Rumor mill in Lincoln

First, a little Monday Separated at Birth for ya.

Saw this dude’s mug on a sign with chef Mario Batali.  I don’t usually like to compare every bald guy — Michael Stipe, the guy from Midnight Oil, anyone who has ever played Lex Luthor — to the Governor, but this one caught my attention. So…

Republican gubernatorial candidate Pete Ricketts, right, takes a question at a news conference in Lincoln, Neb., Monday, June 2, 2014. Ricketts announced that Current Neb. Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann, left, will be his running mate in the upcoming elections. Ricketts will face Democrat Chuck Hassebrook in November. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Governor Pete Ricketts and celebrity chef/restauranteur, Joe Bastianich.


Shake Up at the McMansion?

Speaking of the Gov, we have a rumor or two about that office.

A few weeks back the latest was that his out-of-office, kitchen cabinet adviser, Jessica Flanagain (fka Jessica Moenning) was headed another direction — either on her own volition or being pushed along.

That never seemed to happen.

But now there are rumblings that Jessica may come on board with the Gov’s office in an official capacity.

There is a new job opening listed on the State Jobs website, that would indicate there will be folks moving around in the top offices. This could then give a little more leeway to bring Flanagain in with a little less pain (and possibly free up some cash to do so).

Flanagain could then move in at a press or policy position or somesuch — and then end the quasi-offical nature of her relationship with the Governor.

Of course she would have to drop her private political clients, and one wonders if her pay would need to be “supplemented” from another source as well.

Again, this is ALL rumor-mill stuff, but that scuttlebutt is this could all likely happen after the 1st of the new year.

Hopefully this will allow the Governor’s office to end some of the ham-fisted actions of the office when it comes to announcements, firings and hirings. But then again, once a “new” person comes in, there is likely to be a fair bit of uncomfortableness by the others who will find their established gigs shaken up just a bit.

What’s the analogy?

Too many chefs?
Too many chiefs and not enough indians?
There can be only One (for you Highlander fans)?

Pick your favorite.
Or pick your poison.

**UPDATE at 2:30pm**

And the rumor is confirmed by the Governor’s office:

LINCOLN – Today Governor Ricketts announced Jessica Flanagain, who has served him as a private advisor, is joining his office as Special Advisor to the Governor for External Affairs. Flanagain’s focus will include communications and strategic planning as well as coalition building.

“During the transition and over the last year, Jessica has managed my external advisory committees on agriculture, manufacturing, corrections, and health and human services, and I am excited to bring her into the office in an official capacity,” said Governor Ricketts. “I have known Jessica and worked with her in a variety of capacities over the last ten years. She brings a skill set and experience to the Governor’s office that complements my core team of advisors.”

For the last 10 years Flanagain has owned a consulting business with a diverse portfolio of corporate, non-profit, and political clients helping them identify goals and develop strategies to achieve communications and policy objectives.

Flanagain will start on December 28, 2015 and her salary will be $130,000.


Oh Don…

Don Walton is bending over backwards to try to get Hillary the 2nd District’s Electoral vote.

Yes, Obama got in when he was first elected.
And Brad Ashford squeaked in last time too.

But while Ashford will be a rough stump to root out, don’t count on Hillary coming close in the Electoral Count.

Heck, Obama couldn’t even repeat in that one.

But that won’t stop Don from dreaming of a day when Bob Kerrey and Ben Nelson and Jim Exon ran amok in the Big Red state.

Which is now very big red.


2015 L.St. PotY

This will be a shortened week, but start thinking about who should be the 2015 Leavenworth St. Politician of the Year!

Could be a battle.

And remember to tell that Uncle who’s always down your neck at the Christmas dinner about Leavenworth St.

Sure you’ll have to explain the “information super highway” first. Then what a “browser” is. And how you can just type the address in. But feel good knowing that whether he types “” or ““, it all goes to the same place.

And thanks for reading!


  1. Sparkles says:

    Speaking of failed Governorships…

    A must read article appeared in the Dec 18 Wichita Eagle titled “Debt limits suspended to pay for tax cuts”.
    An article that brings to light some truly remarkable skullduggery by Gov Brownback and his allies in the KS Republican legislature.

