The Wheels Down Politics Show – Jim Vokal on the Con Agra move

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Vokal - formalJerry Kratochvil interviews Jim Vokal of the Platte Institute on the announcement of Con Agra moving their headquarters out of Omaha.

Jim joins Jerry on a brand new LIVE podcast, via the Periscope app, which includes listener feedback and questions during the show.

Jim discusses his press release as CEO of the Platte Institute urging Nebraska lawmakers to reform the state tax code so more companies will be attracted to Omaha and fewer will want to leave.

They also discuss some of the dynamics of the move — Omaha vs Chicago, the influence Governor Ricketts or Mayor Stothert could have or did have on Con Agra, as well as the political climate surrounding the decision.

They conclude with a few questions from the live podcast viewers as well, on this first truly interactive podcast.


Hear the podcast in its live form (probably not linked forever) via Periscope, which includes the visual viewer/listener feedback.

Also find the Periscope app for Apple and Android at

Jim Vokal on Twitter: @Jim_Vokal, @PlatteInstitute


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  1. Live free or dye colorfully says:

    Con Agra is moving. Very nice. Now, on to the news.

    An Oregon man shoots people at a community college. Apparently none shot back. They were as unarmed as cattle. — Three telling illogicalities happened immediately.

    Firstly, Obama wants more law abiding Americans unable to defend themselves against law-breakers who can get any illegal gun they want across Obama’s purposefully non-existent national borders.

    Secondly, the college’s fmr pres. said colleges need to be “better prepared to handle” such events; as if like needing tornado shelters, colleges need to be redesigned to process human slaughter.

    Thirdly, the community and media demand a motive, not out of curiosity but needing an excuse to exonerate the crime. — Neighbors say the guy “seemed really unfriendly” and “uncommunicative”. His sister says “All he ever did was put everyone before himself, he wanted everyone to be happy.”

    Happy and unfriendly? He puts everyone ahead of himself and kills people. — Motive is irrelevant.

    This pathology stems from US Justice which is blind to the crime when it cares about why. Motive is a window into a man’s soul and there are no such windows. But political correctness says there is. In military law, one is found guilty or innocent by the act and motive is considered later in sentencing. US civil law’s “not-guilty-by-reason-of (fill in the excuse)” is a source of much of our PC mass illogic.

    Too many think we can make people better. But even Christians gave up on suicidally volunteering to be Nero’s human torches and for good reason: It doesn’t stop the endless Nero’s among us.

    Cowboy, if you aren’t packing iron, you are just one more cow. For that iron on every lawman’s hip is to protect him. His one and only weapon to “protect” you is a piece of chalk.

  2. TexasAnnie says:

    Yes, Live Free. We must sort out our gun rights responsibly.

    Now on to the real news in Omaha, today:
    I have listened to what Vokal had to say. He believes tax incentives are needed because income tax in Nebraska is higher than in surrounding states, and that unless the legislature grants income tax relief others may leave. Although Vokal acknowledges that the people of Nebraska gave up an opportunity for their own tax relief in order to grant tax relief to ConAgra, and that ConAgra will receive a tax relief package in Chicago, Vokal cites only ‘education tied to workforce needs’ and ‘more tax relief’ as remedies.

    I agree with Vokal to this point: Y’all do need income tax relief! However you don’t need more tax incentives. You need a flat tax, no exceptions and no excuses. And you need a fixed sales tax, no exemptions. And you need to reclaim your property tax base from ag adventures and TIF financiers.

    By the way, Vokal said ConAgra still holds the lease on it’s Omaha headquarters. And I know that development took TIF property tax abatement for what, twenty years??? Has the property tax abatement run out now?

  3. TexasAnnie says:

    Street Sweeper said that when corporate reshuffling occurs, it is “brutal on families.”

    Street Sweeper, my family was moved from Texas literally to begin paying state income tax to Nebraska. (That was the plan as one reads the LB775 transcripts.) Shortly thereafter under Ben Nelson, Nebraskans undertook special education and DD services reform. And then years later, Nebraskans made outlaws of my homosexual loved ones. Both of these Nebraska decisions had deeply profound and evidently everlasting negative impressions on me.

    And yet, I was now required to pay state income taxes in support of these aberrations of justice! I don’t know what brutality you suffered as a result of corporate reshuffling, but I’ve probably got you topped. And I think it will take me at least as long as I lived there, paying my unjust income tax, for me to quit bitching about it!!!

