Thursday, February 26, 2009

We don't need no stinking endorsements!

As we all know by now, Jim Vokal came out yesterday and said, "No Fire or Police Union money or endorsements for me!"

And then Hal Daub said, "Uh, me too!"

Suttle? "Sure, I'll take me some a that."

But of course that's not the end, is it?


First lets look at this from the Vokal standpoint:

Now he HAD to know he was going to get hit for taking Fire Money in 2008. According to records (as far as we can tell) Vokal took $2,500 in May and another $2,500 in October from the Fire Union. Vokal's argument is that that was money BEFORE he was a candidate for Mayor.

Well, for what it's worth, 1) that money has been lumped into his current campaign war chest and 2) the second $2,500 came AFTER the RunJimmyRun billboards went up. While those were not "official" campaign signs, we will go ahead and assume the campaign was in motion then. Vokal's argument really has no wings.

So, in order for Vokal's claim that he's not taking any Union money to be accurate and politically persuasive, should he give that five grand back? Uh, yeah.

(However, we separate our political suggestion from the demands on the comments boards -- many identical on such places as Leavenworth Street and WOWT -- that Vokal MUST give the money back. We don't really care whether he does or not -- just that if he wants to go down that road, he has to see that at as the end result.)


And Hal Daub? Well Daub hadn't received any Police or Fire Union money yet, and he says he won't take any money or an endorsement from the Police.

The OWH's evening edition (not online at the time of writing this) said:
Daub said in his press release that he had made his decision well before Vokal made his announcement.

Daub said his campaign informed union President Aaron Hanson Tuesday night that he would not accept the endorsement.

Hanson initially denied talking to anyone from the Daub campaign Tuesday.

When told about Daub’s announcement, Hanson replied: “What are you talking about? Where are you getting this information?”

Hanson called back about 10 minutes later, saying Brinker Harding, Daub’s campaign manager, did talk to him Tuesday night about the decision. Hanson said he believed the conversation was private. He said he simply was trying to find out the source of the information.

Though frankly, Daub was in a bit of a tight spot on this. If he says nothing at all, Vokal can make some kind of hay out of Daub being "beholden" or whatever. Now he could have gone the Suttle route, but maybe that is too risky for him. In any case, he told KPTM that he is "bending over backwards" to avoid the suspicion of impropriety (while pointing out that Vokal had taken money from the Fire Union while gearing up his campaign).

The thing is, Daub looks like he was forced into those gymnastics by Vokal, which makes the declaration seem less sincere.


Anyway, it's worth noting that both Daub and Vokal have taken money and endorsements from the Police and Firefighters Unions in the past.
Why is that noteworthy?

Well, each has argued that their self denial of endorsements and money is based on the importance of negotiaing with the unions this year.

Well, we're to understand that it wasn't important in past years? So cash or an endorsement in the past didn't taint their neogitiations and votes, but this year it would? What's magic about this year?

Oh, it's because it's a bigger political issue that everyone is watching. Ohhhhh, OK.

See, we get that, and understand what the campaigns are doing. But does either camp think the public is that dense that they don't see that as well?

Did Camp Vokal think the money issue wasn't going to come up IMMEDIATELY? Did Camp Daub think they weren't going to just look ME-TOO-ish on this?

And Suttle? Well, frankly, we can't really blame Suttle's answer on this.

Suttle said he,
"...welcomes any endorsement saying his campaign is based on working with unions, ethics and trust.

'It's out of that trust that I am perfectly comfortable to taking endorsements and taking donations from anyone in the city. This is their city and I want to be free to represent all people.'"
For what it's worth, here is how much we think this "refusing money and endorsements" issue will resonate with the public: We think Suttle gave the best response.

(And don't think the public may already be tiring of the Vokal-Daub bickering...)


Hey, state workers, if I were you, I'd be watching over my back every time I get on the internet at work. You know it's just a matter of time before State Auditor Mike Foley starts reviewing your blog-viewing habits.

(And you better be doubly careful if you ever snickered at his Mullet-Suit!)

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Slam and Volley

After spending a week getting hammered in the press and in mailings, City Councilman Jim Vokal made himself an official Mayoral candidate yesterday.

And then he started hammering fellow Mayoral candidate Hal Daub.

