Snow Flakes

Mello snow-clearing plan
Yes, Dodge Street was clogged yesterday.

Guess what readers? When snow falls during rush hour, plows can’t go any faster than the traffic that’s ahead of them. You know that snow that your wiper blades just knocked off the windshield of your Prius in the bumper to bumper traffic. Yeah, the plows can’t get to that just now.

As one plow driver put it:

I woke up to plow for the city at 3:30. So start plowing at 5:00 there was only 1/4 inch of snow. What were we supposed to plow? People give it a break. Have you ever tried to plow in rush hour? That’s when the snow started. They got us out there, job done. It’s winter driving deal with it.

Whoa, whoa, whoa Plow Driver who thinks he knows so much!
Didn’t you read Mayoral candidate Heath Mello’s PLAN for plowing streets during a rush hour storm???

Mello asserted that Stothert left the city without a “blueprint” for snow removal. When informed of the city’s lengthy snow plan, Mello questioned its rush-hour provisions…
He didn’t offer specific changes to the snow plan…
“That’s a pretty tall order.”
“When I get into City Hall, we’re going to do things differently.”

You hear that people? Differently!
He couldn’t BE more specific!
When the snow zigs, he’ll zag!
Got that!
Got thattttt???!

Then again, this IS the guy who made fun of Omaha Public Works on KFAB for “utilizing brine and salt any chance they get to make it LOOK like they’re doing something.

Classy guy.

*****

So now you’re telling me that EVEN if you get a bunch of your best buds to make signs…signs on sticks, mind you. And you call Deb Fischer repeatedly and read the script that was emailed to you. She STILL won’t vote the way that you bullyingly demand?

What sort of a Republic are we running here?

(Oh, and the protest against the next Trump nominee starts tomorrow, so here’s how you can blockade the Senate phone lines!)

This one was forwarded, and worth reprinting:

What did you learn today?
1. Only those who “support” public schools have the capability of understanding our education system.
2. Unless you have children in the public education system you just don’t understand. (Nevermind if you are a product of public education.)
3. Only public school teachers are allowed to determine someone’s qualifications for positions.
4. One person is able to destroy education in America as we know it.
5. Without public schools America dies.
6. “Yes there’s problems. But only those of us on the inside are able to make it work by continuing what we’ve been doing.”
7. School Choice is like ISIS.
8. Betsy DeVos is only qualified to be a janitor.
9. Somehow the quality of life of teachers became less than an abandoned three year old in a sewer in rural India in an instant.
10. I came up with a great list of people who I never want teaching my children how to tie their shoes let alone reading, writing, and math.

*****

Is it too early to start talking about the 2018 Congressional Mid-Term elections?
No it is not!

The CV on the Dems side is that the GOP will get crushed during the midterms. And if we learned anything from last year, it’s that Freshmen are vulnerable. (Well, in theory, anyway.)

So who might challenge current Rep. Don Bacon?

Well, you may have noticed that Brad Ashford has burrowed back out of his hole. He is part of the Midtown 2050 group. And he is still Tweeting away, sending out a flurry of tweets and re-tweets over the past few days.

But hey, maybe he’s just re-discovered the TV-typewriter. Maybe he’s not really interested in running another campaign.

Either way, a few other names?
Well, there’s Heath Mello.
He’ll likely be looking for a job come May.

And frankly during the Mayoral campaign Mello’s main issues have been ObamaCare, immigration and opposing President Trump. The guy would clearly rather be working in Washington than in Omaha.

But would he be game for starting another race so soon afterwards?

Another name that has been out there for a while: Howard Buffett, Jr., Warren’s grandson.

He would be more worth mentioning, except he may have a hard time fundraising and getting attention from the Omaha World-Herald…

Fed, State & Local

A Separated at Birth for the fans.

SCOTUS pick, Judge Neil Gorsuch…and legal eagle and NEGOP leader, Mark Fahleson!

 

Your Federal, State and Local rundown…

Feds

Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer was harassed and hounded this week with the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary.

Fischer was a holdout of sorts, reserving her vote on the issue until she could learn some final info about DeVos. Because of that, the people who march in the streets, set limos on fire, bash Starbucks windows — and some of the violent ones — made a phone call campaign to Fischer’s office.

And the Dems they love them some phone calling! Or marching! If they could march to a phone booth, that would actually be ideal. (Are there still phone booths? Did I hear some of you yungins say, “What’s a phone booth?”)