    • Annie,

      Yes, yes yes we’ve heard your “bitching” about your situation — nearly every day.
      You’re welcome for having a place to vent.

      So I guess I’m not surprised at your callous disregard for people who just lost their job with no other in sight. I’ve been through it. It sucks. And I can guarantee that it sucks for every family that is going through it now.

      Oh, but I forgot that its all about you.
      And thanks for reading.

  4. Sparkles says:

    Live free,

    Just a snippet of what you’ve stated:
    “Firstly, Obama wants more law abiding Americans unable to defend themselves against law-breakers who can get any illegal gun they want across Obama’s purposefully non-existent national borders.”

    Two questions:
    1) Why does Obama want law abiding Americans unable to defend themselves?

    2) What is the purpose of Obama’s non-existent borders?

    It’s Friday.
    An enjoyable distraction would be a brief peek into anti-Obama dementia.

  5. The Grundle King says:

    TA crows, “Street Sweeper, my family was moved from Texas literally to begin paying state income tax to Nebraska.”

    Once again, I implore you to answer…were you moved forcefully (i.e. kidnapping), or voluntarily? You keep creating this victimization fantasy in which, by some manner you’ve not fully explained, you were temporarily deprived of your natural right of self-determination, and that you were ‘moved’ here against your will…and that everything that happened to you as a result of a choice that apparently was not your own, is the fault of every single Nebraskan.

    Because it certainly can’t be your fault, because you and your family didn’t choose to move here to follow a job.

    Oh no.

  6. The Grundle King says:

    Sparkles, your questions are far too easy to answer.

    1. Obama wants people unable to defend themselves for two reasons. Reason #1…because it helps feed the erroneous notion that the government can, and will, protect you. Folks like you and Obama WANT people to depend on the government for as much as possible, because the more that people depend on the government, the more powerful the government can become. Reason #2…because those who cannot defend themselves are much less likely to resist unwelcome change. (Aside…while I’m sure it will do absolutely no good to say this, I’m not advocating armed resistance against the government.)

    2. The purpose of Obama’s non-existent borders is to help swell the Democrat masses. Perhaps they’ll be remain unable to vote legally, but that doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to the Democrat cause with both financial and human resources. If you think I’m being dishonest, just look at the little political stunt that was pulled during the Pope’s visit. I’m still laughing at the idea that the 5 year old girl wrote that letter herself.

    This isn’t about opposition to Obama…a concept you continually fail to grasp…but opposition to ideas espoused by everyone left of center (including folks like you, Dianne Feinstein, Michael Bloomberg, and yes, even Obama). Of course, you would quickly boil it down to race and quickly conclude that ALL opposition to Obama’s executive and legislative priorities is based upon the concentration of melanin in Obama’s skin…but let me assure you that I, and most others like me, would be equally opposed to his ideologically-driven agenda were he a fair-haired and fair-complected individual of European descent (think Jimmy Carter).

  7. Sparkles says:


    Comically delusional.

    Delusions concocted, promulgated in continually reinforced by a fear-for-profit right wing entertainment complex.

  8. Bob Loblaw says:

    I feel for you Annie. I remember well the trail of tears that Con Agra had to Omaha in the mid to late 80’s. I remember reading the stories of accountants rounded up at their desks being loaded into railcars, forced to work 40 hour weeks with only a nice salary with full benefits and nothing else. Who can forget watching the nightly news and seeing the middle managers being forced by gunpoint to move to Omaha? The horrible part was that once they were here they were never able to leave. Also some of them worked until they were well into their sixties, only to have Con Agra cast them out with nothing more than full retirement benefits. It surely was one of the darkest times in Nebraska history.

  9. The Grundle King says:

    @ Sparkles,

    I find your delusions about the “fear-for-profit right wing entertainment complex” comical as well…seeing as the vast majority of media outlets, news folk, and Hollywood types support Democrats.

    If indeed I am delusional, at least mine have some basis in reality.

  10. Ed Stevens says:

    No … what’s comical is cowardly anony-mouses and equally cowardly pseudony-mouses bashing each other with what they imagine are crushing witticisms, and “facts” with little to no basis in reality. If you folks ever manage to find the stones to sign your real names to the detritus you smear around here, then I will perhaps begin to take the “Comments” section of this blog seriously. I recommend “Cojones’R’Us”.

