Texting it in

ttyinterceptThe Death Penalty reinstatement forces coalesced in Lincoln yesterday with State Treasurer Don Stenberg and State Senator Beau McCoy now on board, and the Governor’s personally paid assistant, Jessica Moenning, running the show.

One would think they will have enough/plenty of cash behind the effort, and with the Nebraska Accountabilty and Disclosure Commission requirements, people will get to see who is supporting the effort — and who will eventually be opposing it as well.

On an issue like this, Nebraskans want to know who is funding each side — and that it’s not just a bunch of out-of-state or even foreign interests trying to push the voters one way or another.

Assuming this is done right and gets on the November 2016 ballot, this is an issue that could really bring voters out of the woodwork — especially if polls show it’s close.

This is all the way St. George Norris wanted it, right?


As was discussed yesterday, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert is still trying to decide the best way to go on the public records requests by the Omaha World-Herald and how to handle them.

It is cute, by the way, how the OWH itself is playing all this. On the one hand, THEY’RE the ones driving all of this and then writing Editorials telling the Mayor how she should do it.

Then on the other hand, they will “report” on it, like they’re just outside observers.

And then add in the Attorney General, who is forced to form an opinion on it all, which could likely drive it to court.

But a few things…

One: Isn’t it interesting that nearly all of the public agencies and entities — such as the Governor’s office, the Mayor’s office, the state agencies — are REQUIRED to make their internal records public.

Well, all public bodies, except one:
The Legislature.

The Legislature is exempt from these type of public disclosure requirements.

And guess who gets to decide whether their records are private or not:
The Legislature.

And since the Courts can’t FORCE them to make their records public, you know who CAN make them?
No one.

Well, in theory there’s that “Nebraska’s Second House” biz, but don’t look for that to happen anytime soon.

But with all the ballyhooing and editorializing by the OWH about text messages and other records, you’d think they’d expend a little energy to get THAT institution down in Lincoln to play by the same rules as everyone else.

And Two:

The Attorney General’s office may (or may not) be correct in the letter of the law requiring Text Messages to be part of public records.

But they’re wrong in principle.

One legal eagle who advises Leavenworth St. on such issues put it:

Text messages should be treated like telephone / oral conversations. There is no formality to them and including them as public records discourages candid dialogue and advice. It suppresses, rather than encourages, connectivity of people on important matters. And it throws cold water on prompt dispatch of matters.

Ask most Millennials — who have grown up with Texting — whether there is a difference between text messages and emails, and you will likely hear that there is a vast difference.

Further, if we’re going to require that all text messages be made public, then why not require all public phone calls be recorded? Why should the exact content of telephone calls be exempted? There is no difference between that and text messages, if we’re talking about public disclosure. And with today’s technology, there is likely not much of a hurdle to make that happen.

If there is a strong case to make telephone calls exempt, then surely there is a strong case to make text messages exempt. The question should be the type of communication, and not how it’s transcribed.

(And another for-instance: There are phones and associated special devices (called TTYs) made for the hearing-impaired where each side types in the messages over a regular phone line, but using a special machine so both sides can type and read. Is THAT a phone call or a text message? Those machines specifically can print out the entire text of the conversation. So is that covered under public records? And if so, why is it different than a regular phone call? Or, if not why is it not a record? Which is it? And if it IS different than a regular phone call, why is the Legislature and Court setting a different standard for the hearing impaired? Hmmmmmmmmmm?)

And maybe, just maybe, this is worth the court fight.


By the way OWH, nice treacly piece about the Death Row prisoner who must suppress his “joy” about the Death Penalty repeal.

That’s a shame, eh?

Of course buried at the end of the story of Marco Torres’ inability to high-five his fellow Death Row inmates is a brief reason for why he’s there:

Torres was convicted of the 2007 shooting deaths of Edward Hall, 60, and Timothy Donohue, 48.

“shooting death”.

The victims were bound and gagged, then shot in the head and chest.

