the political bent of many so called news stories in an unnamed daily newspaper HQ’d in Omaha. We were tired of the fact that the paper had no checks or balances for opposing political views. They were unchallenged. So, our first suggestion was an underground newspaper — but we realized we weren’t in a 1970’s high school. So the concept of a blog came to place.

4) What is the purpose or goal of Leavenworth Street? Has it evolved?

The idea was always to discuss politics, and create an alternative to the local main stream media. And to add some entertainment, irreverence and fun to the discussion.

Every once in a while we hit policy issues where appropriate, but otherwise the goal is to discuss politics.

5) Who are you? are you one or more? What do you do at work and play?  Age range? Gender? Presumably, you live in Omaha? Have the players (if plural) changed?

As I responded recently on Twitter: I’m Batman.

Here’s my response to those who want to know who writes Leavenworth Street, etc. You want to know who Street Sweeper is, read the blog. We have been doing it for over four years now — having at least one new post every week since we began (a small point of pride). If you read someone for four years, I would hope you could get to know what that person is like, what they think, where they are coming from. Would knowing that the person’s name is Jamie McChavezski really help you to know more? Maybe a little, but then what would you do with that information?

I would rather be judged on the merits (or demerits) of what I write.

6) Do I know you?

Does anyone really “know” anyone?

7) Why the anonymity? How many people know who you are? Who is most likely to give you up?

Basically, because we would be unable to continue with the blog if our employers knew we did it.

8) If you were trying to discover who you are, what clues would you pursue?

Professor Plum. In the conservatory. With the lead pipe.

Seriously, I don’t know what there is to gain by discovering who writes the blog. It’s ALL right there in front of you.

9) Do you try to score first with news online? you posted mark lakers online first other recent firsts? has that become more of a goal?

While we mainly comment on the news and the associated politics, it is fun to occasionally get a scoop. The Lakers thing was fairly random, though probably wasn’t that big of a deal. We were happy to be able to provide an open forum for Jim Esch’s full explanation of why he decided to quit the Democrats. And our discovery of Jesse Jackson Jr.’s karate prowess after his spat on the House floor with Lee Terry was copied nationally. (Still very proud of the scoop that the City of Omaha was taking over the local newspaper.)

One regret was when we “outed” KPTM’s Calvert Collins Facebook photo supporting Jim Esch — which eventually led to her getting fired. We certainly didn’t intend that, and hope that it didn’t cause too much pain for her. Though she has a new gig in Las Vegas, so maybe we helped.

Our goal is still to discuss politics. If that entails the occasional scoop, hopefully that brings in more readers.

10) How do you hear or discover this stuff? Conversation when socializing? Work contacts? Networking? Sources? Got some moles?

We follow the money. Or, it’s just plain old contacts. It’s rare that we take something we learned in a social situation and discuss it publicly.

11) How many readers do you have? Has that number been growing?

We certainly don’t have the numbers of the big national blogs. Our readership is still mainly Nebraska, and we have no problem with that. It has been steadily growing over the years.

12) So, is this political passion or internet passion? Goal-oriented or recreation? Work or play? Are you having fun?

All of the above? Really a political passion. A goal would be a better informed public. There are times when it feels like work, but in the end, if it wasn’t a little fun, we would absolutely stop. That’s why we toss in the occasional political Separated at Birth. It’s politics and it’s government, but occasionally you gotta lighten up, right?

56 comments

  1. Nathan says:

    "We were tired of the fact that the paper had no checks or balances for opposing political views"

    So to counter the OWH's conservative viewpoint you start a conservative blog? Hows that reverse psychology trick thingy workin for ya?

    I jest I jest! Im glad there is a blog like this where issues can be discussed. Thanks for doing this.

  2. Julie Schmit-Albin says:

    SS: Nice story in the LJS with Walton. I still remain clueless as to your identity(ies)? but the intrigue is part of the attraction. Keep having fun.

  3. Brian T. Osborn says:

    The thing I love about Leavenworth Street is it's Wild West atmosphere. Everyone can say almost anything, so long as it isn't outrageously defamatory – or include links.

    Despite Sweeper's obviously conservative bent, he (?) generally goes about his business with a sense of humor and humility. He doesn't pontificate from on high, as some other Nebraska bloggers are well know for doing.

