The 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 is exempt from these type of public disclosure requirements.
And guess who gets to decide whether their records are private or not:
And since the Courts can’t FORCE them to make their records public, you know who CAN make them?
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.
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.
The victims were bound and gagged, then shot in the head and chest.
No word on “rejoicing” by the families of the murder victims.