Monday, March 23, 2009

OWH endorses Vokal and Daub

In their Sunday editorial, the Omaha World Herald endorsed Hal Daub and Jim Vokal for the April 7th Mayoral Primary. The OWH didn't pick between Daub and Vokal, however.

Of Vokal, the OWH says:
Vokal has shown himself to be a level-headed, dedicated two-term councilman. Although he is a Republican and Mayor Mike Fahey is a Democrat, Vokal hasn’t indulged in small-minded partisan game-playing. On the contrary, he has encouraged productive, respectful relations between the City Council and the Mayor’s Office.

That is the type of mature, nonpartisan leadership Omaha needs.

Vokal has a background in finance and real estate, and he approaches city management from the perspective of a practical businessman. He places particular emphasis on having city departments headed by managers with top-flight administrative skills. He is resolute in saying that the key to solving the city’s budget challenges lies in spending restraint.
Of Daub, they say:
He rightly notes that it was during his watch as may or that the groundwork was laid for many of the central strategic decisions from which Omaha is now benefiting, above all the Qwest Center and the river front development.

Although he is running for mayor this year at age 67, Daub displays the energy and mental sharpness of someone decades younger. Mention any facet of city government, and the ever-quick Daub replies with an analysis that is both knowledgeable and astute. That was the case in the mayoral debate on Wednesday.
However, the OWH does take one dig at Daub (which they did not against Vokal):
But does the Hal Daub of 2009 possess the diplomatic skills to bring people together? That is one of the key questions of this year’s mayoral contest, not least since Vokal earns high marks for pursuing constructive cooperative relations.
And of Jim Suttle? They note:
A disappointment in Suttle’s mayoral run this year has been his overpromising statements about taxes.

His campaign literature states: “Jim will reduce property taxes by eliminating waste, modernizing city government and making more city services available.”

Yet when asked by The World-Herald about that statement, Suttle said he wasn’t necessarily promising to reduce the amount of taxes for any particular Omaha household. But if that’s the case, one wonders whether the English language — as in, “Jim will reduce property taxes” — still has any meaning at all.

Of course with the OWH's track record, this non-endorsement could be a boon for Suttle. He may blare it from a sound-truck rolling around the Qwest Center tonight, and voters may say, "Hmmm. The OWH hates him. That Jim Suttle just may be my guy...."

The other curious part about their endorsement is that it doesn't exactly help you when you go into the voting booth. Let's put it in a way the modern "voter" can understand:

The Mayoral Primary vote is "American Idol" style, not "Survivor" style. In other words, you're not voting someone out -- you're voting FOR someone, and the top to "For" votes go on to the General. So as much as you want to get rid of Sanjaya (here, Suttle), you'll just have to hope that your pro-Ruben Studdard (the combined weight of Daub and Vokal) vote gets you there.

And in all seriousness, you have to wonder if the endorsement for two Republicans will simply cause the GOP vote to be split and allow Suttle to sneak in. We actually don't think this will be the case, but there's an interesting argument to be made for it.


The OWH's editorial also referenced last Wednesday's Mayoral debate. If you really want to watch it (and you didn't catch it on Cox, because you have a life), you can get it at the Omaha Chamber of Commerce's web site.

Note: The first TEN minutes is a little "ad" for the young professionals and OWH columnist Robert Nelson attempting a nervous comedy routine. If you're the type inclined to watch this in the first place, feel free to skip to the ten minute mark.


On the flap regarding the who voted for or did not vote for a property tax increase last week, we promised a follow-up, and we will in about an hour or so. Come back in a bit.


As we had mentioned in an earlier post, in the Wednesday and Thursday debates Hal Daub repeatedly stated that, of the three candidates, he was the only one who lowered property taxes while in office.

Jim Vokal responded, indirectly, saying that he had always voted against raising property taxes during his eight years on the Council.

After the debate, the Daub camp made the following statement:
On September 21, 2001, Jim Vokal voted for a property tax increase. The vote, on Resolution #2430, raised our mill levy by 2 percent, from 42.523 to 43.387.
Councilman Chuck Sigerson bellowed back:
"To say that by certifying the budget, I'm voting for a tax increase is not only dishonest, it's a blatant lie".
The Vokal camp responded saying:
Mayor Fahey proposed a 1.5 increase. Council passed a budget with zero increase. Fahey put his increase back in. The issue came back to the Council the next week, and the Council was unable to over- ride the veto with Marc Kraft out of town. Vokal, Sigerson, Welch, and Thompson voted to override. Brown and Gernandt vote no.

The Council then passed the budget on a 6-0 vote, and the next week certified the tax rate to support the budget on a 7-0 vote, because state law says the Council is obligated to certify a budget and a tax rate and the city attorney recommended a positive vote.
So if the Council couldn't override the Mayor's veto, what happens? Those Council members, Vokal and Sigerson included, say that at that point their hands are tied, and they are stuck with the budget, so they just are voting, essentially, that there is a budget and a mil levy and there you go. But at that point, can they still do more?

