I went to bed Saturday night pretty well satisfied that I had this week’s column well in hand, along with preparations for a four-day out-of-town trip starting at 7:00 a.m. Wednesday.
Then I read the Sunday World-Herald’s fascinating, fact-filled story of nearly $1.9 million that an ultra-conservative Falls City/Kansas city resident (he maintains residences in both cities) is contributing to help State Senator Beau McCoy of Omaha try to come from a “who’s he” role to a well-financed contender in the Republican gubernatorial primary election May 14.
McCoy was quoted as denying that the money contributed by Charles Herbster will give Herbster any influence over McCoy if he should win his way to the governor’s office. (I’m prompted to say that if you believe that, be sure to leave a glass of milk and a plate of cookies by the fireplace next Christmas Eve.)
Herbster Considered Running
The public record shows that Herbster had first envisioned himself as running for governor, but illness in the family persuaded him to turn over a good deal of money and a well-organized campaign staff to candidate McCoy. The record still isn’t clear as to why he chose McCoy, but a logical answer might be that other candidates for the Republican nomination have their own sources of financial support, while there is no indication that McCoy on his own could have attracted significant contributions.
Among the fascinating details revealed in The World-Herald story is the fact that Herbster has made a call on Governor Dave Heineman, presumably to ask for his support of Beau McCoy. Heineman confirmed the fact of the visit but declined to comment further.
More Big Bucks To Come?
In comments to The World-Herald, Herbster freely discussed the extent of the contributions which he has already routed McCoy’s way and good naturedly said he took the Fifth Amendment in regard to questions about further contributions.
(There seemed to be a hint of more Herbster financial support that might be routed through his contributions to political campaign committees which can make contributions without identifying the source of the funds.)
The World-Herald story detailed some of the private-life encounters which Herbster has had with property tax collectors and traffic law enforcers.
To quote from The World-Herald report:
“By 2012 Herbster had caught up with all his tax payments.
“Herbster also acknowledged that he has a long history of driving offenses, and that his license was once suspended, in 202. Overall, Herbster has been fined 21 times in Missouri and Nebraska since 2000—mostly for speeding, although one of the tickets was for parking in a handicapped spot, and others were for making ‘unnecessary noise.’
“Herbster said he accepted responsibility for his driving record, but disputed the idea that he had ever parked in a handicapped stall.
“He said he hired an attorney who promised to ‘take care’ of the tickets so they wouldn’t count as points on his driving record. He said he believes the attorney worked out deals with the county attorney, lowering some tickets to lesser offenses.
“’I can guarantee you, I never parked in a handicapped parking spot and I never harassed people (with noise),’ Herbster said.”
The World-Herald apparently did not question candidate McCoy on the private-life record of his very generous political benefactor.
Legislature Should Take Action
The less-than-positive story of the Herbster/McCoy relationship—and the private life story of citizen Herbster in action—prompts me to urge that the next session of the Nebraska Legislature take prompt action to remove Nebraska from the list of six states—that’s all, just six states—which place no restriction on political contributions in state political campaign like this year’s spirited contest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
The Herbster/McCoy story alone is adequate evidence that the 44-contribution-limiting states have got it right.
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Bryan Slone Could Be The Best GOP Candidate
But His Gubernatorial Campaign Strategy Puzzles
I agree with those who consider Omahan Bryan Slone the best qualified candidate for the Republican nomination for governor.
But I don’t understand why Slone has chosen to concentrate on the Western Nebraska Third Congressional district (for an example, his first mailing stresses his “small town roots”) instead of the impressive record which he built primarily from an Omaha base.
The first Slone mailing to reach our home included kind words about Slone from Governor Dave Heineman and the customary “pro-life” label. (In the name of commonsense, who is “anti-life”?)
The Slone mailing piece also twice describes Slone as a “Ronald Reagan Republican.” (Reagan was president a quarter-century ago.)
