Monday, July 20, 2009

No, really...

Things we're not making up this week...

We've all seen it, but it bears reapeating:

Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle closes the city swimming pools a week early to save $75,000.

He then hires a new staffer at an increased salary of $80,000.

No, really.


Senator Ben Nelson was harshly criticized for pretending his turkey-hunting retreat was a farm back in the 2006 campaign to get a tax break.

So what does he do now?

Puts a few cows on his turkey-hunting retreat, calls it a farm and ASKS AGAIN for the tax break (and gets it).

Just so we all remember, the purpose of the Greenbelt protection was/is to PROTECT FARMERS from the taxes imposed by encroaching urban life.

It was never meant to be a trick to turn your weekend river retreat into a cow pasture.
Yet this is what your U.S. Senator did to save $9,500 per year for himself.

No, really.


And speaking of the Senator, there's always some liberal group out there who doesn't find the good Senator liberal enough.

So who does group-of-the-day want to replace him with?

Scott Kleeb.

No, really.

[Now if you're really clever, you'll put a "No, really..." in your comment...]


Suttle Supporter said...


Anonymous said...

If I have to pay my taxes, then so should a US Senator...from the story...I don't see any evidence of cattle grazing.

It is time we hold our elected officials to a higher standard and I am wondering if this "agreement" with the livestock group is real or just another ploy for Nelson to not have to pay his fair share.

In regards to Suttle...I don't care if the payroll of his administration is the same as Fahey's...we are in a financial crunch and if he is asking other hard working city employees to a pay freeze, then the mayor's staff's salary should be frozen as well. His staff should not be making MORE than their predecessors.

When will the SUTTLE MADNESS end. He closes pools and saves $75,000 but hires a new finance director for $80,000 more than Ebdon...we just went in the hole $5000 last week alone..


Anonymous said...

Nelson, Suttle, Kleeb.

Come on democrats, is this the best you can do?

Anonymous said...

I heard they were bulls and we're stuck with the remains.


Anonymous said...

No, really, Scott Kleeb, again?! Has his Greenie Meanie company, Pioneer Energy, already run off with the startup capital and he can't figure out what else to do besides opening a home daycare in Hastings?

Scott Kleeb is one of Nebraska's finest looking snake oil salesmen-No, really! (Good thing he already has Miss Jane to hold the snake-oops, was that naughty?LOL)

Anonymous said...

So, who's hankering to run against Ben in 2012 from the Republican side? Pete again? I was talking to someone this weekend in Omaha who thinks Hal Daub should run against Ben. Anyone heard any rumors?

looking at the bigger picture said...

I appreciate being fiscally conservative but we have to remember that when competing against private companies, $180k for a CFO is probably not overly competitive. Additionally, it is a job that is going to be thankless and the potential downside is very high. What is more important is pulling the right person not the cheapest. In my opinion, the bigger question is whether or not he should have looked outside of Omaha and brought in someone from a municipality that had experience in similar economic conditions (i.e. Florida, Michigan, Ohio).

NE Voter said...

Regarding 2012, no way Hal Daub can beat Ben Nelson. Hal hasn't won an election since 1997, and couldn't win the City of Omaha in 2009 (much less the whole state).

I suspect Hal is finished with electoral politics. If he can't restrain himself, he will fulfill his destiny of becoming the Jerry Hassett of the local Republican party. I loved Jerry, but he was still walking door-to-door at age 84 in his final Quixotic campaign in 2002.

I'm also pretty sure the NEGOP power structure is still smarting its pledge of support for Daub's Mayoral run in exchange for dropping his primary challenge against Johanns. I rather doubt they will back Hal so uniformily if he runs for anything major.

I've also heard that Ricketts is looking at it again, though I would be surprised if he opted for the rematch (and another expensive defeat).

The Suttle hiring "controversy" is a tempest in a teacup. Combined, hIs staff salaries don't exceed Fahey's. In addition, Suttle has eliminated the part-time positions that Fahey had in place. The increases are large, and we'll have to wait and see how the department heads perform.