Now Daub spent yesterday addressing his plan for a 10% tax credit against property taxes owed for home improvements.  OK, so a plan for lower taxes, with an added benefit of increasing home valuations in the long run and putting builders to work. Sounds like a decent plan. (And we provide you a link here where you can read the ENTIRE Daub press release on this.) 

But Vokal (and Jim Suttle) don't like it. At least not on its face.

Vokal voiced skepticism of the plan because he says it would be too much of a drop in the revenue stream for the state -- and the Governor may not like that.


OK, I understand that Vokal is frustrated by spending a week being a punching bag. And that he feels that Daub is responsible for that, and that his campaign needs to go on the offensive.

But knocking a plan to cut taxes and spur economic growth because, potentially, "we can't pay for it"? Now that's not exactly a conservative Republican response, is it?

We would have suggested something along the lines of, "That's an interesting idea, but maybe Mr. Daub should be running for State Senator or Governor, since that is a plan that would have to be approved in Lincoln. Instead, in this campaign we should be talking about ideas that can be implemented by the Mayor of Omaha, like my plan for (insert plan here)."

Now, there's an easy argument by the Daub folks that it's also the Mayor's job to come up with ideas that will require state cooperation, etc. But in responding as suggested above, Vokal doesn't sound like just a naysayer, still gets a jab in at his opponent, and steers the conversation to
 something positive.


By the way, Jim Suttle's response to Daub's plan?

(We paraphrase,) "Why, this isn't good enough for the stimulus plan! This wouldn't go into effect for another ten months! We need economic development now!"

Uh, Councilman one said this was part of the "federal economic stimulus". This is a plan for the benefit of taxpayers and builders, and potentially the local economy in general. Whether it goes into effect two days or two years from now has nothing to do with whether or not it would be an effective plan.

But since you brought it up, what are YOUR plans for immediate economic development? You know, the ones that you claim Omaha NEEDS NOW, and will reduce gang violence and all that.

Nothing? Toboggan runs and ice rinks?
OK. That's what we thought.


Vokal wasn't done with Daub on that point however.

In the OWH this morning, there was this:
Vokal said Daub's contentious relationship with the City Council in the 1990s is still on the minds of voters.

"He couldn't get along with people. He couldn't bring people together," said Vokal.
OK, again, we understand this line of argument. Frankly, it should be Vokal's main line of attack against Daub, since it was the successful line of attack by Mike Fahey when he beat Daub in 2001.

But, here is where we don't like it:

If he wants to win, Vokal needs to stay positive. A candidate in general needs to stay positive. So in this arguably opening salvo (since he just filed), where a candidate is going to get some free media, you need to be ticking off what you want to do for the city, your plans to fix the pensions, and the stadium and blah blah blah blah. You need to give people a reason to trust you.

Now, Vokal (and any candidate) also needs to whack his main opponent. But that doesn't mean the attack should be coming from him. We would argue as well, that it shouldn't be his campaign manager, because then it just comes from "the Vokal campaign".

This is where Vokal needs someone else to stand in for him to give that line. Someone else to give the angry face, while Jim is off to the side kissing hands and shaking babies. Instead the public sees angry and negative Vokal, when that's the exact opposite of what should be coming right now.


Vokal final slam of the day came via Joe Jordan of KMTV. Now we have to say that we've been waiting for Jordan to say SOMETHING more about the whole thing with the police union and the mailers, etc. We just couldn't see him sitting on the sidelines through something like that.

So on his report last night, he "reported" on a "controversy" between Vokal and Daub. Now, you can be the judge but it seems like this may have been created by asking Vokal if he thought Daub would have credibility to take on the Police Union if Daub is endorsed by them. So, of course, Vokal said no. (Now we will take this all back if this was indeed initiated by Vokal, but from our viewing, it doesn't look that way.)

Jordan  then goes to Daub campaign manager Brinker Harding, who gave the easy response that Vokal already said he has a deal with the Firefighter's Union, so how can he talk?

What's the upshot of all this to Joe Voter?

Well, candidates bickering about nothing, essentially.
But it makes for good TV and bloggin', right?


(By the way, good move by Brinker to leave the Euro-techno-artist glasses in the desk drawer...)


After our post yesterday about Tom White and a possible run at the Governor's mansion, we heard from a number of people who say they hear that White is more likely to run against Congressman Lee Terry for the CD-2 seat.

As we discussed, that would make more sense, considering the strength that Governor Dave Heineman has shown, and the close race that Terry just won.

