Monday, December 20, 2010

We have moved!

That time has arrived, and we at Leavenworth Street are leaving our Blogger address.  

We have had success and good times here, but it is time to move on.

So click here to go to and be sure to update your Bookmarks -- and tell your friends.  (You can also go to -- same thing.)

We have shut down the comments here on the address, but you can still comment on old posts -- and new posts! -- at the new address.

See you on the other side!

- Street Sweeper

Friday, December 17, 2010


This morning the LJS’s Don Walton facilitated Ben Nelson’s hit on Jon Bruning over earmarks, who makes them and who gets them.

Interesting stuff, and feel free to argue about that issue.

But the real kicker came in the bottom half of the article where former state GOP chair, and 2006 GOP Senate primary candidate, Dave Kramer took shots at Bruning, Don Stenberg and (poor) Pat Flynn.

Kramer, once again, stated that:
“...there's a significant component of people in the state who believe there might be a better option.”

Kramer wouldn’t be saying this if he didn’t have SOMEONE in mind for the gig. We are guessing that Kramer isn’t speaking of himself (though it’s possible, in theory).

And he wouldn’t be taking shots at Bruning’s positions against Nelson -- defending Nelson -- if he didn’t have someone else in mind.

So who is he backing? Who is the mystery candidate?

Mike Foley? Or Fortenberry?(more on him below)
Deb Fischer (more on her below)?
Mystery candidate #4?

Whomever it is, Kramer is setting the stage, and we are guaranteed a GOP primary BATTLE.

Probably just what Nelson wants, but then again, we need these sorts of elections. It’s like Clemenza said in The Godfather,
That's all right. These things gotta happen every five years or so, ten years. Helps to get rid of the bad blood.
Except of course that they tend to make for bitter politicos. But, ah whatcha gonna do? It’s democracy.


And just to add on, The Hill had a list of GOPers who voted against the Tax Bill, who may or may not be interested in higher office in 2012.

This time it was Jeff Fortenberry listed. The Hill said,
"...Fortenberry has shown little public interest so far in challenging Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)."
We always read these things with a bit of interest, because the author is usually basing their statements on...something.

In this case, again, it’s our belief that Fortenberry isn’t interested unless Nelson drops out of the race.

And then the OWH followed up on our post (snark) about Kay Orr . Interestingly they also noted that Rex Fisher says he is NOT running (something we had mentioned). And they also listed Bob Bennie of Lincoln as out (we never heard he was in).

The next name who is potentially interesting is state Senator Deb Fischer of Valentine, who we have discussed here and there.

When her name first came up, she seemed like such a random long-shot that we gave her sort of short shrift. But as all the other names keep popping up...and then back down...Fischer has the potential to interest some people. (We would note that NRL’s Julie Schmidt-Albin quickly came to her defense on our first post. She would have some immediate organizing ability.)

But again, a lot of this depends on whether or not Nelson stays in the race. If he is in, someone like Senator Fischer could make a three or four person race VERY interesting.

Where if Nelson gets out, then there may be two or three other heavy-weights that give it a whirl, and she could have a harder time of it.

Oh, and there’s the State Auditor Mike Foley aspect as well, which would throw in an extra monkey-wrench.

Loads of excitement, kiddos.


And then Joe Jordan posted on his blog that Dave Nabity had been vocal about running for Mayor to the Recall Committee peeps, a while back.

We heard this a while ago as well, but don’t think it is that big of a deal.

So Nabity wants to run for Mayor? That’s shocking? Again, are we to think that the MSRC is just a altruistic bunch who are willing to have “Anyone But Suttle”? Come on.

Now maybe it was a bad idea, politically, for Nabity to say it out loud. But otherwise, let’s stop pretending that no one is, or should be, thinking about it.

And who might they be? Hal Daub? Dan Welch? Pete Festersen? Brad Ashford?

Could be.

Once Judge Bataillon gives his decision, the floodgates may well open.

Have your raft ready.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kay Orr for Senate?

Well this one had us spitting coffee this early morning.

Chris Cilliza of the Washington Post blog, The Fix, says that former Nebraska Governor Kay Orr has been approached to run for Senate in 2012.

And her reaction?
"I can't see any set of circumstances that would persuade me to get in there again," Orr said. "I'm flattered that I've had some people suggest that I do so. They think it would be an interesting rematch."
Asked whether that meant she was ruling out a challenge to Nelson, Orr said with a laugh: "Is that what I just said?
So coy!

OK, look, Orr would be 73 in 2012. We are not saying that disqualifies her or anything, but it is not like she has been heavily involved in the political scene since her defeat to Ben Nelson...TWENTY years ago. We have no doubt Orr is flattered, but we aren't going to get riled up just yet.