    I appreciate what you have been doing Sweeper, despite our obvious differences, given that I am a self-proclaimed far left leaning Democrat.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Bob says:

    Why the anonymity?

    Put your name to an op-ed critical of Ben Nelson and you will find out. Almost everyone who ever criticized him in public got a private call from Bogyman Ben.

    Nelson thinks pork, bribes, and intimidation are the best of politics. He is scary nuts.

    When Walton asked "Why the anonymity?", you should have answered that you didn't want to wake up some night to find Nelson standing over you with an axe.

  5. Ricky says:

    Congrats Leavenworth Street; you made the big time getting mentioned in Don Walton's column.
    I should get some mention; I followed you for years.
    Also, I marched with Tom White yesterday at the St Paddys Day Parade downtown.
    He was proud of his grass roots movement he said.
    Rep Terry was there. I did not see what kind of crowd he had but it had to be boring walking with him.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I'm sure all the poor pregnant women who can't afford health care find the Leavenworth Street Blog a big help in their lives.

  7. Brian T. Osborn says:

    Anon 12:56,

    Well, it IS an open forum. If you haven't been on here rooting for your favorite topics … who's fault is that? If all you do is rant over on NNN, preaching to the choir as it were, who's going to hear you? If you want to make a difference in Nebraska, this is the place to do it. After all, who do you need to convince, those that already agree with you?

  8. Right Wing Professor says:

    Kudos, Sweeper.

    Noticeable that the section that was most heavily trimmed was the criticism of another Nebraska newspaper. Thick as thieves.

  9. Anonymous says:

    LJS also mentioned NNN–

    The diff is pretty big between the two. There are usually dozens of comments here on any given post. NNN rarely has more than one or two.

    Even Vile Kyle admitted a few weeks ago that their site was too shrill and hypocritical. He's right.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The last four articles on NNN have one comment, and surprisingly enough it wasn't his part-time coeditor, Lisa Hannah.
    What ever became of Kyle's other coeditor, David Sund? It seems that even he tired of Michaelis' egomaniacal rants.

  11. Anonymous says:

    who had the best St Patricks Day delegation? Photos please!!!!

    The best was the human filing cabinets for Trish Lanphier

  12. One Out In The Third says:

    SS…

    Congrats! But watch out…Walton is setting you up for the sucker punch. He knows that you have a brother living north of Funk. And don't go getting a big head…you didn't make the "Most Read" (although I suspect you have hit the link a few hundred times yourself)…and you only garnered 4 "Most Commented" by days end.

    Keep doing what you are doing.

  13. The Pip says:

    Congrats, Sweeper. It is always entertaining. I ain't buying it that you are a street sweeper. I think you are a chiminey sweep that gets a pint too many at Barrets and runs rooftop to rooftop singing Chim Chiminey, Chim Chiminey, Chim Chim Chiree……

  14. Anonymous says:

    Didn't see Tom all morning. Did White walk with the candidates or did he take privilege and walk in the front of the parade?

    We saw daddy and stepmommy dearest though.

  15. Nathan says:

    RWP,
    I think that is because the OWH owns the LJS, I think they do anyway but I could be wrong I suppose.

    And may God Bless the Irish, and no one else!

  16. Terry Supporter says:

    Ricky: Congressman Terry had a very big group and I would like to state with pride that we handed out over 5,000 some stickers.

    St. Sweeper: We'll have some photoes and videos hopefully coming your way later this week.

  17. Right Wing Female says:

    I read about you in the LJS this morning and I am so glad I checked out your site. I am so glad I have found a great political site dealing with Nebraska politics. I am going to visit often. Thanks SS for the interview.

  18. Anonymous says:

    To March 14 10:53PM Handing out 5,000 stickers means that a bunch of children had a good time with stickers, a parent was busy taking them off clothing on laundry day and White's opponent got a deal on stickers. Big Whoop.

    In the words of Clara Pella:
    "Where's the meat?"

  19. Uncle Wiggily says:

    Actually, I'm purty sure Clara's cry was "Where's the beef" … but hey … never expect anonymous prog's to pay too much attention to accuracy.

  20. Brian T. Osborn says:

    I see that Kyle has tweeted that you can have me for keeps, Sweeper. Today he tweeted, "@LeavenworthSt If you want BTO, you can keep him. Full custody. Let's not prolong this any further. He likes you better anyway."