As a business person, I agree that sometimes you have to pay for top talent. Folks, it is more likely than not that Cunningham and the new Finance Director (I won't attempt to spell her name from memory) took substantial pay CUTS in accepting employment with the City. He was a BIG bigshot with HDR, and she was the Chief Financial Officer of a Fortune-500 company. These appear to be outstanding "gets" from the private sector. Just the type of hires I would have expected to be praised by the "Government-Should-Be-Run-Like-A-Business" crowd.

Finally, it is simply disingeneous to suggest that the savings from the early pool closings was then "given" to fund staff salary increases. Those funds are not part of Suttle's discretionary budget.

I agree that 75k is peanuts toward resolving the $14,000,000 budget shortfall he has inherited, but it's better than nothing. In addition to examining additional revenue sources, the Mayor and Council are going to picking a lot of corn out of the manure in terms of finding savings here and there.

Not a pretty picture, but they all volunteered for the gig.

Anonymous said...

I love Hal, but most people either love him or they don't. We'll leave it at that.

Pete is tainted by his last attempt at running. He spent far too much of his own money, thus getting the label of trying to buy the seat. Correct, he had to spend enough of his own to be considered sincere, since everyone knew he was a multimillionaire. He, however crossed the line (no negativity intended in terminology) into self funding in professional terms; buying in average voter terms. This label will be hard to shed and fundraising will be difficult as was evidenced previously by lackluster donors due to lack of need.

Jon Bruning would be a viable candidate. He has experience, statewide appeal, and while very aggressive in the last attempt, accepted that it was not his time and did not cause a splitting of the Party (which is exactly what would have happened had he stayed in against Johanns) Plus, he already has a great headstart on fundraising frozen away in a Federal acct!

Other names to consider are Lee Terry, Dave Nabity, or Dan Welch. I am obviously focussing on Omaha candidates, but it is well known that Jeff Fortenberry would love to run and our current Lt. Gov would do very well in a statewide race, too. Abbie Cornett would probably like to be considered also.

As for the Suttle staff wages, I agree that those numbers might be in line for the private sector, HOWEVER, this is the PUBLIC sector and wages like this should not be tolerated (she is making more than Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi). If it is no big deal, then his new FD should disclose what she was being paid at Werner and dispose of all the rhetoric. Until then, the rhetoric and innuendo are guaranteed to continue. Also, what is her grand plan that is so valuable? At least stand in front of the public and tell us exactly what is in your bag of tricks to heal what ails us.

Anonymous said...

It is good to see the, "Blame it on the last guy.", game is an equal opportunity excuse for all that ails you!

Anonymous said...

And I don't think the new FD for Omaha was the "CFO" at Werner. Wasn't she an "associate VP" or something like that?

Anonymous said...

I think she should have been offered an incentive bonus or something instead of her HUGE salary of $180,000. Like, she'd get $20,000 if she brought back our AAA status, another $10,000 if she balances the budget, etc.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect to Hal Daub, would somebody put him out to pasture already with Ben's cows. He's over.

Anonymous said...

Suttle had to overpay because he was turned down by many very qualified candidates. This is true with nearly allof his hires. People can't work with the guy.

As much as people portray Daub as divisive, several of the candidates who turned Suttle down would have worked for Daub at levels near what the fahey staff made.

Anonymous said...

It is really quite simple. Heinemann runs against Ben Nelson. He's unbeatable. Sheehy finishes out Dave's term and sets himself up to win the following Governor's race.

Lifelong Nebraskan said...

I still think Matt Samp is still involved with Suttle. Maybe Jim is paying him through the back door or something. Has anyone seen an NADC report?

Anonymous said...

Suttle justifies these huge increases in all of his staff by saying that he is making up the difference by eliminating part-time jobs (actually, I'd like more details on's easy to just throw out there and hope people buy it) and investing in leadership. If all of the other positions are gone, who are the new outrageously paid people supposed to lead? Furthermore, there is only so much work a single person can do. They will need some sort of support staff.

None of his arguments make sense, although I guess that is becoming a pattern.

Anonymous said...

Find me anyone that has heard Heinemann say, in the last 10 years, that he has any interest in going to D.C.

BTW, I bet Matt Samp was going to work cheap. LOL, and he could have done the Finance Director's job as a part time gig since he was only going to be a part time COS. He surely must be qualified, he was such a great bookkeeper in his Uncle's Law Office.

