Monday, March 16, 2009

Maddening March

We will start this week of March Madness (and NIT Noodling), with a little Separated at Birth:

Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy and Kansas Jayhawks basketball coach, Bill Self.


Nebraska State Treasurer Shane Osborn had an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, Nebraska Sets the Standard on Government Accountability.

In it, he talks about the website that he put together --, which lets you track how Nebraska tax dollars are being spent. Osborn's site has been featured in a number of other places, for a couple of reasons:

One, as Osborn puts it, "As an elected official, the least we can do is give the taxpayers a receipt for the money we took from them." Two, it only cost $38,000 to put it together. Gauge that number against other states that have spent $500,000 to $1,000,000 on similar sites.

Now here's an interesting follow up on this. Nebraska State Senator Tom White -- who is constantly pimping his campaign website, introduced LB16, in order to force a website similar to the Nebraska State Treasurer's.

White contends that his bill adds in items (like tax-credits for businesses) that Osborn's doesn't have. However, White's bill doesn't cover nearly the amount of different information that the State Treasurer's site already has. 

So if the bill passes, will Osborn be obligated to get rid of things like Nebraska’s revenue sources for each fiscal year or the historical data associated with that? Can Osborn enhance the site, as we understand he plans to do, beyond what the bill says?

Now that's not to say that the site can't be improved. And it probably isn't a horrible idea to have a legislative mandate to have such a site.  But shouldn't it at least recoginize that there already IS such a site, and that you just want to make it better. Hmm, how to do that?

Well if White's proposal is almost exactly the same as the website that is already up, certainly he must have conferred with Osborn and his staff to discuss what Osborn could use to make it a better site. Or to see how the bill could be drafted to make it better for Nebraskans. Or to, just see what's up with the plan and where it's going.


Ya mean White is just grandstanding to try to position himself for the next office to run for? Oh. Got it.


We chuckled at the OWH reporter Robynn Tysver's story the other day about Jim Vokal's campaign strategy. The headline of the story was, "Voters to assess Vokal advertising strategy". Really? That's what voters do?

"I really like that Hal Daub fella, and think he would be the best to lead the city...but darn it, I just don't care for his ad strategy. So Randy Brown it is."

We coulda swore that voters look at a candidate's positions on the issues and make a judgment about what's best for the city. Now we are to understand that voters are all about when the candidate went on the air and looked at how much they spent.

Yeah, yeah, we get the analysis. But here's the thing. The headline (at least) is extremely poor if this is supposed to be a "news" story. The fact that the OWH doesn't have a full-time political columnist makes this kind of story necessary -- if they want to discuss it. But it comes across a bit ham-fisted when the OWH reporter writes, "Vokal's financial disadvantage doesn't mean it's over..."

Doesn't mean it's over?? The candidate is already running his third ad and can argue that he is in a better spot than his other city-councilman rival, Jim Suttle (as the CW is that Hal Daub is in the Primary lead). If you make it all the way to the end of the story, you'll see Doug Parrot provide that spin. (Man, Parrott is so in the bag for Vokal...).

But before that, you have to endure the Democrat line of "He (Vokal) rolled the dice and came up short." Well, that's an interesting post-election analysis. But three weeks out, it's just a little pre-mature.

This makes for a nice column. News story? Not so much.


There have been a number of comments on the boards the last few days about Lee Terry staff or whatnot lunching with Jim Vokal a city council candidate's staff and this and that about Who Supports Whom. (Note correction. -SS)

Well, we've gotten it from one of the highest sources in Terry Corp. that Rep. Terry supports all the Republican candidates, and does not and will not be showing favoritism to any one candidate. While individuals can certainly do so -- and they all certainly will when they vote -- Congressman Terry is staying very much neutral among the Republicans up for office.

So there ya go.

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Anonymous said...

Once again, here comes Street Sweeper to the rescue, arguing Jim Vokal's talking points so Vokal doesn't have to.

Street Sweeper said...

Once again, there's a commenter attacking the messenger.

(Wow, didn't see THAT coming..)

Anonymous said...

Not a problem. Vokal's star is falling.

Street Sweeper said...

And I can appreciate partisan support and all that -- but if you're going to take the time to post a comment, at least give some backing evidence or whatever else to your statement.

Anyone can type, "Mort's the Man!" -- but the astute political will add "...because he's sneaky like a Ninja and is personally hacking to do directed G-mail."

Try again.

Anonymous said...