The argument from Daub's perspective would go something like this:

The Council and Mayor still have an opportunity to hammer out a mutually acceptable budget before it even gets to the point of the final vote -- to set/accept/certify.

There would have been an opportunity to get to a point where there was a mutually acceptable budget. But the Council, including Vokal, ended up agreeing to accept the property tax increase. This is why the vote to set the tax rate is not merely a formality or technicality.

What it should be, but does not have to be, is a resolution that has already been “debated”. So a Council member could still vote “no” on the action to set the rate, but one would hope that the deal was worked out prior to the vote.


In the end, if no agreement for a lower mil levy could be agreed to, could or should the Council have dug in their heels and not voted for the increase? We're not sure what happens at that point -- a government shutdown or the like. And if it is "illegal" to not pass a budget (and mil levy), what happens? Do people go to jail?

Or the other question is, could Vokal (or the others) have voted, "present" or just had a minority vote "no" on the the budget and the property tax increase, as sort of a protest vote? If Vokal had done this, there would certainly be no question at this point.

So we leave it up to you to decide (if this matters to you) who did what or should have done which.


The other part of this is what makes the news and how this is portrayed.

Daub says he's a tax-cutter and that Vokal is a tax raisers. Vokal says he is a tax protecter, and that "same ol' Hal Daub" is playing politics with the facts. 

We will say this: Vokal wants to egg Daub into arguments like this -- where it can look like Hal is being "negative". Especially in something where people may or may not understand the voting procedures (and Sigerson helps Vokal on this). 

Daub on the other hand can argue that Vokal isn't doing what he says, and can do his best to let others take the fall on any perceived negatives. So it will be interesting to see how both sides play this issue, if it becomes one of the main points of the campaign.

Vokal will/should say:
"Hal, you know that Dan Welch and Chuck Sigerson and I all voted against raising property taxes, and that the final vote was simply procedural. You're lying about my record for politics sake, and Omahans are tired of that. I have been and will continue to be against property tax increases."
Daub will/should say:
"Jim, I respectfully disagree with your position that your vote to increase property taxes for Omahans was procedural. But be that as it may, we can both agree that I am the only candidate who actively lowered Omahan's property taxes while in office. And that is a record that has benefited Omahans, and I hope to continue that work as their next Mayor."
Or some such.

And Suttle? He's in favor of "jobs", or something.


Inflated Resume said...

Hey Sweeper have you seen the Blumenthal piece touting his experience as a "driving force in Omaha's economic development". Any comments?

Anonymous said...

Good lord, will you stothert and blumenthal people go away!

Anonymous said...

One again, Jim Vokal trying to have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

I think this time the Stothert people have a legitimate gripe. Blumenthal's statement is more than an exaggeration, it's a fabrication. He should be held accountable for what he is telling the voters about his record.

Anonymous said...

So I guess that's a "no" and you will not go away.

Anonymous said...

You Stothert people need to get a grip on reality. The voters don't care about this and nobody in District 5 reads this blog!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Sweeper,

What's up with the police union ad against Vokal? Thoughts?

Street Sweeper said...

"nobody in District 5 reads this blog"???

Now wait a cotton-pickin' minute...

Anonymous said...

Hey, I live in District 5 and read this blog. We used to have a Blumenthal sign in our front yard -- not any more. We took it down on Friday after this bit of news came out.

Not in the know said...

Ok, did I miss something???? What did Jon Blumenthal do?

Anonymous said...

Jim Vokal trying to "have it both ways"??? Jeez, imagine that.

Anonymous said...

So is Jon Blumenthal going to recant his statement???

Anonymous said...

Have you researched this Blumenthal allegation Sweeper?

Street Sweeper said...

In case you missed it, there's a 1,500 word post that we wrote.

Feel free to comment on it.

Anonymous said...

So we give Blumenthal a pass on him distorting his resume??? I see how it is. Any candidate that uses Jordan McGrain gets a pass.

Street Sweeper said...

There are many issues in the various campaigns that we have not touched upon. I don't believe there's any urgency on this particular matter, even though you're all hot and bothered about it.

And while you obviously are dying to talk about this, we didn't write about it today.

Pol Observer said...

I read the Blumenthal mail piece. It is over the top!!! It basically puts Jon Blumenthal in the same league as Walter Scott, David Sokol, Hal Daub and the Lauritzen's all while Jon Blumenthal was a first year law student in Lawrence, Kansas. If the press picks up on this his council bid is over.

Anonymous said...

Uh, something tells me that the Stothert folks are trying like mad to get the press to pick up on this and the press doesn't give a care.

Anonymous said...

Come on people, this is Leavenworth Street. Thou shalt not speak badly of Lee Terry, Jim Vokal, John Blumenthal, OR Jordan McGrain. No matter how much the truth hurts!

Anonymous said...

A pretty even-handed analysis, Sweeper.

Laughing out loud said...

The Press doesn't care Stothert supporters, we win!!!!! What makes you so mad Stothert fans is we both know the truth and the public doesn'

Street Sweeper said...

Hey kids, you can reasonably speak about the politics of anyone or anything you want to here. That's always been clear, so lighten up. We would prefer you address the topic we've put up, but YOU can talk about something else if you're absolutely dying to.