Of course Terry's opponent, whomever it may be, won't have cult-of-personality campaign of Barack Obama running next to him on the ballot. And if past elections are any indication, as President Obama's superstar begins to tarnish, it may be that much more difficult to compete in what is still a Red Congressional District.

If White does go that route, that still leaves an opening for a Dem to take on Heineman. Steve Lathrop's name has been mentioned, but we just don't see a first termer taking on the Guv. But, stranger things have happened.

We are sure this story will progress...


And finally, this on Channel 7, in full:

OMAHA, Neb. -- A wildlife worker noticed that a brain-damaged woodchuck was missing from its den over the weekend.

The woodchuck, named Mathilda, suffered the brain damage in April when it was hit by a car.

Nebraska Wildlife Rehabilitation cares for animals at workers' homes. Mathilda was based near 90th and Center streets.

The animal was being cared for by Laura Stastny. Stastny found the den unlocked and open, and she realized the woodchuck was gone.

Stastny said Mathilda's chances for survival are slim.

"My biggest concern is that somebody clearly broke into the cage to get her. If they just released her, she has no skills to survive in the wild and she'll be dead in a very short period of time," Stastny said.

Stastny said woodchucks are hibernating now. So if anyone spots one, it's probably Mathilda.

Anyone with information should call the rehab hot line at 341-8619 or drop off the animals at the Nebraska Humane Society.
So, just so we're all clear, not only are there groups out there caring for "brain-damaged woodchucks" (which they've named, of course). There are NEWS STORIES about rescuing kidnapped, brain-damaged woodchucks (with names)! 

(Was there a ransom note?)

I believe Homer Simpson said it best, when he exclaimed, "I'm livin' in a cuckoo-clock!"

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Talking 2010?

To start your week out right, here's a little Separated at Birth for you:

State Senator Tom White and hipster-doofus, Cosmo Kramer!


So is it too early to talk about the 2010 Governor's race?
Well, don't ask Tom White that question.

White is gung-ho in challenging Governor Dave Heineman whenever he gets the chance. He is the go-to guy for press criticism of the Guv, and has even started his own PAC, with associated campaign website --

White has been in the Legislature since all the way back in 2006 and obviously has plans to take on DH.

Or would White cool his heels if Heineman looks too strong?

Heineman, West Point grad and former Army Airborne Ranger, isn't the kind of guy who rests on his laurels. As an OWH article pointed out  not too long ago, he's up with the sun every day working on all things Nebraska (and don't think that doesn't include campaigning). This is the guy who took down Tom freaking Osborne in Nebraska. His popularity in Nebraska is still way up there, and he is occasionally making waves on the national scene as well. 

Would White challenge Heineman if it looks clear that he would become another Dave Hahn?
We'll probably know in a few months. But White wouldn't be the first guy to underestimate Heineman

Or the first guy that the Guv has body-slammed...


The kids over at the NNN cracked us up with a video someone YouTubed up the other day.

It features Senator Mike Johanns saying "No, No, No" repeatedly -- six times by our count.

Now we want to give them props just for being able to dig out that kind of data. Very funny.

Of course the irony of all this is that the vid is meant to "slam" Johanns. (Ooh! Here are his PHONE numbers! CALL him!)

But Johanns's vote against the nomination of the tax-cheat Treasury Secretary whose recent non-plan for the economy sent the stock plummeting?

Thanks Senator!

Johann's vote against Clinton's pardon-master Eric Holder, who just told you (reader) that you're a coward because (during Black History Month) you don't talk about race enough

Thanks Senator!

Johanns's vote against expanding SCHIP waaay beyond it's original intended purpose?

Thank you Senator!

Voting against the Porkulous, non-stimulatory bill?

Thaaaaaaank you MJ!

(Hey, I might just use those phone numbers to let him know I'm happy with his job...)


And since we just can't resist talking about the Omaha Mayor's race, note that with Jim Vokal's filing today, all three of the major candidates -- Hal Daub, Jim Vokal and Jim Suttle will have filed. 

(The deadline is March 6th, so keep your eyes peeled for the final Joe Jordan Democrat.)

The Suttle forces have recently informed their supporters that Councilman Suttle is in the cat-bird's seat for the race. In a 1,300 word e-mail (we counted 'em), they explain that ALL the Obama volunteers have now moved over to Jim Suttle for Mayor campaign! (You hear that Obama vols? What, you weren't aware of that?)