Point is, Deb Fischer is a former school board member and was state president of the Nebraska Association of School Boards. She knows her Ed issues. And she wasn’t about to be bullied by someone from Portland calling saying, “I’m from…uh…Pap-ee-own…and you shouldn’t support DeVos or…uh..I won’t vote for you next time.”

Instead Fischer asked DeVos her position on local education control and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. DeVos wrote Fischer a letter and expressed her support for both.

That local control one was the biggie, as DeVos has been a big supporter of Charter Schools. And the haters point to a program in Detroit where Charter schools didn’t work. Which is always good stuff, as they don’t seem to point to the many, many, many, many places where public schools don’t work.

Which isn’t to say that Charters are the miracle cure for every school. Millard School Board President Mike Kennedy is one who doesn’t oppose Charter Schools on their face. But he doesn’t feel that successful districts, like Millard’s, would necessarily benefit from them.

Again, that’s local control.

But whether it’s schools or the minimum wage or the water on your farm, the Big Government Dems love to hammer down the rules for evvvvvverrrryone from Washington.

Well, there’s a new sheriff in the District of Columbia.
Good thing the last guy left that pen and phone on the desk.

 

Staties

At this time of year…well most of the year…it is all inside-baseball stuff in the Nebraska Legislature. Lots about rules and motions and cloture and committees that the average person doesn’t pay attention to or frankly understand.

But they do understand the generalities of State Senators going their own way, often in a different direction from the average Nebraskan. Case in point: the Death Penalty.

Down in Lincoln right now they are still trying to figure out the budget that got screwed up from miscalculating the incoming taxes last year, among other issues.

The Governor’s peeps are trying to reign in spending (crazy idea, that). But there are others now (we’re looking your way Senators Harr and Krist) who are yelping that the Governor should have called a Special Session…LAST YEAR.

Well, just so everyone is on the same page, the Legislature could have called a special session last year. They did not need Pete Ricketts’ permission to do so. And the Tax Rate Review Committee which included Krist, Heath Mello, Speaker Hadley and Mike Gloor could have motioned and recommended that Ricketts call a special session.

So the Senators, with their dresses over their heads yelping about what SHOULD have been done, should get a grip.

And there are now quite a few Senators who are being disruptive of the process…just to be disruptive. Stuff like voting for bills out of committees, then filibustering them on the floor. (i.e. being for it before you were against it.)

But some have another view on this behavior by the Dems and the left-leaning Republicans: they no longer have the votes to run the place and they are still ticked off about chairmanships. In the past, the conservatives were small in number and if the liberal/moderates threatened anything, the Speaker would side with them and cave.

Well, new session. New legislative body. New Speaker.

And they’re not getting pushed around anymore.

Ah, elections…

 

Local-ites

The aforementioned former State Senator and Omaha Mayoral candidate, Heath Mello was on the radio in Omaha yesterday.  When asked about his top accomplishment in the Legislature, he named the aforementioned Budget that he designed and helped pass last spring.

You know, the Budget that’s nearly a BILLION dollars in the red, and some Senators are saying deserved a Special Session.

“Mr. Andrews, what would you say is your greatest achievement?”
“Well, I would HAVE to say building the Titanic. I mean it was a wonderful boat, really big, and EVERYONE agreed that it was unsinkable when it left port…”

But here’s another that would be funny, if it weren’t sad:

Heath Mello has been going on and on about how the City of Omaha needs to embrace technology and become a 21st Century city! And that he’s the youngster to do it!

(No matter that Omaha was recently cited as a top Digital City in the country.)

But Mello’s, and Mayor Jean Stothert’s, campaign report were due on January 31st at the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission offices. Stothert’s was submitted a few days before that, filed digitally and immediately posted online.

Her campaign raised a record $1.5 Million.

But Mello?

Heath Mello literally (and probably figuratively) MAILED his report in.
On a piece of paper.

So, that report, which will be put online, has to have all of the data, digit by digit, letter by letter, entered MANUALLY into the NADC system.

And don’t get the impression that there is a Mello staffer there to help out. It will be by the NADC staffers, paid by Nebraska taxpayers who will type-in each and every record in that mailed-report.

And you want a little irony, on top of all that? The poor NADC staffer has to hunt and peck on their keyboards to transfer the data. BUT, Heath Mello sent a regular Excel Spreadsheet out to the local press! WOWT even linked it for your handy-dandy download! NADC? Not so lucky.