When Vokal was running his TV ads, voters were not paying attention. Now that they are, he is broke and won't be able to buy television at nearly the same rate as either Suttle or Daub.

It's not even really the fact that Vokal will barely have enough money to stay on television that hurts him. It's the fact that he's not going to have money to do anything else. And Suttle and Daub will.

We all saw Vokal's poll, and he didn't separate himself nearly enough from Suttle to justify spending $60K in January on television. Now he can barely afford TV, he can't afford mail, and his field campaign will be basically nonexistent.

Very few voters have made up their minds right now - and Suttle had the right strategy, waiting until voters are really tuned in to spend heavily on TV.

Anonymous said...

Tom White's bill simply protects taxpayers by making a transparency website a requirement in statute.

His bill has bipartisan support - it was prioritized by the Executive Committee, which is made up of two Democrats and eight Republicans.

Anonymous said...

Why would Street Sweeper think he/she knows who Osborn's staff are or aren't meeting with?

Anonymous said...

Yes it's funny that he doesn't mention whenever he pushes his bill.

You would think he would point out that such a site already exists, since he's just in it for the good governance.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:56,

Interesting question. Is Sweeper in the Treasurer's Office? We know he has stockpiled Republican activists for his future political needs.

Street Sweeper said...

"stockpiled Republican activists"?

Don't look in my basement!

Anonymous said...

Um, individuals from Terry's staff can support anyone they like, but Lee Terry is staying out of it?

I certainly hope that all of his staff takes vacation time while they are meeting for coffees and lunches with Blumenthal during their Terry-working hours. I'd hate my tax dollars going to fund their campaigning for other candidates while they're SUPPOSED TO BE WORKING FOR LEE TERRY AND THE 2ND DISTRICT CONSTITUENTS! Isn't that against the law?

Street Sweeper said...

First of all, I will edit what I wrote above -- as I don't think there's any implication that a Vokal staffer was involved. I apologize for that mix-up.

Second, again, I have been informed that the "meeting" everyone seems to be referring to, was actually a public, social gathering amongst personal friends (including their kids).

Anonymous said...

Prediction...anyone who has Jordan managing their campaign finishes no better than 3rd in any race.

Anonymous said...

When are the pro-life endorsements coming? Most of the Republican voters are waiting for them to make their final decisions. I hope they do it before the primaries.

I'll wait to comment on who has the edge between Vokal/Daub, but Stothert and Buescher are probably out.

Anonymous said...

...and they're left with a lot of burned bridges after following McGrain's perpetual 'scorched earth' strategy.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah, riiiii-ghhht. Gotcha. That was a social gathering. During work hours. On a weekday morning. Again, did Terry give all his staff vacation time during that meeting?

Klev said...

Anon 11:19: Single-issue voters are so 2000. Please evolve.

Anderson said...

does anyone know how much tom white's website will cost our taxpayers?

Isn't osborne's website already paid for? Why do we need two?

Anonymous said...

To Anon 10:59 -- yes, how dare a republican politician line up republican activists to help him win an election.

The nerve of some people.

Anonymous said...

Gov. Tinymannn wants to be a Senator, Osborn wants to be a Governor. Who is doing the grandstanding? Hard to pass up FREE publicity.

aligner said...

One of the (many)reasons people don't consider getting into politics is that when you do good work, people think you're 'grandstanding,' for the next higher office. The other 95% of the people can't name which city council district they live in. At least in the private sector, there is some sort of meritocracy. In politics, you seem to be rewarded for just keeping your head down and staying out of trouble.

Street Sweeper said...

Just curious: which do you consider "grandstanding"?

Developing an innovative and relatively inexpensive website for people to use?

Or ripping off someone else's idea and slapping your name on it?

Anonymous said...

It's hardly original to either White or Osborn. The bill is model legislation pushed by ALEC, Americans for Tax Reform, and others. Don't think for a second that Osborn came up with this on his own.

Street Sweeper said...

Well, of course he didn't. (And if he did, I don't believe his was first in any case.) But Osborn's site DOES exist. The fact that the current bill, and its drafter, essentially ignore that fact shows that White's plan is publicity stunt.

Anonymous said...

Speaker Mike Flood and a Republican-dominated legislative committee prioritized the bill. Bipartisan work for accountability is not a publicity stunt.

A publicity stunt is a WSJ op-ed.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 11:19

Both Stothert and Buescher will be endorsed by the right to life organizations.