Then again, Ben Nelson ain't exactly a Spring chicken either. So maybe they could re-match up.

The thing is here, there are apparently people going around trying to find alternatives to Jon Bruning and Don Stenberg.

We heard the name of Rex Fisher sort of out of nowhere. And now Orr.

And then in another story, The Fix quoted David Kramer saying:
"There are people that are hoping that a candidate captivates them more than Jon does."
Is another big name GOPer needed in this race? We probably haven't heard the last of the names being thrown around.


And as long as The Fix is keeping busy, note that Don Stenberg Tweeted (well, he tried anyway) The Fix story that said he is "absolutely" in.

Announcement by Twitter?


And as long as we're filling space, you can follow our Twitter feed here.!/LeavenworthSt

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why they did it

The Omaha World Herald has spent a fair amount of time over the past week defending their reasons for posting an online database listing every person who signed the Mayor Suttle Recall petition.

They’re claimed, “public duty”, and “openness” and all sorts of other reasons.

Here’s one they left out:


The OWH’s internet pages got lots and lots of hits from their little outing-database. And you can bet that those hit counts will be wildly crowed to their advertisers.

And the real use for this database anyway? To spy on others.

As a matter of fact, note the Tweet that went out from the liberal Twittererer, PoliticalOmaha:
Want to know if your friend or neighbor signed the recall? Full searchable database of names...
That is it right there, kiddos.

So enough about all this, “well, the people who sign are really recall volunteers.”

Uh, no. No they’re not.

They are registered voters. (...well, for the most party anyway.) And the OWH did their best to try to shame them and anyone else who wants to sign a petition in the future.

And that’s a shame.


Congratulations to Congressman Adrian Smith on his appointment to the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee. (We Tweeted this the day it was announced, as well.)

Placement on this A-list, tax-writing committee is a plum for Nebraska and for Smith, only in his third term.

It’s too bad that those who heard about this from the LJS’s Don Walton had to hear Don slam Smith via a random other story as well. Without any response from or defense of Smith in the story.

Think that would have happened in a Ben Nelson story?


And speaking of Senator Nellie, he sure seems like a Republican when you read about him in the Nebraska papers, doesn’t he?

Well, get him in his element with the rest of the Democrats and his Democrat fur will start to fly.

Case in point with the Senator sitting toe-to-toe with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews (who used to work for long-time Democrat Speaker Tip O’Neill).

His screeching about Republicans may have put a thrill up Matthew’s leg after all. And then Nelson even got a shout-out from the uber-lib blogger, Markos Moulitsas, of the DailyKos, who Tweeted:
I've never seen Ben Nelson speak so negatively about GOP.
It all depends on who he is speaking to, Markos. And depending on who he is raising money from, you probably haven’t seen or heard the last of Nelson yet.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Chatelain Memo: Part Deux

Leavenworth Street readers, we had to reassess our thoughts on this whole memo written by John Chatelain of the Mayor Suttle Recall Committee (MSRC).

We read the memo and believed that some major thought went into this thing, and thus there must be some other motive -- involved with the court case -- that put this thing into action.

But after listening to Chatelain on KFAB’s Tom Becka show (on 12/8 at 5pm), we are re-thinking it a little.  (By the way, in all this MSRC spokesman Jeremy Aspen comes off as the calm, rational one of the whole bunch.)

Instead of being some grand legal plan, we are more inclined to think that Chatelain is simply hurt, bitter and defensive about his dealings with Dave Nabity and the MSRC and decided to hit Nabity before Nabity hit him.

Dave Nabity made it pretty clear that he was extremely critical to Chatelain and had his own ideas about how the MSRC should be run.

So when it got out that Nabity was putting together his own organization to support the recall, Chatelain, Pat McPherson and Jim Cleary got out in front of it with the memo.

In it they not only knocked Nabity for allegedly being heavy handed in his views about running the committee. But they also have essentially alleged that if there was any legal wrongdoing regarding the paid circulators, it is on Nabity.

Now, as we have said, unless the MSRC folks are very, very confident that they are going to win the court case AND the eventual January recall election, this was a very short-sighted bet.  And even worth the potential return?  Not sure we see it.

Sure it provides them some CYA if the court case goes against them. And it hits Nabity early as being over ambitious, or whatever.

But what if it simply gives the Anti-recallers ammo, or results in the tide turning against the recall?

Then it becomes bitter retribution that benefits only Jim Suttle.

We will know how this all turns out in a just a little over a month (potentially).