There are any number of political reasons why Mello may be doing this. One wonders what he’s trying to hide by stalling his full report this way.

But the sum of it all is that he doesn’t care what it costs the taxpayers.

Or how the inability to review of these records side-by-side affects the issue of transparency that he has been trying to push since day one.

Keystone-a-GO-GO

Breaking news that President Trump signed an Executive Order to move forward with both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines.

Governor Ricketts:

Keystone XL will create good-paying jobs for Nebraska workers and bring property tax relief to counties along the route. Today’s decision represents years of extensive environmental reviews that confirm Keystone XL complies with federal safety and environmental standards. With the federal approval process complete, state regulators must now work through the process in Nebraska to conduct their own thorough consideration of the project.

Looks like someone is going to have to get some new t-shirts printed.

*****

In the main election for this off-year, announced-challenger Heath Mello went to the Kiwanis Club in Omaha to talk about how he’d work if he were elected Mayor of Omaha.

When asked about the recent Nebraska budget that he led in crafting, which ended up millions in the red, he responded that he DID his work on the budget…last spring.

He told the Kiwanisians that after he worked on the budget in April he was D-U-N done, and when the shortfall numbers came in, that was someone else’s job to figure out.

For instance, he said:

“When I ended my term as a legislature in service in April of last year the last legislative session, we had a balanced budget…”

“…when I ended my term as Appropriations Chair in April we balanced the budget and there was no deficit…”

“…we started to see projections start to slide and start to see revenues come in month after month a little lower…”

[full audio here]

What’s that, Senator?
He said, twice, he ended his service in April? He says he saw the revenues sliding month after month, but did nothing???

Heath Mello continued to be a State Senator until January of 2017. And every article written, every story reported about him until the new Senators were sworn in still called him Senator Heath Mello. For instance, just a month ago, in December, SENATOR Mello stood shoulder to shoulder with fellow State Senators Ken Haar and Tyson Larson to discuss how the Nebraska Legislature should discuss…climate change.

You got that?

Mello is willing to get down and dirty with his colleagues to talk about how to change the weather. But after he wrote down his guesses for how much money the state would bring in for the year back in April, he washed his hands of all things Appropriations!

The Governor certainly didn’t wait until the new Legislature was sworn in to address it. Why wouldn’t Mello weigh in then? Wouldn’t the self-proclaimed EXPERT on the budget want to sit down with the Governor or his colleagues or SOMEONE to work out the screw-up that occurred?

Not so much, says Mello.

Heck, back in July, Mello told the OWH, “We’ll need to keep a mindful eye on the next couple months’ revenue.” Which is nice. So what did he do about it? Absolutely nothing? (Maybe he could release all of his schedules to clear all this up.)

Is Mello to blame for the budget going kerplooey? Well, he WAS the one who led the Legislature on it. But just for argument’s sake, let’s say he gets the benefit of the doubt about the predictions. But after EVERYONE discovered that the predictions were wrong, what did Mello do?

Well, apparently he just put together his campaign for Mayor of Omaha.

And like a high school kid leaving the cafeteria, he left his giant mess there for someone ELSE to clean up.

While Mayor Jean Stothert is building new police precincts, negotiating labor contracts and fixing roads, Mello says he wants to fix ObamaCare and stop the polar caps from melting. Perhaps when he was filing for Mayor, he thought he was running for Congress.

*****

Nebraska Legislature Speaker Jim Scheer is preparing a resolution for Wednesday to expel State Senator Bill Kintner. He says that he believes he has more than 33 votes.

Kintner is reportedly preparing a statement for later today.

In the meantime there are bags full of hammers standing around asking, “What was Bill Kintner thinking?”

That’s the reaction of most normal thinking people involved in Nebraska politics. ICYMI, Kintner re-Tweeted a radio jock’s Tweet showing 3 ladies from the Women’s March holding “Not MY Pussy” signs, with the tag, “Ladies I think you’re safe.”

Apparently Kintner thought that was a really good one and re-Tweeted it to his Followers.

So here is a guy who is dealing with Ernie Chambers every day on his past issues, and probably not successfully.

Instead of laying low, keeping out of trouble and watching his every step and statement, after less than 3 weeks in session, he steps on his own…er…feet.

Many have never liked Kintner’s bombast. Others find his outspokenness a breath of fresh air in a PC world. But there is no doubt right now that he is hurting the Nebraska Republican Party, and it didn’t even take one of Chambers’ 6th-grade poems to do it.

