Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Police Union still hates Vokal

The Omaha Police Officers Association took another jab at Jim Vokal this week -- this time in a TV ad entitled, "Omaha needs leaders not politicians".

See it here:

The ad is running on KETV and cable for a relatively small buy of 200 GRPs over the next two weeks.

But lets back up to the two mailers that the Police Union sent out a few weeks back. Remember those? The ones that were done totally because the Union was just concerned about public safety votes? That's what the Union said, right? OK, let's go ahead and throw that argument into the crapper.

The Police Union has spelled out in this ad that they're pissed at Vokal for suggesting that they take a smaller percentage of their pay for their pension payment, as well as the spiking issue that Vokal says he will address if elected.

But the basis of this ad is on the first screen statement (and thanks for the handy sub-titles, video production person. Doesn't get any more basic than that, eh?): "Jim Vokal voted twice to increase police pensions and reduce the age of retirement."

We asked the Vokal camp for a response to this and here's what we got:
Jim Vokal voted against the fire contract that passed the council. He voted for the most recent police contract after the police union threatened a potential million-dollar lawsuit against the city to receive the same benefits as the firefighters received. The police contract would have passed with or without his vote.

Regardless, no member of the city council voted to “increase police pensions” as the ad claims. The pensions are increasing because of spiking and abuse of overtime by police retirees.

Limiting overtime is the management responsibility of the mayor and police chief, not a contractual issue, and as mayor Jim will get overtime and pension spiking under control.
Now, you be the judge whether you think Vokal is trying to have it both ways on this issue. The other side would likely argue that he should own up to the vote, before coming up with a new plan.


But the interesting political part here, isn't so much the issue itself, as the Police Union's tactics.

How much of this is simply a vendetta by Police Union President Aaron Hanson against Vokal?

Well, during contract negotiations back in April of 2008, the Police Union proposed that retired officers get as much as 99% of their base pay. Vokal, in the OWH, said:
"Shocked is an understatement when I saw the latest offer from the police union. It's way out of line. It's not the direction we should be going."
In the Omaha Police Union's newsletter, The Shield, Hanson then had this to say:

On Tuesday April 8th, two members of the city council, Chuck Sigerson and Jim Vokal, took the unprecedented step of revealing a confidential union contract offer to the City of Omaha.

Their premature rush to judgment and poorly thought out inflammatory public statements were potentially very damaging to any future good-faith attempts at collaboration to address our pension-funding dilemma. 
Their antics make it hard to have any confidence that these two councilmen, once considered good friends to Omaha Police officers, could ever be engaged in trust-based good-faith negotiations with us ever again.

It isn’t the fact they disagreed with our concepts that has served to damage our past good relationship and trust, a lot of politicians do that from time to time, but rather the purely political and self serving manner in which they disagreed that makes it so unforgivable.
(emphasis ours.)

So there you go. Message sent. If you cross the Union, they will come at you with guns blazing (as it were).


In case you missed it, the OWH did their first in a series of "profiles" on the Omaha Mayoral candidates -- beginning with Hal Daub.

The piece made us scratch our heads a little. The article makes a glancing reference to Daub's work as Mayor to put the Qwest Center and other projects in place, and lists his resume, but otherwise concentrates on the old adage that Daub is "argumentative". That's pretty much it.

And to pump that, they make Daub admit that he's "passionate", and then quiz Lee Terry about Daub's personality and dig up former Councilman Lormong Lo from Arkansas to say the same thing.

Don't talk about what his experience can do. Don't feature how his work on Ways and Means helps him to better understand the tax code. Just that he's "fundamentally the same guy that Omahans either love or loathe."

Well, that was awfully helpful, eh?


And last but not least, here is a Separated at Birth suggested to us by a reader:

Democrat State Senator Bill Avery of Lincoln, and the old guy from the upcoming Pixar movie, "Up".

State Senator Scott Lautenbaugh is working on a bill in the Legislature these days to exempt cigar bars from the general ban on smoking in public places. There aren't a lot of people who like smoke in their faces while they are trying to eat, or watch a game or whatever.