But as much as you're trying to hijack this thread on your issue-du-jour, WE prefer to run the asylum. Thanks.

Just wondering said...

So Sweeper is Blumenthal's inflated resume not newsworthy???

Street Sweeper said...

If you're wondering if we're going to update today's post to address your burning issue, the answer is: Nope.

Just wondering said...

I didn't ask you to update the post. I asked you if the issue is newsworthy!!

Anonymous said...

It's Newsworthy!!!!

Street Sweeper said...

Brother. I suppose it may or may not. If Stothert (or Blumenthal) camps wants to send us something, we'd be happy to look at it.

(By the way, you also might want to alert the MSM...)

3rd floor watcher said...

You are the Mainstream Media Sweeper!!!!!

Street Sweeper said...

I think the paper, radio and TV stations may differ. As would I...

3rd floor watcher said...

We are waiting for the weather and Jays

Street Sweeper said...

Weather will change.

Guarantee the Jays will win the Valley next year.

Anonymous said...

and Jim Vokal will be in third place!!!!

Anonymous said...

"Some people think I'm nuts"- Hal Daub

- on joe jordan's blog

Anonymous said...

Booker Woodfox is gonna have a tornado of three pointers against Kentucky politics now...its all about the Jays baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

GO JAYS! Kickin' a#% in the House That Daub Built!

Anonymous said...

with the Daubinator IN THE HOUSE. I saw him myself. posting this from an iphone. GO BLUEJAYS!

Anonymous said...

such a shame

bigblue said...

GO CATS! What a great game.

Ricky said...

I am waiting with much curiosity to see how the April 7th Primary turns out.
It could be any two of the three that go on.

One would think that one of the Republicans would get eliminated.

But I will predict this: if Jimmy V makes it to the general, David Sokol would think it unwise that he snubbed Vokal with a lousy $500 contribution while lavishing 10 grand on both Mr Daub and Mr Suttle.
So if Jimmy V makes it past April, he can expect a Sokol contribution.
If I were Jimmy V, I would reject the money. That way he won't be indebted to the MECA Chair; and he can then refuse to re-appoint Sokol to the MECA board.

Ricky From Omaha

Ricky said...

And one more thing: A sad ending to the Bluejays game.

Justin Carter stole the ball with half a minute to go, got fouled, but missed two free throws and the Jays with a one point lead.

Kentucky scored a basket with seconds to play and the Jays lost when Woodfoxs' three at the buzzer missed.

I feel bad for Carter, he had a good game up till then.


Street Sweeper said...

Carter had a GREAT game. Played fantastic D, rebounded, hit 3s. He just spent too long standing on the FT line at the end, w/o the ball. Thought about it too long.

Thanks for the season Jays!

Anonymous said...

The Blumenthal cover-up continues!!!

Anonymous said...

I can just imagine Jon Blumenthal in contracts class 15 years ago at KU Law school daydreaming how he was going to be a "driving force" for omaha's economic growth. How Kleebesque!!!

bob said...

SS, that is a nice shot of Daub doing the macarena.

Anonymous said...

Is anybody going to write about the police union's latest attack ad?

Street Sweeper said...

"Anybody"? Yes we are working on it.

Unfortunately, actual work (the stuff salaries are made of) keeps getting in the way. (Stupid paycheck!)

Possibly by the end of the day. More likely for tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I haven't heard it. Radio? TV? Who do they "attack"?

Anonymous said...

Saw the Vokal. All it attacks is his hypocrisy. Seems Vokal continues to want it both ways. He just can't handle being exposed publicly. So tired of candidates who think we are just plain stupid and that we are all in the dark. Let the light shine in.

Just wondering said...

Still waiting for Blumenthal to explain how he was a "Driving Force" in Omaha's economic development when he was a 21 or 22 year old KU law student 15 years ago. Some people in the Omaha Chamber now want to know too!!!!

We Want the Truth said...

Another day, another mailer with misinformation from Blumenthal.

Says in a mailer today he is "the only candidate for city council to refuse money or endorsements from the fire and police unions."

That is a load of bull. Blumenthal went through the complete process for both endorsements. Questionnaires and video taped interviews.There is documentation to prove it!

He never mentioned a word about not taking money until after the endorsements were out...and he didn't get them. Never mentioned not accepting endorsements until much later.

Release your police and fire union surveys Jon Blumenthal. Let the world see!!!

Al said...

Who cares what the World-Herald thinks, it's an obsolete media outlet with declining circulation and influence.

Anonymous said...

Hell, you could take the mailer and replace Jon Blumenthal with Jim Vokal. One of them should feel short changed because they are basically running the same campaign. Oh wait, yeah they have the same campaign manager.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, is Jon Blumenthal getting a discount from Jordan McGrain? It seems he just gets the old scraps from Jim Vokal's mailers. Nothing original there.

Don Kuhns said...

Shorter Omaha World Herald:

We don't care which mayoral candidate you vote for, as long as he's a Republican.

I'm shocked, just shocked.