    Buried deep in last spring’s 700 page appropriation bill are 6 lines giving the KS DOT unchecked and unlimited authority to issue debt. Authority the DOT used in December when (secretly) issuing the largest single highway bond in KS history, $400 million.
    $400 million -not- destined for infrastructure, but instead absconded by Brownback to help fill a $700 million budget hole resulting from the failed Brownback/ALEC supply-side inspired tax cut “experiment”.

    ​The very same experiment Gov Heineman and his trusty henchman Beau ‘Igor’ (pronounced “eye-gor”) McCoy attempted in 2013.
    The very same experiment Gov Ricketts and his ALEC allies have promised to champion in Nebraska in 2016.

    It is impossible for a sane person, capable of rational thought to read this article and not recognize that our Governor’s thoroughly debunked ideology is a threat to the well being of our state.

  2. Ed Stevens says:

    I dunno about Joe B, but his mama, Lydia, is one mean spaghetti-bender. IMO, the best cooking show on TV … called “Lydia’s Kitchen”, or something like that as I recall. And she has hair.

    BTW, Merry Christmas, Sweeper … and thanks for Leavenworth Street.

    Ed S

  3. Bluejay says:

    2015 Politician of the Year?

    Jane Kleeb.

    No KXL.

    She cleaned Governor Dave’s and TransCanada’s click. Total beat down.

    While she was able to stall it she provided cover for Obama (“Nebraska has problems.”) and the Clintons were able to collect big money from BOTH sides.

    And who benefited?

    Our dear friends in OPEC.
    And some say OPEC rewards its friends very well.

    • Sparkles says:

      Re: “Our dear friends in OPEC”.

      One would imagine it impossible to refute that OPEC, in fact, longs for the halcyon days of Republican control of the White House, Senate and House.

      The heady days when two oil men, GW Bush and Darth Cheney, colluded in secret meetings with Oil Industry execs on formulation of a nation energy policy that would subsequently lead to the price for a barrel of oil reaching $145, the highest in history.

      2 hours ago, Reuters –
      “Oil prices hit eleven-year low as global supply balloons..
      ..crude futures fell 53 cents at $34.20 by 11:14 a.m. EST (1614 GMT) after bouncing off an intraday low of $33.98.”

      At our current $34 a barrel vs. the $145 of the Bush/Cheney days, there’s little doubt the rewards gushing from OPEC accounts were much, much more lucrative when the GOP was in charge.

      • Bluejay says:


        I was being sarcastic re OPEC. OPEC is no friend of the United States. We can be free of those people with North American energy independence at WTI $50-60 bbl. That works out to gas at $3. Can you live with that?

        Let them cugo back to cutting each other’s heads off and we can leave them alone.

        Obama is a tool for OPEC and Iran. And Kleeb helped him. Hopefully she got her oil money unless she is a useful idiots.

        You Dems and Greens never get it. America first. Green energy and ACW is a scam and a hoax.

    • repenting lawyer says:

      Bluejay, At current prices additional development of Alberta tar sands is doubtful, and Province is imposing additional environmental protection. TransCan maybe just as glad to hold off on finishing KXL. Clock cleaning is a Prepism introduced by the late Bill Sullivan SJ in early 50s others my think click as good

  4. Anon says:

    This is the title of the position that Sweeper linked to in his above story (I copied and pasted):
    Business Development Consultant – Governor’s Central Nebraska Office and West Central Nebraska Field.

  5. @ 3:14p says:

    I know. I saw that position. It is a clericial hourly wage position. Not an inner circle type of position. That is not it. I think he was being sarcastic. Since then Gov office confirmed her new title “Special Advisor….” That position has never been posted on the state job site. Again, no public announcement for other people to apply?

    • Anon 3:14 says:

      It’s not a clerical hourly wage position. Most positions with the state are hourly. Including professional positions such as managers, public information officers, engineers, architects etc.