Interested said...

Who is Samp's uncle??

Anonymous said...

Google matt samp findlaw

Anonymous said...

If that's his uncle then it is genetic!

Anonymous said...

3 stories to Suttle Watch's one. Great job Sweeper!!!

Anonymous said...

Who should run against Nelson? I suggest that Republican kid who lost to Esch for the Democratic Congresional nomination. What was his name??

Anonymous said...

Jesus.....Kleeb again?!?!? How pathetic! But then, it would be funny to see him go down three in a row.

One Out In The Third said...

Kleeb is waiting for his ship to come in when Cap and Tax passes. Then...he will personally come to your house...Ms. Jane may have to drive ...but he will come to your house...and inspect and certify your home...with his blessing and guarantee that your home is "green" enough to be required by law. If not...he will take care of that too.

Sounds like a bunch of gypsy contractors to me. Sorry...I did not mean to offend any gypsies...they have higher standards.

I read in the LJS that Ms. Jane is on the health care haywagon now...she was quoted that the average Nebraskan pays 14K a year for health insurance. Seems her quote is about double or triple the going rate to me. Where did she dig up those numbers? Half that would buy a pretty nice policy.

Bruning...he can't make up his mind and "Georgie Porgie's" when someone says boo. Heineman is just a cheerleader no better than Nelson. Osborn has baggage now. Sheehy lucked out with an appointment and the people in Hastings celebrated as he drove off to Lincoln. I always thought that Heineman picked him to make himself look better as Governor.

Then again...what do the Democrats have? All they can come up with to run against Smith is a little girl out in Alliance?

I think BTO should make a run for Ben's seat...he's a noted maverick now. Everybody loves a "maverick." I know I would vote for him over "Lefty" Kleeb and his horse "Robo"...or E. Benjamin...(the E. stands for Earmark.)

Nate E said...

Whats with the first photo, the big 'N'? Is that on a pool gate or something? Just dont understand the purpose for that (pic).
If I remember correctly, wasn't there a greenbelt exemption on the property when Nelson bought it, and it was just carried over to him? I may be wrong on that but thats what i remember. But now it just seems a little, um, pathetic.

Street Sweeper said...

The giant "N" is for "Nelson" -- as in the main gate to his turkey-hunting retreat, er.... cattle ranch!

Absolutely not in a contest with Suttle Watch, or any other blog for that matter. You'll note that we link to most of them, and wish them the best. SW has broken stories that we hadn't heard.

Uncle Wiggily said...

Draft Kleeb??!!?

Hell, why not go all the way and draft the shade of Harold Stassen - he's about the only candidate who ever been thumped as often as Kleeb has.

Fort for Senate? Or Sheehy in the mansion? Please ...

Politics on both sides has become a stand-up comedy routine ... and not a very funny one at that.

A pox on both their houses.

Sarah just keeps looking smarter and smarter.

Anonymous said...

Who owned the Nelson Estate before Bennie perhaps they actually lived there and treated it the way the "Greenbelt" intended.

Oh, wait, maybe Matt Samp applied for the "greenbelt" status on Ben's behalf to make sure Old Ben is in compliance with the Greenie Meanies the same way that he got Suttle that fancy "Green" SUV, that had to be red!

Anonymous said...

Unc' I don't think that's her brain you're lookin' at.

But, that's okay, once you get past her looks, I think she probably has a heart of gold-the problem is, so did Bush and look what they did to him!

Anonymous said...

No, really?

remember when Ricketts' turkey add forced hundred of sarpy county residents off greenbelt and into hire taxes only to have 90% of them reinstated through appeal?

No, really, Nelson's greenbelt status transferred from the PREVIOUS owner.

And, no Really, does the Sarpy County assessor escort reporters on private, unannounced tours of everyone's privately owned land in Sarpy or just Ben Nelson's?

No really, the same assessor who overturned Nelson's greebelt status in 2006 approved it in 2009?

No really, shouldn't your beef be with him for allowing a democratic elected official to get a tax break all his neighbors get?

Nate E said...

Uncle, Sarah is NOT looking smarter and smarter, but your allowed your own opinions i guess.

