Under the “one-week-on, next-week-off” policy which I announced some months ago, this is supposed to be a week off.
But with the Omaha municipal elections—mayor, city council, school board—to be held next Tuesday, this will be my last opportunity to share some thoughts with you in regard to two of those elections in which I have a particular interest and a reasonable knowledge of what I see to be the facts.
I’m talking about the contest for mayor and the contest for the Third District seat on the Omaha Board of Education.
In the mayoral contest, it seems to me that some people are holding the candidates to two different standards, comparing what challenger Jean Stothert promises with what Mayor Jim Suttle has done.
To some observers, Stothert’s promises outweigh Suttle’s performance. As I see it, performance, if generally positive and significant, beats promises every time.
Why The Secrecy About Big-Money Support?
Stothert’s supporters include some who can make major contributions to finance anti-Suttle and therefore pro-Stothert ads without identifying themselves.
Stothert herself, who has a perhaps better-than-average performance as a City Council member, has traded heavily on promises to reduce taxes and deliver more efficient, taxpayer-friendly city government. If she has specified how she would do this, I’ve missed that speech or ad.
I confess to a skepticism about candidates who promise to “reduce taxes.” In some cases—as the federal level at this time—some tax rates need to be increased if we are ever to approach a responsible balanced Federal budget situation again.
Jean Stothert sounds to me like one of those Americans—there are entirely too many of them—who forget that taxes are the price we pay for living in a civilized society. I don’t advocate, of course, supporting any tax increase proposal that comes along. But I think it is very unfortunate that so many voters react with knee-jerk approval to any suggestion that “we’ve just got to reduce taxes.”
Abortion An Issue, As Stothert Mailing Suggests?
Insofar as I have seen, Stothert has been getting a free ride from the mainstream print and broadcast news media when it comes to challenging some statements on her flood of mailings to Omaha households—statements like the claim that she has been a consistent “pro-life” supporter and that she fought successfully against proposals that would have restricted Omahans’ religious liberty.
I know of no abortion issue that has required City Council attention or of religious liberty issue that has come before the City Council in any significant way or is likely to.
Stothert supporters apparently are willing to accept her refusal to identify the big-money contributors who are giving their money anonymously (with a notable exception of conservative Republican activist Pete Ricketts) because of a flaw in Nebraska political-campaign contribution reporting law—a loophole which the Nebraska Legislature has refused to close for two consecutive sessions.
Stothert Not Proud Of Big-Money Support?
One would think that Stothert would be proud to be identified with supporters who are willing to put up substantial amounts of money to elect her (or, in some cases, not so much to elect Stothert as to defeat Suttle).
One strong voice supporting Stothert acknowledged two important achievements of Jim Suttle’s administration as mayor:
–Putting the city’s financial affairs in order that the city regained its AAA municipal bond rating, which had slipped to AA. The result of the return to the AAA rating will save the city tens of millions of dollars in interest rates at the time as municipal bonds are issued.
–Efficient and effective job in protecting the city from flood damage during last year’s record-breaking devastating Missouri River flooding.
Will Money Backing Stothert Be Decisive?
This pro-Stothert voice faulted the mayor on three points which, to me, are trivial:
–An almost humorous mix-up in the process of providing a city-owned vehicle for Suttle’s use.
–The fact that some very appropriate salary increases for four key city employees were not announced by Suttle at the time they were put in place but were generally approved as appropriate when they became public.
–A mistake which Suttle made in his understanding of the facts involved in a case where a small business involving about a hundred employees moved from the city to a location beyond the city limits.
All trivial issues, as I see it.
But money talks—campaign funding money, that is—and Stothert has about a two-one advantage over Suttle in the general election campaign.
Almost forgot: In the closing days of the campaign, a Stothert mailing featured an endorsement by Doug Kagan, who might properly be described as “an old number” in terms of being able to gain at least a modicum of news media attention in a self-assumed role as leader of a group (number of members never specified) which without exception oppose anything that smacks of progressive government.
* * *
As Marian And I See It,
Bradford Clearly Best OPS Choice
A few thoughts on another municipal election which I—and Marian—have a particular interest: The Third District seat on the Omaha Board of Education.
Incumbent Marian Fey is challenged by Woody Bradford, a widely-respected Omaha attorney with an impressive record of involvement in civic affairs.
I wrote recently of Marian’s and my support for Bradford, citing, among other things, the fact that Marian Fey was one of the eight board members voting to retain Freddie Gray as board president after performance which nearly had Omaha hiring a new school superintendent who had resigned after the Des Moines Board of Education had discovered she was carrying on an adulterous, sex-saturated affair, documented on e-mails which she sent over her Des Moines-school district-supplied computer.
Misleading Claim Further Hurt Fey Candidacy
Since that recent column item, a new reason has emerged to challenge Fey’s qualifications as a candidate for re-election.
In a recent mailing, Fey claimed that she had been endorsed by The World-Herald. The truth was that The World-Herald had mentioned both Fey and Bradford as credible candidates.
Fey’s misleading claim to endorsement by The World-Herald was made crystal clear last Monday when The World-Herald endorsed Bradford, who had been endorsed by Governor Heineman among others since the earlier editorial speaking favorably of both Fey and Bradford.
* * *
Meet Newest Member Of A Great Family
This week’s upbeat column-ending introduces you to the newest addition to a family whose friendship has meant so much to me for nearly a quarter of a century.
His name is Gavin Eli Stiens and he was eight days old when his father, Travis Stiens (presumably with the approval of his mother, Angie Will Stiens), started the process of making sure that their first-born grows up as a fan of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (where his parents met) and the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Travis and Angie, of Delmont, South Dakota, are pursuing their careers in the Deep South, residing in Atlanta, but their hearts are in the Heartland.
Travis has been a special friend of mine since I first started hunting game birds in northwest Missouri and met his parents and their remarkable family of seven children. Sue and Steve Stiens have been dear friends to the Andersen family ever since, especially so since I bought farmland near their home southwest of Skidmore, Missouri and built a hunting lodge there.
So welcome to my new friend Gavin Eli Stiens and my thanks to the rest of the Stiens family for being such good friends for so many years.
# # #