      Not sure why the actual position was not posted…good observation

  6. Anonymous says:

    It looks like her responsibilities will be the same as she had with her “private” Governor advisor gig. Is the reason that she will be a state employee because of the backlash of her “private” pay arrangement? Or is it because Matt Miltenberger Chief of Staff is underperforming? Is he being moved to another position?

  7. Anonymous says:

    I nominate Rod Edwards for Politico of the Year. The near win with Stebbing and his work on the death penalty petition is noteworthy.

  8. Elton John's "The Bitch is Back" says:

    Straight from OWH
    “Ricketts said Monday the change was not inspired by those concerns but out of a need to improve strategic communications. He said in that role, Flanagain will work directly with agency heads so their communication is “jibing” with the Governor’s Office and is more proactive.“Messaging” and “coalition building” are in her job description, said Ricketts, who added that the new role will require Flanagain to be at the State Capitol.”

    Hear that Department heads Jessica is going to set you straight

  9. Nostradamus says:

    Jessica whatever her last name is now should be Politician of the Year. She made 270k last year working both sides and she now gets a job for 130k from the taxpayers for work she was already doing. I thinks she beats Jane Kleeb in shaking down sugar daddys.

  10. Sparkles says:

    If you need a little shot of old fashioned national pride this holiday season, take the opportunity to google/youtube; “ORBCOMM-2 Full Launch Webcast”
    Go the 32 minute mark. Truly stirring moment.

    An event made possible only through a visionary public-private partnership.

    A partnership launched in the fall of 2014, with these words:
    “Today’s announcement sets the stage for what promises to be the most ambitious and exciting chapter in the history of NASA and human spaceflight,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

    “From day one, the Obama administration has made it very clear that the greatest nation on Earth should not be dependent on any other nation to get into space. … Today we’re one step closer to launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on American spacecraft and ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia by 2017.”

    • bynd says:

      But let’s get rid of capitalism and the rich. Companies such as Orbital Sciences, who set the ground work for such success’ of today, have been around long before the government had to rely on them to make up the funding gap when government cut back NASA to the bone. Back when only the rich could afford such indugences. Nice to see Obama and his drones embrace American Exceptionalism. I guess we only need partners when waging war. Obama is no JFK.

      • repenting lawyer says:

        Bynd, We had capitalism and the rich under Ike, but in those days the tax rates were much higher and we built the Interstate. To want the rich to pay their share of taxes is hardly a threat to our economic system. The threat is the increase in inequality and the disappearance of the middle class. Obama has never spoken as harshly against business as JFK did at the time of the electric equipment price fixing scandal, and Jack certainly equals Bill Clinton in the marital infidelity game. Interestingly because of higher corporate taxes, business reinvested at a much higher rate than now. Real capitalism and financial capitalism maybe very different things.

    • Mark Andrews says:

      Public funds certainly helped Elon Musk & SpaceX with yesterday’s successful landing of a 1st stage, Falcon 9 booster. But public supported came late.

      Musk risked his fortune and his company, as did his stockholders and employees fortune (and most employees are also stockholders) perfecting SpaceX’s fundamental & proprietary technology.

      I have followed SpaceX and the Falcon 1/9/9 Heavy development program since their inception. Capitalism worked here. Private individuals took enormous risks to demonstrate they were worthy of a modest public investment. That is as it should be. The result was & is industrial advancement that no government mandate could achieve.

      • repenting lawyer says:

        Mark Andrews, The myth that government does not achieve much is negated by actual American economic history. The gov was both a direct developer, interstates, river navigation, NIH grants, DOD research, computer and internet space program spinoffs and the like. Expenditures on and grants to higher education and particularly the land grant universities. Much of that contribution has diminished over the last 30 years and replacements like pushing higher education to finance research through patent exploitation have not proved to be an adequate substitute.
        The dream world of a capitalism that never existed has proved to be a very bad dream when pseudo conservatives decided to ignore history and create that world.

      • Sparkles says:

        You are correct that it is the genius and determination of Musk that made this milestone possible.
        But it would be an injustice to downplay the role the Obama administration and the wise investment of taxpayer dollars in this achievement.