No word on “rejoicing” by the families of the murder victims.


  1. Give me liberty or give me death says:

    Can we make it easier and just go back to good ol’ fashion hanging or firing range? Alot cheaper, and saves alot of time. hell, texas has an express lane for those on death row…why can’t we?

  2. Mortal Sin says:

    The death penalty was repealed because a handful of state senators couldn’t bring themselves to commit a mortal sin. Good luck asking 51% of Nebraska to commit a mortal sin.

  3. The Grundle King says:

    What’s interesting…nay, appalling…is that the subject of the OWH article, Mr. Torres, is on there commenting on the article through Facebook.

    Seriously…when and why did we start giving death row inmates access to Facebook, let alone a computer?! If they’re on death row, or even serving life without parole, they’re not in prison for rehabilitation…they’re in prison to protect society from their sociopathic tendencies.

    So, why is our government giving them access to the website where they’re free to connect with hundreds of millions of people?!

  4. Hesdeadjim says:

    I have a feeling that greater than 60% of Nebraskans would gladly bring the death penalty back.

    Personally, I think the initiative is a stupid waste of resources. It’s a waste of donor money and volunteer time. I hate that we lost the death penalty, I hate how it happened, and I hate that my State Senator *cough* Brett Lindstrom *cough* continues to disappoint every time I turn around. That being said, I’m not willing to volunteer any of my time for a ballot initiative just so we can maybe put one more POS murderer to a peaceful permanent sleep in the next 30 years.

  5. KHDS says:

    Did the OWH print any stories on the multi-year murder scheme allegedly carried out by Garcia in the context of the death penalty repeal?

    There was plenty of print on Nikko.

    Or liberal bias based upon story selection?

    Waiting for OWH puff pieces on transgenderism.

    And the OWH’s victory lap on SSM will be too much.
    LJS can barely contain its excitement.

  6. Bob Loblaw says:

    If the vote by the people on the death penalty passes in 2016 (which I think it will), then what? We have no drugs. no way of carrying out the penalty. What then? We’ll be in the same boat that we have for the last 20 years. A dozen or so people on death row who won’t be executed but will still be costing us more money then a life sentence because they’ll still be filing appeal after appeal and nothing will change. This thing will get dragged through the court system for decades. If you think that a death penalty will be carried out in the next 15 years in Nebraska then I’ve got some ocean front property in Norfolk to sell you.

    This is such a huge waste of time and resources. I’d much rather see people working to elect fiscally conservative legislators and politicians then see everyone waste their time and money working to get another dead end government program put back on the books.

  7. Pete says:

    I agree with Bob. I am very much pro-death penalty, and I wish we could fire up ole sparky for each of the inmates on death row, but that just isn’t going to happen. The ballot initiative will pass with ease but I would be surprised to see someone executed in the next 20 years.

    We’re better off spending our time and money on conservative candidates to unseat the disappointments of this freshman class. Then maybe they reinstate the death penalty via legislation. That would be ideal.

  8. Macdaddy says:

    I think the Ricketts have plenty of money so perhaps we can do both. The first step would be to overrule the liars in the Unicam. Step 2 will be throwing said liars out of the Unicam. Step 3 will be changes to the method and process of the death penalty so we can get going on this. In the meantime, Marco Torres is free to torment his victims’ families through fawning articles in the OWH, emails, letters, and Facebook posts. And he can do it for decades. Maybe he can get a FreeMarco club going. Bob will be willing to sign up for it. I mean, if Nebraska got the death penalty wrong, she got his conviction wrong, too.

  9. Macdaddy says:

    I don’t think the contents of the texts should be made public, but just like phone calls, there should be a record of who texted the Mayor and if she responded. That shouldn’t be hard.

  10. KHDS says:

    Is the perfect the enemy of the good?

    Should we not doing anything because the Left MIGHT stall executions?

    It’s not over until WE say it’s over.