But hey, when you're in a cigar-freaking-bar, it is expected that there will be, oh maybe CIGAR SMOKE in there, right? It's pretty much in the name of the place. You're in a grocery store, you're going to smell groceries. You're in a Law Office, you're going to smell gas. It's understood.

So, along with the fact that it seems outright un-American that a bill under the misused rubric of "public safety" or whatever they're claiming is putting businesses out of business, this law seems to be hitting the wrong type of place.

Well, don't tell that to Senator Avery. Here's Avery's "screw you cigar bars!" argument, according to the OWH:
But opponents said the bill would leave cigar bar employees subject to secondhand smoke and invite other groups to seek additional exemptions to the smoking ban.

"We open the door to cigar bars and pretty soon we don’t have a smoking ban," said Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln.
Senator, here's a job-tip: Don't like the smell of hogs? Don't apply at the rendering plant. Blood turns you off? Don't bother dropping that resume at the hospital. Cigar smoke is a problem? Maybe...just shouldn't be working at the cigar bar.

Hopefully the next time you do open the door to a cigar bar, you get a blast from a Macanudo.


Anonymous said...


3rd floor watcher said...

Those waitresses at Cigarro's are not suffering any ill effects from the smoke. I always notice they have a healthy set of Lungs!!! Go get em Senator Scott!

Anonymous said...

Is it the healthy set of lungs you notice or what sits on top of them?

Anonymous said...

If Jordan McGrain had his way in November, Lautenbagh would not be here.

Scott Lautenbaugh said...

Thank you for the support. While this won't really change lives, I do feel like we're stealing back a sliver of freedom from those who seek ever-expanding limits on and control over our lives. They don't give up ground very easily.

Street Sweeper said...

I don't know Scott. I think shutting down someone's business could certainly change their life.

Viva freedom!

Scott Lautenbaugh said...

Jordan was doing his job -- nothing more. No ill-will (toward Jordan) here. We all need to move on sometimes.

Anonymous said...

hey Sweeper, who is the police union using as a "consultant" to attack Vokal in print and on the air, since Jordan is working FOR Vokal?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
3rd floor watcher said...

Sweeper take that link down!!!!!!!! 24 hour comment moderation, Never!!!!!!

Street Sweeper said...

We've deleted the comment above only to make the point that we have a general "no-linking" policy. This makes it so we don't have to decide between a good link and a bad link and so this doesn't become a place for people to come and pimp their website.

If you have a site you would like us to publicize or talk about, send us an email and we'll consider it.

All that being said, if you go to the "Omaha's Next Mayor" site, which seems to be non-partisan (let me know if I'm wrong), you can write stuff, or something. -SS

Geosuser said...

The police union won a big victory before the court of industrial relations when they were able to convince the court of the union's choice of "comparable" cities. While I admire the work done by both the police and fire departments, it's time for the next Mayor or city council to look for some "radical" alternatives when it comes to dealing with their compensation and benefits. There are cities where the fire department functions have been "privatized". City employee pension plans have been ended and replaced with the equivalent of 401(k) plans. Omaha needs to do the same. Plus the staff size of the Mayor's office has become bloated and top-heavy. That deserves a major budget reduction. Is any of this likely to happen? Ask any of the mayoral or city council candidates before voting day then you'll know for sure the probability is zero.

Anonymous said...

Geosuser -- what staff in the Mayor's office would you propose eliminating?

Anonymous said...

When does Aaron Hanson reach early retirment age and how soon after will he be running for public office while collecting his 90%+ retirement pay?

Geosuser said...

Everyone except a couple of secretaries/assistants to handle mail, phones and schedule.

Anonymous said...

Oh, okay, Geosuser, that's reasonable..... @@

Anonymous said...

Jim Vokal is saying spiking is the responsibility of the Mayor and Chief of Police. Then why is he not attacking the Mayor for his failures.