Sure he has a right to say what he wants. And yes it was meant to be a joke. But, for Kintner especially, perception is reality. And the perception by the public is that Kintner is an oaf who can’t help himself from doing the next thing.

If he hasn’t done it already, Kintner needs to take a long look in the mirror.

Stay posted to @LeavenworthSt on Twitter for updates.

Standards

State Senator Burke Harr and Insurance Salesman Ned Ryerson

Today in the Unicameral, the Rules Committee will meet where they will address a number of proposals.

One, by Democrat Burke Harr would would effectively ABOLISH the Urban Affairs Committee by combining it with General Affairs.

Urban Affairs is currently chaired by the lone Democrat and lone African American Committee Chair, Justin Wayne. And one can argue about whether or not there are too many committees anyway.

But just IMAGINE if such a proposal were put forward by, say, Bill Kintner. Or Mark Kolterman. Or Mike Groene.

There would be outrage! Cries of racism! Appeals to the ghost of George Norris! A sudden “grass-roots” letter campaign from local Democrats!

Someone should get back to Adam Morfeld and let him know that Harr didn’t find enough “red” in his red wedding.

*****

Omaha City Councilman Chris Jerram leaned into the mic at a Council meeting yesterday and burped, “I hope we don’t see something like this (sexual harassment lawsuit) before the Council again.

Oh, Councilman Jerram, you mean something like…this?

Something like a City Official (you) mugging to the words, “Suck My Private Sector“?

 

Yes, it probably IS a good thing that no one from the council offices decided to file a claim against Jerram for this display.

And Heath Mello immediately spits out a press release demanding that someone be FIRED over this!

Well, except that someone WAS fired over it. But the city’s Personnel Board gave them their job back. So, once again, young Heath spouts off without knowledge of the facts, which is his M-O.

And of course this all occurred…during the Jim Suttle Administration.

Nothing like city politics.

*****

Keeping you up to date, only two candidates are on the April Omaha Mayoral ballot:

Jean Stothert.
And…Christopher Geary!

Geary, a perennial candidate got the required signatures and he’s officially in.

No word yet on signatures from hopeful NFL baron Taylor Royal or from heretofore unknown Ean Mikale. (Not to mention Heath Mello.)

At this point among the top candidates, only Jean Stothert has accepted a debate request from KFAB as well. Then again when your “plan for the future” is a snowplow tracking system…that has been in place for 5 years…maybe you aren’t in a hurry to respond to a live radio debate.

*****

State Senator Burke Harr and Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry

Back to Lincoln, also on today’s agenda in the Legislature’s Rules Committee, there’s Burke Harr’s plan to take redistricting away from the Legislature and give it to an “independent” advisory committee.

This is always an interesting scheme. Someone appoints a committee then declares that those going into it have no biases, grudges, agenda or influences.

And they also don’t answer to the voters.

This is another cop-out by those who don’t get their way and want to back-end their own agenda in by appointing their own people and calling it a blue-ribbon commission.

There is a reason there are elections.
There is a reason people vote.

*****

Jane Kleeb is in the news again. This time in a story pointing out that her “Bold Alliance” group, which is trying to grow chapters in other states, is really just an astroturf group funded by George Soros and others profiting off of cancellation of energy projects.

While Bold Alliance depicts itself as “a network of ‘small and mighty’ groups in rural states,” it was lambasted as a faux-grassroot organization in a 2014 report by the minority staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which called the group “an arm of the Billionaire’s Club.”

“It is nothing more than a shield for wealthy and distant non-Nebraskan interests who seek to advance a political agenda without drawing attention to the fact that they, too, are outsiders with little connection to the state,” the report said.

That “grass” has ground up rubber tires underneath it.

Whines and cheeses

It is high comedy when the Democrats in the Nebraska Legislature whine and moan about the “new partisanship” in the Unicameral.

Because…they’re…DEMOCRATS.

Wait, what? I thought the Unicameral didn’t have parties? How do we know they’re Democrats?
Exactly.

Bob Krist, who had his bottom handed to him (family blog here) on the Executive Board vote is the latest to cite the “black day” in the Legislature because Republicans took all but one committee chair.

This Tweet summed it up:

Well, here’s some news Senator: Nebraskans were tired of voting for Republicans and having Democrats be put in charge. Because to most, party does mean something. Nebraskans saw the Legislature abolish the death penalty and promptly voted it right back in. Nebraskans saw the RINOs vote contrary to their districts and voted them out.