    Who runs this state? Them or us?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Bloodthirsty bunch, and Catholic to boot. Do you live vicariously through the state murdering someone? I’m sure you couch this in a much more virtuous manner, but that is what it is. Why not put your energies into something constructive instead of tilting at windmills like Don Quixote? Get the voters to pass this, and it’s a black mark on the state. First one to reinstate the death penalty by citizen referendum with the odds of actually executing someone before they die in prison close to zero. That’s sure to attract businesses and productive people to Nebraska.

  12. Bob Loblaw says:

    I’ve been as vocal an opponent of the death penalty in here as anyone. But I doubt Goigle or GM aren’t building factories here based on whether or not we have the death penalty. Our outrageous tax structure is what’s keeping business out of this state. That’s where our focus should be.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Young people who work at these businesses do care, so that makes these businesses care. Look at Indiana. Different issue, but an example of the dangers of being a troglodyte state.

  14. KHDS says:

    Look at Indiana? You mean when the nearly exact RFRA law signed by Bill Clinton was stood on its head by the Left?

    And then that tiny pizza place suffered a high-tech lynching because that poor woman expressed her sincerely held religious belief to the craziest hypothetical of all time? (Pizza at a gay wedding in small town Indiana.)


    The really unforgivable and shameful thing was how CAT, Lilly and the NCAA threatened to bolt – within hours! – of RFRA’s signing. Pence should called their bluff. The only good thing from that episode is that Pence is never going to be President.

    News flash to Anonymous: Most of America is not as liberal as you. Consevatives are not troglodytes. We are the majority!

  15. Mortal Sin? says:

    Mortal Sin hasn’t been reading the polling on death penalty. The mortal sin is crossing the voters. Even worse? Lying to them to get elected. THOSE are mortal sins… By the way, the name of the state is Nebraska, not Republic of The Holy Unicameral.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is great, past the cheering on the legislative floor the people of the state will get to speak as it should have been and exactly why they were not given the chance

  17. Sen. Bordello says:

    My favorite senators are freshmen. They’re SO easy when they get drunk on Kool-Aid. Hilkemann, McCollister, and Lindstrom.

  18. Lil Mac says:

    Sweeper, your focus is closing in on “THAT institution down in Lincoln” as Nebraska’s core problem. I urge you to narrow even further upon it. That newspapers are newspapers and people are people isn’t nearly the problem that a Nonpartisan Unicameral is by it being itself. Just as America needed to rid itself of constitutionally endorsed poisonous slavery, Nebraska needs to get rid of its constitutionally endorsed poisonous one legged lawmaking.

    When news folk suggest voters (politically-naïve occasional beauty contest judges) can function like a “second house” to stop unwise and dishonest laws being made, the Press displays its non-elected for-profit fourth estate nature that proves it too can never function as a second house. Neither can a veto. Nor courts, which kill laws for being unconstitutional but not for being stupid or unwanted. Bad laws can only be instantly hammered flat from inside the legislative branch by lawmakers who obviously cannot be the same bunch who dreamt up the bad laws in the first place. Add to that a separate constitutional requirement that senators must refuse to be influenced by principled party platforms and Nebraska lawmaking is made devoid of ethical and lawmaking accountability.

    We all know all this. But do we believe it? Average Nebraskans don’t.

    Nebraskans think the Unicameral is honest and wise because they never hear it yelling while being spanked. The spankers were removed 75 years ago and the ensuring silence is pathological not golden. And yet Nebraskans can be educated to understand this, and in far less time than it took strategic gay advocacy to shift people from skin crawling revulsion to yawning at gay marriage.

    If there is to be a champion of bicameralism, I think it must be Republicans. Democrats, as a minority, scavenge the process and the media is owned by top scavengers. Besides, Republicans are born to kill constitutionally ingrained wrongs. To be sure, making bicameralism the lawmaking system of Nebraska will take much effort, time and money but we won’t have to elect Abe Lincoln and fight a Civil War to do it.