In the mean time, never a dull moment, eh?

**UPDATE Thurs evening**

From Jeremy Aspen of the Mayor Suttle Recall Committee:
Rg: Letter Issued by John Chatelain on December 8th, 2010
As a committee we want to clarify that the letter issued by John Chatelain on December 8th, to the press was not approved nor does it reflect the beliefs of the Mayor Suttle Recall Committee.  The opinions and facts as see through his eyes remain solely his.
We welcome any efforts that individuals or organizations may have or will contribute to our cause and moreover are honored by their participation.
As a committee we remain steadfast in our endeavor to recall the mayor.
The release was signed personally by the rest of the committee.

So there ya go.

Why the Chatelain Memo?

On Wednesday, Mayor Suttle Recall Committee (MSRC) Treasurer John Chatelain wrote an extensive memo criticizing the actions of David Nabity as they related to Nabity’s involvement with the MSRC.

The OWH and Nebraska Watchdog among others have couched this as a hit by Chatelain on Nabity’s Mayoral ambitions.

But is that all it is?

First, click here to read the entire memo.

(That is sort of crucial to this whole matter, and frankly in this day and age of terabyte drives, Wikileaks and the internet tubes, is there really any excuse for NOT posting the whole thing?

OK, we will assume you’ve read it, or will do so when you’re done reading this post.

So here are our assumptions for Why Chatelain Wrote the Memo:
1. He is so caught up in political gamesmanship that he didn’t care if he threatened the entire recall by displaying the dirty laundry for all to see.
2. He is positive that Judge Pete Bataillon is going to rule against them and throw out the signatures and he is covering his ass.
3. He is nervous about how Judge Bataillon will rule, so he is throwing Nabity under the bus with the hope that none of it will stick on the MSRC.
That’s what we’ve got.

So let us break them down.
(Go ahead, refill that coffee, because we are getting in thick.)


The idea behind #1 is that Chatelain is wildly upset by the idea that Nabity tried to kick him out of the organization that he “founded” and take it over himself. He is so enraged that he is willing to potentially risk the very recall, just so that Dave Nabity can’t use any benefits he derived from it in order to get himself elected Mayor.

That is pretty much the gist of the OWH’s article on this.

But does that make any sense?

Sure it’s all relatively accurate depending on your point of view, but where does that get Chatelain? He says Nabity tried to take over the MSRC and he needs to “out” that in order to save the “integrity” of the organization.

What integrity?

They’re trying to throw Jim Suttle out of the Mayor’s office. We get it. It is what it is. It is politics. There is no inherit integrity involved. They want someone else in. Fine.

But are we to understand that Chatelain and the rest are simply in favor of Anyone But Suttle after that? Of course not. They want their candidate to step in, and apparently that ain’t Nabity.

But what if it is? Who cares? There are no points for integrity in all of this.

And by the way, one could make a very easy argument that they never would have gotten enough signatures if Nabity hadn’t been proactive to help fund the whole thing.

So if there isn’t more to it, didn’t he just hand the Anti-Recallers and the Judge some juicy info to dig into. So we get that Chatelain has an axe to grind against Nabity, but again, where does writing this three page memo get them after that?

No where. And when you read all the rest of the arguments Chatelain put in the memo, you can see that there must have been another reason for this.


So what are the reasons behind #2 -- He is positive that Judge Pete Bataillon is going to rule against them and throw out the signatures and he is covering his ass.

Well, note that Chatelain -- an attorney -- goes to great lengths to talk about the outside groups that Nabity and his money brought in and how they were paid.

He talks about how Nabity “independently” hired Paul Jacobs of Citizens in Charge and how Jacobs would be paid. He then goes into some detail about how the “paid workers” would be paid. (Which paid workers isn’t clear.)

And of course, at the crux of the whole Anti-recallers court argument is how the circulators were paid.

So that gets us back to the reasoning on all this.

Does Chatelain think this is all going kerplooey and he wants to make the case that Nabity is all to blame and the MSRC is otherwise clean as the fallen snow?

Man, if that’s the case, he must REALLY be sure about his position. Because otherwise it would seem like he just threw out some ammo for Vince Powers (unless of course Powers already has this info, and will succeed with it).


Then there is #3 -- He is nervous about how Judge Bataillon will rule, so he is throwing Nabity under the bus with the hope that none of it will stick on the MSRC.

If we had to bet, this is where we would put our cash. This is probably the argument they will make in their defense on the issue, if it is deemed that there was some sort of untoward payments going on. “It wasn’t the MSRC! Nabity did it!”