Street Sweeper said...

Not that anyone's reading this post anymore but...

No, Nelson's Greenbelt status did NOT transfer -- he applied for it, then it was later denied and he paid the back taxes.

And again, the point is that this is something one must actively apply for. I'm just a bit amazed the good Senator would game the tax system like that -- bringing in cows. Sheesh.

Uncle Wiggily said...


Not that I much care to explain myself but ... I mean that Sarah is looking smarter for getting the hell out. The party system political swamp is so befouled that anyone that splashes around in it is permanently contaminated. I think Palin saw this before anyone else.

Look for her to tell the mainstream Republican Party hacks to take a hike soon.

Watch and learn, libs ...!

Anonymous said...

You folks from omaha need to look south to Lincoln. They have two young republican city council people (spatz and hournung) who may be getting ready to mix it up at a higher level.

not so fast... said...

Sweeper you are wrong. Nelson's greenbelt status transferred with the property when he bought it. He had to refile for the status. that's when Pittman leaked the application to the media.

remember, Pittman had approved the Nelson application before he denied it and has now approved it again!

And, why not acknowledge Pittman APPROVED the latest application. your post would indicate that the real corruption is with PITTMAN for APPROVING the application. Are we to assume that Pitmann approved an application for property that DID NOT meet the requirements?

Tax Assessors are supposed to assess property, not do the bidding of the Nebraska republican Party.

Street Sweeper said...

Feel free to read the summaries of Nelson's greenbelt problems back in 2006 here on L. St. They're all there.

Also, go ahead and re-read what I just wrote in the comments about what I feel is the issue here.

It's much easier than me re-typing everything for you.

One Out In The Third said...

Are those vegetable remnants at the 1 and 3 o'clock position on Ol' Earmarks gate monogram? Civil disobedience in Sarpy County? They could be turkey droppings but they are too light in color to be scat.

not so fast... said...

Sweeper - if the point is Nelson is "gaming the system" then why isn't everyone else with greenbelt "gaming the system"?

After all, the requirements are public and reviewed by a republican political operative posing as a tax assessor. If Nelson's land qualifies, why shouldn't he get the same tax break as his neighbors? Becuase he's a US Senator? That isn't right.

Why can't you admit that Nelson's land has ALWAYS qualified for greenbelt status - before he owned it and after - and has now twice been approved for the status by the county assessor. I think the issue is dead at this point. Now, hopefully, someone will investigate Pittman's unethical behavior as tax assessor.

Street Sweeper said...

Tell you what; go back to the L. St. archives and try reading what happened back in 2006.

The Greenbelt status back then was simply rubber stamped until someone looked at it, then it was DISAPPROVED and Nelson had to pay back the taxes.

And yes, Nelson is gaming the system and I would expect better from a U.S. Senator.

not so fast... said...

no really? you have a no show tax assessor in Sarpy county? he rubber stamped all those greenbelt applications? Was he not doing his job? Shouldn't he be recalled or investigated? how much did years of rubberstamping applications cost the county in unpaid taxes?

I read the old posts, there isn't anything in there than your own opinions sweeper - lots of talk about turkeys.

The fact is the land was greenbelt status BEFORE Nelson owned it. it was approved by Pittman through reapplication. Not until the NEGOP was looking for dirt did Pittman invite the media up there and reverse the assessment. Now the same doofus has re-approved nelson's application because it qualifies under the existing law. And for some reason he invited Channel 7 up there to tour nelson's property. Does everyone get that kind of service from this guy? He's made tax assessing political. he should be fired.

I thought you conservatives were anti-tax - why aren't you applauding Nelson's efforts to curb big government growth in Sarpy?

Street Sweeper said...

(I appreciate your "no really" in there.)

We linked to all the pertinent articles and stories back in 2006. It seems that you've gotten the gist now.

So here's my final word on this (to you): CAN you bring some cows onto your turkey hunting retreat and thereby turn it into a farm and get Greenbelt status, thereby gaming the system that was set up to protect farmers?

Well, apparently you can.

SHOULD you (particularly when you're a US Senator, who should lead by example)?

I'll leave you to your own conclusions on that.