Welcome to voters and their representatives giving State Senators a clue.

Of course the really comical part is that Democrats in the Legislature vote as a block on nearly ALL of the right/left issues. But as soon as Republicans vote with those they agree with politically in this political body, “Oh my! The partisanship!”

Cry me a river.

*****

The Omaha Mayor’s race is officially gearing up with former State Senator Heath Mello challenging Mayor Jean Stothert to seven debates across Omaha, one in each city council district.

Why Mello thinks only 7 is sufficient when there were way more than that last time is unknown. Or why he didn’t invite the other announced Mayoral candidate, Taylor Royal, who has turned in exactly as many signatures to put his name on the ballot as Mello has, also a head-scratcher.

Then there’s the issue of “transparency” that Mello has been so fond of for about 4 weeks. After demanding “transparency” from the Mayor, who has responded to the Nebraska Democrats’ records request with over 2,400 documents from the city, Mello hid from a demand by the Stothert campaign for HIS records as a State Senator.

Specifically, Mello responded to the the Stothert campaign (in the 3rd quarter of the Nebraska – Tennessee Music City Bowl so as to duck away from the press) saying he DECLINED the request:

“This is consistent normal practice of other Legislative members who have received similar requests including former State Senators Deb Fischer and John Nelson.”

But when asked Thursday, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer specifically called out Mello’s statement. In a call with reporters Senator Fischer said:

“I don’t know where Mr. Mello got his information from, but he’s wrong. The request (made to Fischer by the Nebraska Democrats in 2012) was for my calendar, my schedules. We printed those off and we mailed them to the Nebraska Democrat Party, and heard nothing about it again. I haven’t talked to Heath for the last four years since I left the Legislature, so I don’t know where he got that information. But it’s wrong.”

Ball’s in your court Heath.
Any other excuses for hiding your records?

*****

Holy moley the Omaha World-Herald went after Senator Ben Sasse today. In an editorial they attacked Sasse for quitting the Senate Agriculture Committee and joining the Senate Armed Services Committee instead.

Beyond the fact that Nebraska is already represented on Armed Services by fellow Nebraska Republican Deb Fischer, Sasse left the Ag Committee, which has seated a Nebraskan since the 1970s.

“Sasse’s decision ends that tradition, and it’s troubling.”

On that note, North Omahan, via Bellevue, State Senator Ernie Chambers is now on the Legislature’s Ag Committee.

So…balance?

*****

Congratulations to new Congressman Don Bacon – NE02.

You can find him on Twitter @DonJBacon and on Facebook at RepDonBacon.

And Leavenworth St.’s founder Jerry Kratochvil, a/k/a Street Sweeper, has a new Twitter account: @JerryKrat. Follow him for all things in the local zeitgeist.

Kleeb and Dems mislead about records request…because of course

Nebraska Democrat Chair Jane Kleeb met with an Omaha city attorney last week who gave her specific information about when the City would complete the political records request made by the Nebraska Democrats.

Then Jane Kleeb went on Twitter and Facebook and pretended that this conversation never occurred and cast aspersions on the City of Omaha and Mayor Jean Stothert.

Because that’s what Jane Kleeb does. That’s how she operates. That’s how she has always operated. And YOU should expect more of this from National Democrat Jane Kleeb and her Saul Alinsky campaign tactics.

So what REALLY happened?

The Nebraska Democrats sent their political records request to the City of Omaha back in June of 2016. These deep dives cost money. And guess what? The Democrats didn’t PAY for it until October, which triggers the response to the request.

Digging up the records is time consuming. City staff has spent over 100 hours on this political request, which is estimated to be over 10,000 documents. And this is exactly what a city attorney told Jane Kleeb when he met with her…LAST WEEK!  He told her that a response to one of the three requests from the Nebraska Democratic Party would go out within the week…and as promised it went out last Friday.

The city attorney also told Jane Kleeb that the next response would go out by the first week of January 2017. And, reportedly, Jane did NOT object.

But you’d think that Jane was not at that meeting with the city attorney. Because she Tweeted today:

Hey Jane! You got the phone number wrong!
The Mayor’s Hotline, where she invites ALL citizens to call, is 402-444-5555. (Maybe look it up from your bunker in Hastings next time.)

And then there was this one..

Again, strange that Democrat Chair Kleeb didn’t have any beef with the timing of the political request when she MET with the Omaha city attorney last week.