    Awwwwwwww, what's he gonna do if I never post anything on NNN again? When I do, its about the only time he has more than three or four comments to his rants. I guess he'll just have to pout and throw his usual temper tantrum. He's tried a couple of times to silence my voice within the Democratic Party; maybe he'll try to convince you to silence me here too.

    Several of my friends are taking bets on how long it will be before Kyle becomes a Republican. He's certainly trying his hardest to turn the NDP into the GOP. From his lofty perches on the Communications and Rules Committees he's done all he can to come up with draconian rules to PUNISH anyone in the party that doesn't act the way HE wants them to. It is a shame that I just can't bring myself to give him the recognition that he is really due.

    I guess the best thing that I like about Leavenworth Street is that it isn't controlled by Kyle Michaelis.

    Keep up the good work, Sweeper.

  21. Street Sweeper says:

    BTO,
    I wasn't aware that you were up for adoption. Or that you were in Kyle's "custody" in the first place. What sort of bizarre foster program is he running?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Sweep! You're messing up. We now know for sure that you are not Kyle Michaelis. Keep it up, and by the process of elimination we'll know exactly who you are.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The beef will be proven in the healthcare vote this week.

    Ian, remind me again, how much does Tommie Boy White love Nancy Pelosi's Healthcare Plan?

    BTW, I thought all tax cuts were supposed to be paid for. What program is Tom White cutting to pay for his tax cut in the middle of local budgets that have already been prepared?

  24. Ricky says:

    Dear Terry Supporter,

    Rep Terry had that same old tired blue sign of his at the parade on Saturday. He should get original.
    Don't you think it is time somebody else had a chance to represent District 2?
    When will Rep Terry debate his primary opponent? I am guessing never; Terry running scared.

  25. Brian T. Osborn says:

    Sweeper,

    Kyle only THINKS he owns the NDP. The reason I frustrate him so is that I encourage everyone to be as snarky and opinionated as I am. I refuse to take my marching orders from the oligarchy that Kyle adores. I piss him off because I stand for the people, and not just the powerful ones that give him the warm fuzzies.

    I guess when it comes right down to it, I have nothing to offer Kyle except principles, rights and responsibilities. He's more interested in those that might eventually give him a nice cushy job like his pal Ian got with Tom White.

  26. Anonymous says:

    When is Tommie Boy going to tell Nebraska how he intends to pay the bill for all the programs that sales tax funds?

    I suppose he figures that next year he'll be back in private practice suing the Cities and Counties in Nebraska and it won't be his problem anymore how the Bills get paid for.

    I am all for less taxes, but the budget must be balanced. If you aren't willing to cut something then it is irresponsible to take away financial resources.

  27. GeosUser says:

    BTO,
    The idea that the "progressive" doing the New Nebraska Network blog would join the GOP is the most humorous thing I've read in a long time. It's much more likely he'll join you in becoming a card carrying member of the American Communist Party since you both consistently promote their philosophy and political agenda.

  28. Anonymous says:

    From a democrat, when I see both Vile Kyle and BTO talking about who is better than one another. Most of us wish they would both go away. Kyle who will brown nose his way to the top. Then BTO who is all talk and no do. Both have all these great solutions on line. But when it come to either one of them doing any of the real work in the party they are both too busy slinging mud at one another and the people who do the work in the party. Both of them are very much my way or the high way type people. Not much to like or admire in either case. The funny thing about both of them is how much people laugh about them behind both their backs.

  29. Anonymous says:

    BTO–personally, I like the fact that you post here. Please keep it up. No one posts at NNN because it has become, as Kyle himself acknowledged, 'shrill' and 'hypocritical'.

    If a poster disagrees with Vile Lyle, he insults. The act has gotten very tiring.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I second the "nice interview" comments and am glad I bothered to read Don Walton for once. I don't get the complaints about the OWH. I haven't subscribed to the OWH in years, so maybe that's the problem. But have you guys read the LJS any time in the last, say, 20 years? Ugh.

    Anyway, I'm glad to see a blog like this dealing with Nebraska politics. I hope to visit often.