        In three rounds of funding (2011, 2012 and 2014), SpaceX received approx. $3.5 Billion in federal dollars.
        Every round of funding, every dollar, wrested by force in a pitched battle with an anti-science, instransigent GOP.

        Both the Obama administration and Elon Musk battled continuous Republican obstruction.

        From the program’s inception, April, 2010 –
        “U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, (R-Tuscaloosa AL) called Obama’s plan “a faith-based initiative” and “a welfare program for the commercial space industry … where the taxpayer subsidizes billionaires to build rockets that NASA hopes will one day allow millionaires, and our own astronauts, to travel in space..
        ..Musk said Friday night that Shelby has “launched personal attacks on me” and won’t discuss the issue.”

        To the final tranche of funding, Febr 2014 –
        “GOP Congressman Wants To Block Elon Musk From Competing In Space”
        As late as 2014, John Culbertson (R-TX) sought to eliminate Musk and SpaceX entirely from federal support.

      • Mark Andrews says:

        Musk did what NASA might have done, but could not do. Musk did not have to deal with the machinations of the Senate, who gave us the SLS. The shuttle derived “Space Launch System” is often called the “Senate Launch System,” a precisely designed to move Federal gravy to every Congressional district in the Union. Is the SLS flying yet? No.

        Tinkering by Congress and the Bush & Obama Administrations have resulted in a late, underfunded project. It doesn’t fly and hopefully it won’t kill anybody. Small wonder that NASA employees & contractors wore t-shirts that said “WWED” – “What Would Elon Do?” The joke was that Elon just had to do the opposite of what NASA was ordered to do to be successful.

        Sorry to RL and Sparkles. I have no narrative beyond what we can all see SpaceX doing & achieving.

      • repenting lawyer says:

        Mark Andrews, History of space technology did not begin in 2014, most of development was by DOD and NASA. Falcon had to go up before it could go down. Business has its own follies as agency theory demonstrates, any decent managerial economic text will give you a good collection.

      • Sparkles says:


        You state: “Musk did not have to deal with the machinations of the Senate, who gave us the SLS.”

        To the contrary, a recent report from the Sunlight Foundation (track lobbying/DC money)
        “SpaceX’s campaign to win political support has been systematic and sophisticated”, and that “unlike most tech-startups, SpaceX has maintained a significant lobbying presence in Washington almost since day 1..
        ..Additionally, SpaceX hired former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott to represent the company, via the Washington-based lobbying group Patton Boggs LLP. Alongside Patton Boggs LLP, SpaceX uses several other outside lobbying firms, who work alongside SpaceX’s own lobbyists.”.

        Musk has testified on multiple occasions before congressional panels.

  11. Mark Andrews says:

    I don’t know what Pete Ricketts future holds. I know what it doesn’t hold:

    – no re-election as governor.

    – no election as U.S. senator from Nebraska.

    – and absolutely no chance of being president or vice-president of the United States.

    He would make a good general manager of a car dealership, and I fully support Ricketts in that august role, perfectly suited to his leadership & managerial talents.

  12. bynd says:

    RL: What is a fair share for the rich to pay and who determines it?

    The comparison between JFK and BO. JFK said we go to the moon in ten years and made it happen. Despite Sparkles spin, Obama had little to nothing to with the Falcon. Feds came on board after it was a moot point. No other comparison between the two was inferred or intended.

    Sparkles: So they hired lobbyists, what does that mean? You made no connection because there was none. Just like all your gibberish about who tried to kill the program. The program could not be killed, it was a private venture. Any other crap to throw on the wall and see what sticks?

    Oh yeah, how do you define a “failed governorship”. Try Blagojevich from Illinois. And when you find a perfect governor, make sure you take him down from the cross.

  13. repenting lawyer says:

    Bynd, Fair share is of course a contested issue but you apparently approve of existing rates, why? As to JFK vs Obama fed gov long ago turned non military space program into an orphan. Ashamed to admit I lost interest, too old and fat to go to the stars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.