But that is Jane Kleeb.

This is the same person accused  of blocking a female, native Nebraskan, African American from speaking at the state Democrat convention last summer.

This is the same person embroiled in the controversy of stacking the party’s caucuses with her personal Bernie Bros.

For that matter, she’s the same one who grabs a Future Farmers of America jacket to pretend she’s “one of us”.

Expect more of the same.

….

With the 150th anniversary of Nebraska statehood approaching, the state is putting out 150 short videos with random facts about the state and its history.

Here is #1:

How’d you do?

….

Senator Deb Fischer also put up a holiday greeting recently…

…and Senator Ben Sasse was out supporting the Salvation Army

Happy New Year!

Electoral College Makes it Official: Hillary Clinton is #NotMyPresident

Merry Christmas, everyone! Or should we say, Happy ChrismaHannuKwanzikah!

Colin Powell and Faith Spotted Eagle

Monday, amidst the cacophonous and shrill demonstrations/protestations of Clintonites around the country, members of the Electoral College officially voted to make Donald J. Trump the President-elect of the United States. Electors from Washington and Texas tried to spearhead an effort to “vote your conscience” and find a compromise Republican candidate instead of Trump, but they failed miserably. They tried to force an Intelligence briefing about Russia’s supposed involvement in the election, but they failed miserably. In short, their effort failed to get any traction on the ground (meaning, outside of liberal papers like the New York Times and Washington Post) where the votes actually mattered. Reminds us of Hillary’s campaign in key states like Wisconsin and Michigan….

Many protests were held in state capitals around the country, but Wisconsin’s takes the cake. One woman shouted “You people have no right! We’re all going to die in wars because of you!” Another shouted “This is MY AMERICA! YOU SOLD US OUT!” Chants of “SHAME, SHAME, SHAME” were constant. (On a positive note, however, when’s the last time anyone ever watched these proceedings before?)

The final tally? Trump 304, Clinton 227, with seven “faithless electors” voting for other candidates. One small problem: Clinton had more faithless electors than Trump did. (All 5 Nebraska electors voted for Trump, as expected) The entire spectrum was represented, with Libertarian Republican Ron Paul, Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Native American Faith Spotted Eagle all receiving votes. (Note that Ron Paul didn’t even run for President yet still got more electoral votes than Gary Johnson…)

Here are the faithless electors, and the people for whom they voted:

State Pledged to Voted for
Hawaii Clinton Bernie Sanders
Texas Trump Ron Paul
Texas Trump John Kasich
Washington Clinton Colin L. Powell
Washington Clinton Colin L. Powell
Washington Clinton Colin L. Powell
Washington Clinton Faith Spotted Eagle

…..

2017 Mayor’s Race:

Taylor Royal, your next Mayor?

As has been reported elsewhere, 26 year old accountant Taylor Royal is running as a Republican for Omaha mayor in 2017 against incumbent Mayor Jean Stothert and liberal Democrat challenger Sen. Heath Mello. Unfortunately for Taylor, Deadspin has already written an article slamming him for wanting to build an NFL stadium. We cannot post the title because it uses a slur word, but we suspect Omaha voters would hesitate to build yet another stadium. In all reality, though, congratulations to Taylor for wanting to get involved, but the political/financial feasibility of this endeavor might leave much to be desired.

…..

Nebraska Legislature

Counting down the days until the madness known as the #NEleg begins in earnest. Here are a couple off the beaten path issues that might play a role this year:

Occupational Licensing Reform – The OWH recently published an editorial largely endorsing the movement to reduce licensure requirements for certain professions. This follows in the footsteps of Sen. Nicole Fox’s bill passed last session to reform the licensing requirements for hair braiding, etc. While not a sexy issue, the issue has bipartisan support (President Obama’s WH published a report endorsing the project nationally) and would encourage private-sector job growth. Will the Senators have enough time/moxy to address it?

“Campaign Finance Reform” – Democrat Sen. Sue Crawford (recently re-elected) was featured in an OWH story about the prospect of tougher requirements for advertisements during election season. In the story, she laments the role voter education campaigns (primarily the ones done by Trees of Liberty and Americans for Prosperity) did in sinking the re-election hopes of multiple colleagues. Voter information projects differ from traditional political mail in that they cannot endorse candidates or ask for a vote, but they can talk about issues.

Liberals are complaining that voters were informed about the liberal voting records of supposedly “conservative Republicans” like Al Davis and Jerry Johnson and that they responded by kicking them out of office.