  11. Anonymous says:

    TA: Once more, with feeling. You were not forced to move to Nebraska. Your husband had the job with the big corporate meanie. Your husband’s salary paid the taxes you whine about. You were (and still are?) a full-time caregiver for your daughter. You (and your husband?) have since retired to Texas. Again, it sounds like despite your husband’s indentured-servantism to the State of Nebraska, you both made out pretty well financially if you are retired at your age (not 70’s-80s’) on an acreage in Texas. Thank you.

  12. Sparkles says:


    I’d like to humbly suggest a couple reads for ya –

    A recent (July 2015) research paper published by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, authored by Jackie Calmes, examining the increasing influence of conservative media on the Republican party’s agenda.
    Simply google: “They Don’t Give a Damn about Governing”

    And a slightly older article than stands well the test of time, from former GW Bush speechwriter and long time conservative author who first penned the words, “right wing entertainment complex” – David Frum’s “When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?”

    Or how about another conservative author, Andrew Sullivan – “Why Am I Moving left?”

    The derangement syndrome of the right has been remarkably well documented.
    You’ve simply allowed yourself to be the victim of epistemic closure.

  13. Ricky says:

    From what it looks like to me is the only people that care about Con Agra leaving Omaha are the chamber of commerce and the big wigs there who are forced to move.
    Most people I hear from say don’t let the door hit you on your asses on your way out of town.
    I doubt this headquarters move will be more than a blip on Omaha’s radar.
    And there is a bright side: this totally embarrasses Mr Ricketts and Jean Stothert. Maybe now people will see just how unprofessional and inept these two Republicans are.
    But if somebody wants to say those two are NOT inept and lousy at their jobs, I will sit here at my computer and wait till somebody types something that explains just ONE thing either of these people have accomplished that help Nebraska.

    RIcky From Omaha

  14. What's wrong with you... says:


    There are regular families who depended on a Conagra paycheck, that are trying to figure out what to do after this layoff. You are a complete ass. You only care about how the news helps you advance your political rants.

    A few that come to mind:

    Ricketts and team successfully mobilized the Nebraska’s 2nd House in the Death Penalty drive, giving the regular citizen the ability to stand against the Legislatures overreach we saw last session.

    Jean Stothert has got the Omaha Budget under control, generating a surplus over the past few years. Putting us in a position to be more prudent about where the money is spent.

  15. TexasAnnie says:

    Street Sweeper:
    “Callous disregard?” On the contrary, I care deeply about those suffering job loss. And it is precisely my concern for their economic well-being that prompts me relay my experience there. And besides, maybe it’s the RIGHT time for them to depart Nebraska…

    We decided to leave before retirement age, Anonymous @ 1:19. We will be retirement age this year. We simply couldn’t afford the taxes there, and given the sparsity of DD services and fear that when our lives ended there our daughter would be abused and neglected at BSDC or some group home.

    And Grundle, I have answered your query, many, many times. You just don’t like the response. But here it is again for the uninformed: LB775 was a bargain struck whereby big business was able to transfer it’s tax liability to individual taxpayers. This was done by a “promise” of “new jobs.”
    (My family had one of those “new jobs” which was really a job in a new place, but with an added $10K state income tax burden.) It went down like this: You move from Houston to Omaha, or, you have no job! We chose the former. If we had chosen the later, would you express any sympathy?

    Y’all really should read the transcripts of ALL your economic development tax subsidies. You might learn as much as I have about this rampant injustice. The time is ripe to demand tax justice in Nebraska!!!

  16. Ricky says:

    Wrong at 2:41; Ricketts was a fool to spend a fortune bringing trying to bring back the death penalty. Which will fail by the way. The Unicam had that right.
    And Omaha’s Mayor has not done magic with the city budget; she just wisely kept the restaurant tax. However, she did lose Con Agra, she did botch the Crossroads Mall plans, she did lose the golf tournament at Champions Club, she did preside over the Wendy’s shootings, she did preside over the city’s falling credit rating, she did run afoul of public records laws, she did pay McQueen about 500,000 dollars for doing a terrible job negotiating union contracts. And I could go on.
    Also I did not say I was happy about layoffs: I said nobody cares about losing the headquarters of Con Agra; except the people that gave us “We Don’t Coast” (God how stupid is that), and a few other people.

    PS Annie we know you are from Texas you don’t have to type “You’all. That’s not cute that’s stupid.

  17. bynd says:

    Ricky: it was Ricketts money to spend and it is only a fortune to the poor and illiterate like you. However, had you the ca hones to make as much as he did, or your family weren’t such losers, then maybe you could have financed the opposition. Instead, you took the easy life as federal employee.