  31. Brian T. Osborn says:

    Anon 7:46,

    Keep telling your little lies and maybe even you will begin to believe them … eventually. As for doing any of the REAL work, what have YOU ever done? Since you're just another anonymous leaky sphincter, no one will ever know.

    As for the real work I've done, go check out the NDP CDO3 website and blog, the NDP County Chairs Caucus Facebook page and blog, or attend the upcoming CDO3 quarterly meeting in Funk – that I am in charge of organizing. Then again, you could ask some of the folks out here in the 3rd CD who has helped them with setting up and cleaning up afterwards, many of the other meetings we have out here. Tell me, oh Great and Powerful Anonymous one, how many committees you've volunteered to serve on in the NDP, how many meetings you've spent your hard earned income on traveling all over the state to do the work of the NDP on, and how many of the abuses of power by the NDP oligarcy YOU have stood up to.

    I didn't think so.

  32. Anonymous says:

    As one anony, BTO, I have done many meetings, served in varrious leaderships roles, and heck even been elected.

    Yet I am only one Anon in a sea of anonimity:)

  33. Brian T. Osborn says:

    Anon 2:30,

    I guess we'll have to take your word on that; but, of course, with anonimii … you just never know for sure, now do you?

    Some have asked me why I don't tear into Steet Sweeper for remaining anonymous. Well, my answer to that is that Sweeper has never demonstrated himself to be deserving of my wrath. The articles that appear here, although often contrary to my personal philosophies, are well written, usually backed with enough support to maintain the argument being addressed, and are never spiteful, unsubstantiated, personal attacks such as yours. Sweeper allows his posters to disagree with what he's written without running into the room with his hair on fire, screaming foul, and denouncing everyone as being the worst thing that ever happened to Western Civilization.

    (By the way, Sweeper, just to make it easier for us to address you when we do refer to you in our posts, could you at least let us know your gender?)

  34. Brian T. Osborn says:

    See, Anon 3:01,

    Sweepers response not only was witty and concise, all the while demonstrating the value of using the English language correctly.

    OK. Sweeper. Will you please let us know your gender?

  35. Anonymous says:

    Damn! Sweeps, you sound a lot like the leadership of the NDP when you answer questions that way. Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Nebraska Democratic party?

  36. One Out In The Third says:

    Oh NO! Does that mean Lisa Hannah will be moving in? C'mon Sweeper you better be developing some kind of set of standards.

  37. One Out In The Third says:

    BTO…

    Let the mystery of the Sweeper prevail. This scenario is sorta like "V For Vendetta." You wearin' a mask Sweepy?

  38. Anonymous says:

    Hannah may be sneaking in under the radar already 1/3. Rumor has it that she's posting under a second I.D. on NNN. It's a dead give away when she does it. Multiple personalities is not one of the psychological problems she suffers from. Unfortunately.

  39. Anonymous says:

    BTO- well you do have a point but none the less I will try to distinguish my posts with either a grammer unique signature or such. Rest assured I am "involved" at or very near the top of the Nebraska food chain. BUT not the top…. more like a lamprey….. well maybe not a brain dead blood sucker, just aligned with the majority most of the time:)

  40. Brian T. Osborn says:

    Anonymous 9:52pm,

    To differentiate yourself from the other anonimii, click on the Name/URL button, type in a nom de plume (URL is optional) then hit "publish." It's so easy, even Geico's caveman could do it. Even easier, get a Google account.

    Now, A- 9:52pm … I assume you are the same as A-7:46am and A-2:30pm. You know, rump roast comes from "at or very near the top of the Nebraska food chain." And we all know what THAT is next to.

    Lamprey? Sheeple? What's the difference? Being aligned with the majority most of the time takes no effort. All you've gotta do is sit back and wait for someone to tell you what to think.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I wonder why Terry's staff handed out 5,000+ stickers. Maybe its because of their boss' ranting and raving about not seeing enough stickers at the same parade like 3 or 4 years ago.

    Figures – it goes without saying Lee is a big a$$, but Tom White is an even bigger a$$.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Except, Lee Terry doesn't "rant and rave" about things. He decides what he wants to get done ad delegates or does it himself.

    White is the one that spends his days looking for a fight. I wonder where he got that bad habit?

  43. Cave says:

    BTO- ok.

    As far as running with the herd and not making a decision you might be surprised.

    Thanks for the input on using the Name button.

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