Does this not remind you of the complaining done by the Clinton campaign about Russia “stealing” the election by releasing 100% truthful information about Clinton’s misdeeds?

All of these things could have been avoided if Republican Senators voted the platform and Clinton/Team Clinton didn’t skirt the rules.

More importantly, did the OWH mention the fact that the single biggest political contributor to Nebraska Legislative races in the last few cycles is none other than the ultra-liberal NSEA/teachers union? No, because that would screw up their preferred narrative that only conservative Republicans like Gov. Ricketts throw money around. It’s interesting how they fail to mention the tens of thousands of dollars the NSEA spent attacking conservatives like Suzanne Geist, Ian Swanson, and others. (More to come on this subject as well)

…..

Herbster for Ag Secretary?:

More reporting from Politico that Nebraska GOP Donor Charles W. Herbster is still in contention for Ag Secretary:

Charles Herbster, the agribusiness mogul from Nebraska who chairs Trump’s agricultural advisory committee, managed to stay under the radar as he made his way to New York last week to meet with Trump transition officials, according to a source close to the transition — though he doesn’t appear to have spoken directly to the president-elect. Still, the fact Herbster was summoned to NYC suggests he remains very much in the mix. In many ways, Herbster would make sense: He’s a businessman from one of the country’s biggest farm states who was a key rural backer for the loyalty-loving Trump during the campaign. His dearth of government experience, which would likely be a detriment in any other administration, could fit into Trump’s swamp-draining pledge. (Source: POLITICO/http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-agriculture/2016/12/vilsack-hints-at-future-ag-policy-role-217941)

…..

NEGOP ED Position Unannounced:

The Nebraska Republican Party has not yet announced who will take-over for Bud Synhorst as Executive Director. The race seems to be down to Patrick Roy, Kenny Zoeller, and a mystery third candidate, rumored to be from out-of-state. An announcement is expected soon. The “smart money” is on Kenny Zoeller, but the NEGOP could surprise us all. More to come.

Mayors, Mellos, and Moderates

Long time no talk. Much to get to as we get closer to Christmas/New Years (and a new Legislative session!)

2017 Mayor’s Race:

Progressive Democrat Sen. Heath Mello recently held his official campaign kickoff and came out swinging, claiming Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert’s leadership has made Omaha terrible for millennials. This on the same day Mayor Stothert held a millennials forum where she outlined all of the “Top Ten” lists Omaha is on, including No.3 on “America’s 15 Best Cities for Young Professionals” (Forbes) and No.2 on the “Best U.S. Cities for Millennial College Students” (USA Today).

Senator Mello might be taking a page from the Hillary Clinton “vast, right-wing conspiracy” playbook, but we have a sneaking suspicion Omahans agree that Forbes and USA Today are legitimate sources and Omaha is doing just fine.

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Nebraska Legislature

We are just a few short weeks away from a new Nebraska Legislative Session. Or, as conservatives like to call it: the months we lose sleep over tax increases.

Here are a few things to watch:

  1. What happens on the first day of Session in the battle over open votes? Sen. Chambers has pledged to filibuster indefinitely (reading his “Kintner-grams for hours on the floor if necessary) if open votes are pushed. Do Republicans have the intestinal fortitude to fight back, or will they find other avenues to get it passed? Rumor has it that, if given a vote, the rules change would be close.
  2. Do Democrats get many Committee Chairmen, or do Republicans fight back? While many Dems have publicly said little, behind the scenes it’s nuclear war over chairmanships. (Ask any of the newly-elected Senators how much mail/calls they’ve received from folks lobbying for votes) Does a GOP-dominated Legislature give them the ribbing the Dems deserve for their pride?
  3. How does the Unicam address the almost $1B budget shortfall? Progressives like Renee Fry at the liberal Open Sky Institute want tax increases (through expanding the sales tax base, primarily) to make up the gap, but conservatives want a combination of tax reform and fiscal discipline. Will moderate Republicans decide to fight for the actual Republican Party platform?

(Sensing a theme yet with these questions?)

  1. Finally, what happens with Kintner? Dems are saying they will push for an expulsion vote, which would place Republicans in a tight spot. It will be interesting to see what the Republicans decide to do. Few people think the votes are out there to actually kick Kintner out, but we are sure the Dems would love an opportunity to prosecute Sen. Kintner on the floor and grandstand for NET.