The bottom line still is that Slone could be the best Republican candidate for governor if his campaign would broaden its focus.
Some Advice For Candidate Slone
Instead of continuing to emphasize (1) belief in the policies of a president who served a quarter century ago and (2) his childhood roots in Western Nebraska, tell the voters more about your career achievements after graduation with a law degree from the University of Nebraska—the experiences and accomplishments which attracted a number of influential Nebraskans, especially a number in Omaha, to enthusiastically support your candidacy.
Things like your political experience as a staff member of Congressman Hal Daub of Omaha, and your work as a partner in a well-known Washington law firm (which took him on assignment to organize a law firm in Berlin).
Telling the Bryan Slone story would be helped, too, by a reference to your experience as a partner in the prestigious accounting firm Deloitte and Touche (in which you became Omaha managing partner and helped Nebraska firms become not only more successful in Nebraska but enabled them to, on occasion, compete successfully in the global market place.
As I see it, Slone’s late-starting campaign’s chance for success lies in more emphasis on the impressive record of what he learned and accomplished after graduating from the University of Nebraska College of Law, not on the facts that he grew up in Western Nebraska and considers himself a disciple of a president who served a quarter of a century ago.
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The World-Herald recently struck out with on its decision to pay for a life-size bronze statue of Creighton basketball All-American Doug McDermott and have it erected immediately on the grounds of CenturyLink Center where Creighton plays its home basketball games.
The idea has been mercifully put to rest for at least a few years, with the possibility that McDermott success in a professional basketball career may create better timing to erect the statue on the Creighton campus.
You might think The World-Herald management would avoid similar not-a-chance suggestions. But not so, as evidenced by a recent full-page World-Herald proposal that Omaha raise the multi-millions of dollars necessary to provide a golf course of sufficient size and setting to try to attract—perhaps every 10 or 15 years—the U.S. Open or the PGA Championship.
Gamble Many Millions On A Possibility?
After listing a number of existing courses and the reasons they could not be made available because of location and size-restrictions, the only possible alternative left for Omaha would be to build a “majors-attractive” golf course that would cost mega-millions.
The World-Herald story consisted largely of listing existing Nebraska courses and giving reasons why they wouldn’t work for attracting a major. Included were the Omaha Country Club, the Lincoln Country Club, the Happy Hollow Club in Omaha and even the Sand Hills Golf Club in Western Nebraska.
Also mentioned was another course that wouldn’t work—Firethorn in Lincoln—and the looney idea that somehow Omaha’s Benson Park public links could be expanded into a championship course.
Expand Benson Park Course? Get Real
No mention, of course, of the big bucks that would be required to provide clubhouse facilities and surrounding acreage for parking lots or all the related facilities which would have to be provided for a possible major championship every 10 or 15 years.
The most charitable explanation would be that World-Herald management approved the full-page story as sort of an April Fool’s joke.
A final thought: It would seem reasonable that the story should have answered this question: “How many millions of dollars would The World-Herald put up to help finance the major golf course construction or re-construction costs which would be necessary to try to attract a major golf tournament every 10 or 15 years.
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This Week’s Lighter-Hearted Column Ender
Pictured below is, at last, an appetizing-looking dish featured on one of those weekly World-Herald “Let’s Talk Good Eating Suggestions Today” pages.
Finally, a color picture of food that actually looks appetizing. In recognition of the Easter season, a picture of a ham that looks very definitely good enough to eat.
And then we turn to one of those “What Is It?” pictures which are more typical of The World-Herald’s weekly “Eating, Place Of The Week” stories.
This dish, apparently intended to be served with that delicious-looking ham, can be blamed on the Associated Press instead of the customary World-Herald photographers. But my question is the regular one:
“What in the world is it, and do the editors really think it looks appealing?”
If you read the caption, you would learn that the totally unappetizing—to me at least—dish as a “Kale Salad with Apples, Apricots and Manchego Cheese.”
Not with my slice of ham, Associated Press menu creator.
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