Second - It is easy to claim there was a threat of a lawsuit, but checking every available news source and other sources, there is NO indication the Police threatened to sue. Once again the Vokal camp is not constrained by the truth.

Third - the police have been very clear they want to stop spiking. The were on TV and radio for about 2 weeks stating this. Unfortunately for Jim "two-faced" Vokal, the truth of the union position does not help his attempt to deceive the voters.

Jim Vokal - own up and be a man and take responsibility for your vote.

As for the police hating Vokal - I think they hate hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

If the police truly want to end spiking, there is nothing stopping them from asking to voluntarily amend the contracts.

They'd rather play politics and use taxpayer money to fund their attacks against Vokal.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12:58. Your so full of it. The Police Union is using their own money to run the ads. Furthermore, Jim Vokal could have ended spiking through the management side and cut overtime. JIM VOKAL took the Tainted Fire Union money and refuses to give it back. He will say anything to be mayor.

aligner said...

Regardless of what you think of Jim Vokal or anybody else, the Police Union is going to spend their money against whomever they think will not give them what they want. Are they against hypocrisy? Certainly if its against their best interests. But if someone sat on the council and voted against spiking and then changed their mind. . .that's the kind of change they can believe in.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:18 -

The city council cannot end spiking. "Your" wrong.

And, the police are using (mostly) union dues to run the ads. Union dues come from union members who are paid by the city from tax dollars. Ergo...

Tom Becka was right by saying the union should just use their money for the reward fund instead of this nonsense. What a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Jon Blumenthal melted down at the Millard Business Association forum tonight.

It doesn't seem like he can handle the heat.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:23 - - by "melting down", do you mean clearly outperforming Stothert yet again?? Because that was the story coming out of the room.

Too funny - - considering that Stothert literally started crying to everybody in the room at the Elephant Remembers dinner because "everybody thinks Blumenthal is the better candidate."

Anonymous said...

yup I read Stothert's massive endorsement list.....Everybody supports

Anonymous said...

No, I think we mean Blumenthal so agitated he was talking 100 miles an hour, mentioning Stothert a half dozen times, misrepresenting documented facts, changing his story about the police and fire endorsements...again, not wanting to answer a question posed by an audience member to the entire audience and later asking the guy to "step outside."

Anonymous said...

7:29, better check with audience members instead of Jean - - people are on to the fact that when you talk to Jean you rarely get the real story.

Speaking of which, you'd better double-check Stothert's "massive" endorsement list. Word on the street is many of those folks never agreed to have their names used, and are going public with it.

Anonymous said...

I heard Stothert said last night that spiking isn't a problem. Huh?? Then, when asked how to fix the pension issue, she said, "The first thing we have to do is stop the spiking." Huh?? Check your meltdown facts.

The last thing Stothert wants to do is upset all her buddies at the fire department.

Anonymous said...

Union ad said "Jim Vokal voted twice to increase police pensions and reduce the age of retirement."

The Vokal camp gave a 109 word long answer to this. That is too much explaination for voters to grasp in the face of Vokal seeming to hate policemen and firemen.

Vokal might as well run on a pro-terrorist ticket. He has picked the wrong fight. That's his fault.

Millard Observer said...

To Jordan, I mean Anonymous @ 7:46 am: Jean has been very clear about spiking and the need to eliminate the practice. Unlike Jim Vokal that did noting to cutback police overtime as a city councilman, Jean will resolve the issue and fix the pension problem. Also Jordan, I mean Anonymous, your boy Jon seemed edgy and agitated last night. Is it because people are calling him on the carpet on his inflated resume and him seeking the fire and police endorsement then shunning it after he was told he wasn't going to get it. Lot's of people are talking about Jon's problems.

Anonymous said...

Every person on Stothert's endorsement list agreed to be listed.
Fairly pathetic attack on Blumenthal's part.
Blumenthal's campaign once again proves they're a class act. Now, that's the kind of leadership I want on my city council....