Other than NRTL, those organizations do not choose one pro life candidate over another. They endorse all pro-life candiates.

Anonymous said...

NRTL only endorses the Pro Life incumbent in a race, even if other candidates are solid Pro-Life.

Anonymous said...

Fiscal note on White's bill says it could cost up to 200k. I'd hate to see 200k go to a site that is already out there.

Anonymous said...

"There have been a number of comments on the boards the last few days about Lee Terry staff or whatnot lunching with Jim Vokal a city council candidate's staff and this and that about Who Supports Whom. (Note correction. -SS)"

Did Jordan McGrain lie to you, too, Street Sweeper? What's the story?

Anonymous said...

sorry, copy/paste didn't work... Jim Vokal's name in the above should be crossed out.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't make much sense for Osborn to use the WSJ for a publicity stunt.

It does make sense if it was either:

1. Sincere and for the public good.

2. Meant to be read by and impress big money DONORS and tax advocates for his next run.

I suppose that could be argued for pushing it on a website or in an editorial.

Anonymous said...

If you're trying to tell me that Buescher is more pro-life than Maxwell, then I'd really like to show you this bridge I have for sale (it crosses the Missouri and is named Bridge Bob!).

Buescher might check all the right boxes on the questionnaire, but that doesn't make you pro-life. Any pro-lifer with half a brain is going to be voting for Maxwell.

Anonymous said...

anon 10:28

Are you kidding? Pro-life is pro -life. If they'd vote the same on the issues, they are a pro-life candidate.

NRTL doesn't come out and say "Although they had the same answers, we feel candidate A is more pro-life than candidate b" The'y endorse both, and maybe a couple of other candidates as well.

Buescher is Pro-life...period. There is no one who can argue anything different.

What, does Chip think he owns the pro-life title all to himself? How arogant.

Pro Lifer with a Brain said...

I'm not voting for Maxwell because it didn't work hard, took for granted his County Board race and let a totalliberal win.

I've talked ith Buescher and it is obvious he is pro-life, and he has been working hard for this seat.

Maxwell had his shot and let it slip away. Someone else's turn now.

macdaddy said...

All you Anonys (or maybe just one Anony?) trying to swat Osborn for telling people about his website: What planet are you living on? Osborn publishes a government accountability website for less than 20% of what the legislature wants to spend on it, gets an op-ed in the WSJ and you are bitching and moaning because why? Let me guess, you must be one of those people who call the cops when your neighbor parks his car in front of your house or yells at the neighbor kids to get off your lawn. Good grief. Do you ever read what you wrote before you hit send?

Geosuser said...

Before you jump on that Buescher bandwagon, Anon 10:28 PM, you might want to educate yourself on who's running and backing his campaign. You are absolutely right that Maxwell underestimated his opponent in his last campaign...but you can bet he's not going to let the voters in the third district go uneducated/uninformed to the polls this time.

Pro Lifer with a Brain said...


Is this another vailed threat of an attack by Maxwell on Buescher? To think Maxwell would do that after Buescher tried to help rescue Maxwell last fall.

Simply put, without Brian Buescher, that last mail response for Maxwell doesn't happen.

I've educated myself. Buescher is better on crime, better on spiking and pensions,will be better on taxes, and displays a better ability to work with others. He is Pro-Life too.

Factor in Maxwell mailed it in last election and the Buescher bandwagon is getting more and more full. Come join us!

Anonymous said...

Typical RINOs. You're ready to give up your principles just because you don't think the real conservative can win. If that is your thought, then we have already lost.

Geosuser said...

What makes you think it's going to be Maxwell, prolife w/o brains (aka Jordan)??? Practicing lawyers running for their first public office need serious looks and the voters need to know.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious...

Who is the Rino?

Anonymous said...


Now someone is threatening both Buescher and Jerram. Well, those are the two only candidates with enough money to effectivly attack anyone. I'm pretty sure they know a desperate attack like that, by them in the primary, will sink their campaign in a hurray.

So, who has no money, and is very desperate?? Initials J.F. sounds about right.

Anonymous said...

there are pro-life candidates and then there are PRO-LIFE candidates. the difference is people who will vote right and people who are warriors. put simply, maxwell is the warrior. and for that reason, true-believers will stay true to him.

and to the "evolve" comment. it is not that pro-life voters are really one issue. we care about many issues, but when we vote for candidates, we believe that if they can't get the most fundamental question - the sanctity of human life - then we cannot trust their filter or judgment on other issues.