    May we remind you that you predicted the petition drive would fail and then they would not get enough signatures to put the law on hold. Keep predicting, you are helping them succeed.

    Nobody lost Con Agra but Con Agra. But remember, it is your ilk, the Democrats, that took the city to the brink of bankruptcy. That would be Fahey. However, it would be accurate to say that it was you and your unions that pushed the USPS into the bankrupt situation it is in. Way to go Ricky. You couldn’t even excel in a unionized public job and believe you have the knowledge to intelligently comment on the private sector. Not that’s a hoot!!!! You are if nothing else, entertaining in a Shemp kind of way.

    And yes you could go on lying and fabricating. But the truth is, you are a little man from an inconsequential party that has about as much impact as a pimple on an elephant’s ass. But that is alright, keep throwing your lies against the wall and see what sticks. Because for entertainment value, no one on this or watchdog can beat your comedic performances.

    Boo hoo icky Ricky. Ba de ba de ba de, that’s all folks!!!

    You don’t even care about golf. But that was loss on Suttle’s watch.

  18. Ricky says:

    Well Bluejay she was the Mayor when they invited the unlucky COPS guy to go on a ride along.
    What is the explanation on that Wendy’s shooting anyway? How did back up with the COPS guy arrive in 15 seconds like the Police Chief said? Did the COPS guy really have a bullet proof vest on considering it was a hot August night? Why would the bad guy shoot a fake gun at cops with real guns?
    Why doesn’t the Mayor and Police Chief release the audio and video from this tragic event?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Legalize Marijuana!!!

    Look at how booming their economy is and look at all the tax revenue they are bring in.

    Legalization is the only way we can lower taxes and repopulate our state.

    Until then taxes keep climbing and our youth keep moving away.

  20. Outsider says:

    Mr. Vokal has fine and dandy ideas that cannot be enacted in Nebraska due to the sheer cost of trying to lower income tax rates across the board. He does not address whether spending cuts, the reserve fund, or increases to sales taxes will pay for this. Sure, I would love to see lower rates too, but the costs are too high. Governor Heineman found that incremental relief could be affordable in bracket relief and small reductions in the rate. Mr. Vokal, at last year’s roll-out of “Strong Roots Nebraska,” struggled to explain how tax brackets worked though. More affordable changes for larger corporations would be to eliminate the corporation income tax along with tax incentives, but the Chamber of Commerce (State and Omaha) don’t like that because they do not then have a “deal” to sell companies coming to Nebraska. Everyone likes to feel “special” including corporate CEOs.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Outsider is clearly an Insider at state government and the explanation provided is too good for us to stop now. Has anyone put forward an idea to eliminate the corporate income together with tax incentives, or are you speculating here? And isn’t it true that if all forms of sales tax abatement in Nebraska were retracted, both the individual and corporate income taxes could be eliminated altogether? Heineman’s incremental income tax relief was bungled because he also transferred state revenue to (local) property tax relief. WTF?

  22. Outsider says:

    Maybe so anon @ 6:27 but the state forms call it the Nebraska Corporation Income Tax Return if you still want to quibble about it and am curious if you have ever had to file one of these returns?

  23. Anonymous says:

    TA: You have stated here before in a previous year that you and your husband “retired” to an acreage in Texas. The reason it stood out for me is that you’re not that old and you must have made out well financially to be able to “retire” before the rest of us poor working saps who will probably be doing this into our 80’s.

  24. bynd says:


    To answer your questions.

    Whether she was mayor or the man in the moon, neither is responsible for Cops coming here. They asked too.

    He got shot by a ricocheting bullet. Go read here.

    Because they knew where the Cops guys were and were within 15 seconds of being there.

    Many law enforcement wear vest 24/7. He having been in such an environment, wisely wore one also. How stupid is that question? What would you have said had he not been wearing a vest?

    Anyone stupid enough to rob some place with a toy gun is more than stupid enough to try and use it as a real one. In case you have never paid attention, toy guns can be made to sound like real ones. Watch TV some day. It happens all the time.

    Why don’t you write letter and ask them?

    That was easy. A total waste of time to answer such ignorant question that a 5th grader could have answered. But Icky Ricky has demonstrated amply that he is not smarter than a fifth grader.

    Icky Ricky, since you have all the answers, what would you have done to keep Con Agra in Omaha?

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