Anonymous said...

Vokal is on thin ice. He knows the ad is correct. Look it up.

Go Big or don't go at all said...

So, Blumenthal was a driving force behind Omaha's growing economy for the past 15 year?

Someone told me they researched the Omaha World Herald achives and only found his name mentioned four times (including for passing the bar, his engagement, and high school debate) before he ran for council. Can this be true?

By comparison, people who are generally considered "driving forces" have: David Sokol had 686 entries, Walter Scott had 1173, John Gottschalk 368, Charles Durham 209,Hal Daub 4027, Mike Harper 474, Baird Holm partner David Kramer 512, Bruce Lauritzen 205...

I guess if you are going to over inflate your resume, GO BIG!

Anonymous said...

Let's see - - Blumenthal was named to the Midlands Business Journal's 40 Under 40 list and was awarded as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Omahans by the Omaha Jaycees in 2004. Seems he must be doing something right.

Keep up that positive campaign, Jean. Good job.

Anonymous said...

Vokal has been playing fast and loose with the facts, as he's been trying to say whatever the group he's addressing wants to hear.

He has a record, though.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, the best Mike Boyle can say about Jim Suttle is that "he's organized"?? Nice endorsement. :)

Go Big or don't go at all said...


That's all and good. But there has never been an answer as to how Jon Blumenthal was a driving force behind Omaha's economic growth while he was a law student at Kansas. If you are going to make an exagerated claim like that, something so easy to discredit, how can you trust a thing he says in this campaign?

If he started being a driving force the minute he passed the bar, it'd still have to be the year 2011.

Furthermore, what is his idea of being a "driving force?" If it means being part of a legal team helping to secure land for development, that isn't my idea. A driving force seeks out business to attract them to our community. Pushes (drives) for their growth, not becoming involved after the decision to grow has already been made.

If anything, he has bragged about helping move business to LaVista, not Omaha.

It is a legit question.

LaVista Voter said...

Thanks Jon Blumenthal, send more jobs to Sarpy County!!!

Husker Fan said...

I guess I could say I've been a driving force behind husker football for decades.

Go Big Red!

Rex Moats fan said...

SS, you better watch how your blog is being used. This Jean/Jon debate is getting so mean spirited that the loser of the race will hire Rex Moats to sue you...

Street Sweeper said...

Uh oh. Better make a clarification;

Rex Moats is NOT a trial attorney!!!


Anonymous said...

Rex for the lost $12,000 a year that he would have made as a state So is Rex saying he can not find a job that makes more than $12,000 a year? Is he unemployed?

Anonymous said...

Dave Domina

Omaha Lawyer said...

Rex Moats just opened up his whole life to the NE GOP!!! The discovery process will go through everything that Rex has done for the past few years. Also, did he claim any mental distress? If so his medical records come into play. I think Jim Sherrets deposing Rex Moats for 8 hours will force a settlement!!! Anyone else have some ideas?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Street Sweeper said...

Sorry about the deletion, but I can guarantee you that WE do not want to get pulled into this goofy suit.

Feel free to re-submit with any legal conclusions omitted.


2nd try said...

From KTIC:
"Moats' attorney, David Domina, said Wednesday that Moats accepts his defeat in the election and will not argue that the Republican mailings were the direct cause of the loss. Rather, the case will focus on the false statements."

How can you sue for lost wages if, by all appearances, you admit you never had the job?

Street Sweeper said...


Ricky said...

I usually don't agree with somebody as far right as Sen. Scott L but I actually agree with him on the cigar bar bill.
Hello! It's a cigar bar, established before the smoking ban is to take place state-wide.
Don't go in there if you don't like smoke, which I don't.

ricky from omaha

Angry Taxpayer said...

OWH 4-4-09
"Daub says he will ask recent retirees with "excessive" pensions to return to the negotiating table and discuss reductions in their retirement checks."

LOL Whatta clown! Get ready for the anti-Daub ads from the police union!
Do you think they will support Suttle?