And then if they are successful in court, they can attempt to point to Nabity to say, “And HE almost screwed it up! Don’t vote for him!”

Now whether that part of the argument is true or not, that’s really a branch of #1 above. They might get that out of #3, but we would be very surprised to discover that #1 is the only reason for the memo.


So while the political intrigue is much more juicy in all of this, we think it is really based in the MSRC’s legal argument on December 20th.

So when the Judge rules, crank your hearing aides towards any mention of Citizens in Charge, what they did, and how they were paid.

There is a decent chance that the whole argument turns on that.

And then we can come back to the Chatelain Memo to see what he really meant.

**UPDATE-Dec 9**

Folks, in order to understand this even better, I think you need to listen to Nabity, Chatelain and Aspen on Tom Becka from last night.

Click here to go to Becka's podcast page -- you can also just click "Listen" to hear it.

Nabity is on the second half of the 4pm one, but then mainly listen to the 5pm one to hear Chatelain and Aspen as well.

After listening (we didn't hear it last night) we are inclined to change our views on all this, a bit.

We will have another post up later.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Thinking about it

A few interesting notes from the story in the OWH about whether or not Ben Nelson will run for reelection in 2012.

First various talkers predicted (as no doubt directed) that Ben will run again. Then again, Tony Raimondo also told us way back when that he would be a lifelong Republican, so take it for what it’s worth.

But then note the names Robynn Tysver listed as being interested in a Senate bid, along with Bruning, Flynn and Stenberg: State Auditor Mike Foley and Rep Jeff Fortenberry.

Now we are still of the belief that either Foley or Fortenberry may run, but not both.

So for one, the fact that either is listed means that there is still some serious consideration going on.

However, we and many other had pretty much marked Fort off the list. Well, that is unless Nelson decides not to run in 2012. In which case the floodgates may open, and someone like Fortenberry would be much more likely to run.

And again, the fact that the OWH printed that each of those two is interested means that there is some serious consideration by each.

Not to mention, who the OWH may back.


Then there was Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle on his media kvetching tour -- first there was Channel 6, then KFAB, and now his woe-is-me to the OWH.

And who is really taking the brunt of this Recall business? Well, the Mayor says, that would be his nine-year-old grandson. (Of course maybe the Mayor should direct Sonny towards Captain Underpants instead of the blogs.)

But here is an idea: Shouldn’t the Mayor resign now, instead of subjecting the boy to all this pain and anguish?

(Hey, he invoked his grandson, not us.)

And for Roget’s sake Aida, please hand the Mayor another cliché instead of “nose-to-the-grindstone”. He is giving worn-out phrases a bad name. Sounding like a broken-record. You get the picture.


And we are still hearing rumblings about the various candidates who may or may not get into the race, should the Mayor fall in January.

Of course many of the names are all based on whether or not the GOP Elephant in the room, Hal Daub, gets in or not.

If he is out, you will probably need a Rolodex to keep track of all the interested candidates.

Monday, December 06, 2010


Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy was featured in the New York Times last week in a story about the nation’s Lt. Governors.

Well kind of.

He was listed first anyway, and got the large photo, standing behind Governor Dave.

Sheehy’s chunk in the article was...
How does a lieutenant governor shake hands with the governor? He clasps firmly and extends two fingers up the governor’s sleeve to check for a pulse. “We teach that here,” said Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy of Nebraska, displaying the proper form. “I check the pulse of my governor every day. But my governor was a lieutenant governor, so he says stop.”
The story was about the country’s chief ribbon-cutters at the NLGA New Member - Executive Committee meeting that was held in Omaha -- and that most, if not all, members strive to one day be Governors themselves.

And though 2014 is a waaays off, we always like to throw it open to see who will be interested in this gig.

We have a few ideas.



The Washington Post political blog, The Fix, listed those U.S. Senators most likely to not run for re-election in the 2012 election.

And coming in at number five...Ben Nelson!

Chris Cillizza notes,
“Nelson will be 71 on Election Day 2012 and, given what he's up against, may decide to step aside.”

By the way, while Jon Bruning is gearing up, we still understand that the GOP lineup is far from closed. Don Stenberg is considered by many to be in, though we would note it isn’t clear who would run his camp.

We heard the name Rex Fisher thrown around as a candidate.

State Senator Deb Fischer of Valentine still may be interested, and may have some backing.

Then, of course, there is the only actual announced candidate , Pat Flynn.

And kids, there are some who believe that if there is a multi-multi-candidate primary, it may not be a cake-walk, or even favor, Jon Bruning.

Just what we hear.