    However, before Nebraska Republicans can become hair-on-fire Abolitionists of Unicameralism, they must first stop secretly loving it.

    Many Nebraska Republicans loudly condemn Unicameralism and then sneak off (metaphorically we hope) to be aroused by nude photos of George Norris. Creepy but true. The sappy kindness in our Nebraskan nature makes us want to believe people are good enough to not need spankers. Yet the fact that Norris himself, and everyone else since, has found it necessary to suggest a variety of things that “function like a second house” rather clearly proves that every Nebraskan deep down knows our state lawmakers need a good thrashing on a daily basis. Nebraska Republicans need to quit loving Norris’s pathological dream it before they can kill the damn thing.

    How else can we explain the lack of any real statewide initiative to abolish unicameralism?

  19. It's 5 O'clock somewhere says:

    Hey Kint!

    gaaaadaaaamn! you must have started early yesterday! must’ve been one hell of a bender!

  20. Anonymous says:

    A post that begins with “Sweeper” is meant to be read by Sweeper.

    You can identify the posts meant for you because they begin with “Asshole…”

  21. Hesdeadjim says:

    I honestly would probably forgive Lindstrom’s transgressions if he hadn’t played the ever virtuous, high and mighty, conservative at all costs candidate when he primaried Lee Terry.

    You can’t stand up and publicly decry Lee Terry for voting to raise the debt ceiling and then vote to raise taxes, override a Republican Governor’s veto, and then vote to repeal the death penalty and override a Republican Governor’s veto again a couple of years later.

  22. It ain't soup says:

    Wrong. Lindstrom can publicly decry anything, then vote hypocritically for whatever, and that can still earn more votes. People like hypocrisy. What pisses you off about Lindstrom is his hypocrisy isn’t to your liking. There are others who love it.

    LM is right about the underlying dysfunction of the lawmaking structure. It is a stagnant cesspool not caused by Lindstrom or Ernie or any one person or party, You can throw the best carrot into it and the result won’t be soup. You can fish out the worst of the turds and it still won’t be soup.

  23. Anonymous says:

    KHDS, you could google things yourself and figure out the gross inaccuracies in your post, but since it appears you’re getting your info from Faux News, I’ll do it for you.

    First, the Indiana law is NOTHING like the law Clinton signed (again, if you’re only watching Faux News, I’d understand why you’d believe that). Indiana’s law is much broader. The federal law’s intent was to protect religious practices (i.e. peyote use by Native Americans). Indiana’s is pretty much a salvo against same-sex marriage codifying acceptable discrimination.

    I agree with you on the pizza place. People’s reactions were over the top and unjustified. But I’m not going to feel too sorry for them as they made $840,000 through online funding.

    And I hate to burst your bubble on the liberal/conservative numbers. Gallup polling shows that those who identify as social conservatives is the same as social liberals: 31%. The times are changing, but you don’t seem to notice.

    After reading your post, I doubt you were a Prep graduate, or you didn’t learn much there.

  24. Anon O Mous says:

    So, the GOP plan to reduce the size of gubmint is to increase the size of gubmint by creating another gubmint institution? Ok. Got it.

  25. The government is trustworthy says:

    That’s why we should trust them to convict and kill. If they can get potholes and healthcare perfect, why not with sentencing and executions?

  26. Anonymous says:

    If your want representatives that are only brainless sheep, elect a sheep. Maybe that is why the majority of citizens don’t vote.

  27. New TV series: "Texts from Jean" says:

    This would be so incredible: Jean Stothert followed around by camera, with Frank Underwood musings to the audience. She turns to the camera, tells you what she thinks, as her texts scroll across the bottom. Then at night she could do story time with her feet up, in her robe, and like a fire side chat, we could watch her chew people out on her blackberry, talk to us about what disloyal bums they are, all while she puts down a couple of bottles of wine. She’ll make more money than Judge Judy!

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