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Bud Says Goodbye:

The Nebraska Republican Party had its last State Central Committee Meeting of the 2016 cycle this weekend and honored retiring Executive Director Bud Synhorst for his service to the Party. Bud (serving under Chairmen JL Spray and Dan Welch) oversaw very successful elections in 2014 and 2016. While not all of the Republicans elected have voted like it enough for many conservatives, the Party exists to elect Republicans, and Bud did that very well.

Thank you for your service, Bud. We all hope you get to watch a great many more baseball games now!

Who will replace Bud? The rumor mill is spinning, with Party stalwarts Patrick Roy (who worked for Deb Fischer ’12, Dan Welch ’13, Bart McLeay ’14, and at Northstar most recently), Kenny Zoeller (Sasse in ’14, Advisor to Gov. Ricketts since then), and Rod Edwards (who has managed many Leg. Races) among the names being tossed around. Stay tuned, b/c this will be interesting…

 

Frequent flyer miles

fischer-thanks-04ICYMI, Nebraska’s Sr. U.S. Senator, Deb Fischer, spent Thanksgiving with the troops.

Fischer met with service members from Nebraska at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar and Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. The visit was part of a Senate Armed Services Committee congressional delegation trip focused on the continued mission in Afghanistan.

At Al Udeid Air Base, Senator Fischer met Master Sergeant Daniel Westman from Bellevue, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Shannon from Omaha, Staff Sergeant Jennifer Jensen from Alliance.

fischer-thanks-06At Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan she met with Lieutenant Colonel James Rye of McCook, Chief Warrant Officer Aaron Carpenter of Omaha, Sergeant Jared Cornell of Omaha, Sergeant Erik Servellon of Omaha Lieutenant Colonel Danny Robinson of North Platte, and Chief Warrant Officer Nicole Patterson of Beatrice.

Because of military protocol on issues involving of use of torture, it is unclear as to whether or not she or her fellow Nebraskans were forced to watch the Husker loss to Iowa on Friday.

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Back home, Heath Mello is just starting into his campaign for Mayor of Omaha. He is sending emails and attacking Mayor Jean Stothert, etc., etc.

But Heath figured he needs to raise some money too, and where does Heath go to raise money to be Mayor of OMAHA?
Well…Lincoln, of course.
Because apparently Heath doesn’t know where else to go.

And who does he invite to the funder at the local bar?
Lobbyists.
Lots and lots of lobbyists.

As a matter of fact, his HOSTS for the fundraiser included over 17 lobbyists registered with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission.

Well, that’s one way to run for Omaha’s top job.
Run to Lincoln and rub elbows with the Lincoln Lobbyists in the Legislature.

Too bad about those term limits…

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The Greater Omaha Pachyderm Luncheon is today (Monday) from 11:40am – 1pm at The Garden Cafe in Rockbrook Village, 108th & Center St.

The speakers will be State Senators Bob Hilkemann, John McCollister, and Bret Lindstrom, who will give a preview of some of the upcoming issues that may be debated in the next session.

Mello swings & misses on Omaha ideas

Jean StothertAfter Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert’s reelection announcement, Democrat Mayor candidate Heath Mello immediately went on the political attack, talking in generalities and keeping alive the partisan banter of the past election year that so many are tired of.

At her announcement, Stothert had Republicans and Democrats and people from every part of the city praising and endorsing Mayor Stothert before a packed crowd at UNO’s Scott Conference Center.

But Mello didn’t stop with the local press.

He also took to Twitter (or the Twitter, as Sweeper was fond to say) in response to a citizen’s request:

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-1-57-24-pm

Mello responded…

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Which is interesting.

Leavenworth St. has heard that any request the City of Omaha’s Planning Department has ever received for art work on the grain elevators…has been approved.

You can note some of the art on these elevators from Emerging Terrain on their website here.

Our guess is that the political hits from young Mello will keep coming. No word yet on if/when they might be accurate.

 

Jean Stothert for Mayor

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert made her reelection campaign announcement Monday evening at UNO’s Scott Conference Center.

You can watch the entire announcement, as well as short clips from the evening at the campaign Facebook page at Facebook.com/JeanforMayor.

But the above referenced Heath Mello took a shot at former Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman as well.

And Heineman apparently struck a nerve with Heath.

Here is what Heineman had to say, in part, while introducing the Mayor…

Our guess is Heineman won’t be worried about talking about his experience in Lincoln with Heath.