And you will notice that, for the benefit of the non-Omahans, we are burying the Mayor Suttle Recall news at the bottom of this post! (Don’t say we never do anything for you.)

So the Mayor was on with KFAB’s Scott Voorhees this morning, and had a few interesting tidbits:

1) After Voorhees plead with the Mayor to have Vince Powers or the Forward Omaha folks return his calls, Suttle promised he would ask them to do so -- but only to Voorhees and not "some of his colleagues".

You will remember that KFAB’s Tom Becka, Gary Sadlemyer and Jim Rose all reportedly signed the petition to recall the Mayor.

So in other words, No Scoops for You!

2) And FWIW, the Mayor twice wished Voorhees “Merry Christmas” -- right smack in the middle of Hanukkah.

Oh vey.

3) And we will let others argue out whether the deposition statements of the circulator meant that he was being paid “by the signature”.

But we would only point out that it is purely plausible that the circulator was told that he needed to step up getting more signatures or he wouldn’t be hired-back for the next round. Now if that is illegal -- and we don’t think it is -- then maybe they have a case.  To an extent.

But we continually hear Vince Powers saying that it how clear it is that absolutely there is definitely fraud without a doubt, positively.

Overselling much there Vince?

Only two more weeks of this uncertainty!

Saturday, December 04, 2010


Just a quick post to say the signatures to Recall Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle have been officially counted.

They (semi) officially got 28,720 signatures, 2,077 more than the needed 26,643.

But the kicker in that sentence is "semi".

The semi is Judge Pete Bataillon's hearing on December 20th.

At that point we will hear if more than that 2,000 plus will be thrown out, or all of them, or nothing. And then that could be appealed.

And then it is not clear at what point the January 25th election could or would be pushed back, if they are cleared.

Note that the Anti's are also saying that they have deposed testimony that a circulator was paid by the sig. The Recallers say that claim is unfounded, mainly because no one was collecting the alleged 10 signatures per hour.  It's not clear how that could or would affect any count.

So gird your loins for some hot court action the next few weeks.


Oh, and Go Huskers!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Piping up

We have been watching the issue of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline with interest for the past number of months.

All along we have felt that we have been hearing from only one side on this issue, and have wondered about it.

The state group, Bold Nebraska, run by avowed Democrat and leftist, Jane Fleming Kleeb, has been the main bunch pushing against the pipeline. And of course whenever they would round up their group of “experts”, they always came from the standard set of environmental groups who frown on anything hinting of an internal combustion engine.

(And whenever you can get testimony on pipeline technology and groundwater from a Fox News talking head from Florida who was recently elected to the Hastings School Board, you do it, right?)

Well, Bold Nebraska and the rest showed their cards this week, and we can now see what their REAL beef with the pipeline is.

They hate oil and everything about it.

How do we know this?

Check out their first official TV spot on the pipeline.

Note that it is paid for by the “No Tar Sands Oil Coalition”.
Note their website is “Dirty Oil Sands .org”.
Note their emphasis over and over about how “dirty” the oil would be.

What does the cleanliness of oil have to do with a potential leak? Nothing of course.

But all we have heard in the past number of months is, oh this will blow up like the Gulf spill and will contaminate the Aquifer!

Except none of that is supported by science.

You’ve got the scientists from the hearing at the capitol in Lincoln on Wednesday who said that anything that went into the Aquifer could not do any widespread contamination.

And then there was the testimony that the pipeline would be (of course) the most advanced version of a pipeline in existence.

And then there was (thank Gaia) the point made that an above-ground or shallow-buried pipeline would be NOTHING like what is in the freaking Gulf. That was an oil platform in the middle of the sea that ran 5,000 freaking feet down. DOWN. Not a pipe across the prairie.

So sure we understand the NIMBY factor from anyone who has something they don’t understand go across their land. But when people then go on to say that the state should not take “any chances” with a pipeline, well. Then what about the pipelines that run across the rest of the state? Or those across the rest of the country, or the world? By that logic shouldn’t ALL of them be shut down?

Well, if Jane Kleeb and her minions had their way that is exactly what would happen.

Instead of getting badly needed oil -- needed to run pretty much every engine in the country -- from neighboring ally Canada, they would rather we get it from the Mideast or dictators like Chavez? Windmills are awesome and all that, but they aren’t going to run a tractor, let alone a jet engine, any time soon.

Let us finally quote UNL hydro-geologist, Jim Goecke -- who specializes in the Sandhills and its aquifers:
"When people say the whole Ogallala Aquifer is at risk, they're wrong.”
And that is the case no matter how many scare tactic ads the Sierra Club and Bold Nebraska run.