It's an interesting message, noting that Daub and Vokal are both no-good scoundrels who will lose because they've lost before (or some such). 

And why will you and everyone else support Jim Suttle? he's not Hal Daub or Jim Vokal, that's why! 

And that is 100% Suttle's strategy. It worked for Mike Fahey in 2001, but then, he was running against an incumbent and had no record of his own. This isn't 2001...

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

After Sheriff's Request, Omaha Police to begin Sex Offender Monitoring

Today Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning formally requested the assistance of the Omaha Police in monitoring the Registration of Sex Offenders in Omaha.

He stated:

It was not my intent to get involved in the debate between City Councilman Jim Vokal and the Omaha Police Officers’ Association over the sex offender issue. However, several news stories in the last few days have included facts about the role our office plays in tracking sex offenders that need to be clarified and I felt it was important to set the record straight.

First, let me verify that I am, in fact, on record as saying that our office could definitely use the he lp in keeping track of sex offenders who are required by state law to register their addresses with authorities. And I still feel that way today. There are over 775 Sex Offenders in Douglas County, 351 of them are Level Three Sex Offenders that have the highest likelihood that they would re-offend.

It is true that sex offenders are extremely high risks for committing another sex crime after their release from prison and there is no question that children in the neighborhoods where they live are potentially in danger. Parents have a right to be aware of this danger and we are responsible for ensuring that these offenders are living where they say they are living.

It is an extremely difficult task, as many of these convicted sex offenders will register fa lse addresses or not inform our office of subsequent moves. Obviously, electronic monitoring would be a helpful solution, however, it is not yet permissible.

While I realize that there is no legal obligation for the City of Omaha to help us with this important job, I feel that it is an area where city-county cooperation makes sense. We have cooperative arrangements in many other areas, why not on this? In fact, this type of cooperation is going on in many other jurisdictions in our area.

Let me also say that Officer Virgil Patlan, who was active in his neighborhood and concerned about the number of sex offenders that needed to be checked, made the issue before the City Council a few years ago. This was a legitimate request for assistance on a very real problem that faces many neighborhoods in Omaha. It was always my thought that officers would make these checks during normal working hours while they were on other calls in areas where sex offenders are living. Any ordinance could easily be crafted to ensure that no overtime be accrued.

While I respect the City Council’s right to reject our plea for help, I still believe that this ordinance would be extremely helpful in protecting children in Omaha neighborhoods and I would be in favor of the Council reconsidering this issue. I believe Crime Control is everyone’s problem and decisions concerning these matters have no boundaries. A few years ago I made the comment that I could use all the help I could get. Any Law Enforcement Executive that could get additional help would be negligent in their duties to refuse additional help.

In response, Omaha Police Chief Eric Buske spoke with Dunning and issued the following release:

In response to Sheriff Dunning's request for assistance checking on the addresses of Registered Sex Offenders in Omaha, the Omaha Police Department will assist the Sheriff's Office.

Chief Eric Buske and Sheriff Tim Dunning spoke today and procedures will be worked out between the agencies. The Omaha Police Department will play a supportive role, with the primary responsibility still resting with the Sheriff's Office and Nebraska State Patrol, per State Statute.

There will be no overtime funds expended by OPD checking on Sex Offender's addresses.

The Jim Vokal for Mayor campaign released this statement:

Today’s agreement between Chief Eric Buske and Sheriff Tim Dunning that would allow the Omaha Police Department to assist the Douglas County Sheriff’s office in the monitoring of high-risk sex offenders provides the strongest repudiation to date of the claims made by Aaron Hanson and the Omaha Police Union.

This interagency agreement proves without a doubt that the attacks leveled against me are completely dishonest and have little to do with public safety or educating voters. At no point did the Omaha City Council ever stand in the way of cooperation between these law enforcement agencies. Contrary to Union claims, no vote or action of mine or my colleagues has ever “blocked” Omaha police officers from assisting sheriff’s deputies in tracking sex offenders. Today’s developments confirm that fact.

Moreover, Sheriff Dunning said today that no ordinance from the city council was necessary for this law enforcement partnership to commence. This is significant, since Sheriff Dunning was one of the original “sources” cited by the Police Union to back up their fictitious claims.

This development should make clear the real motives of the Omaha Police Union’s attacks on me and my candidacy for mayor. At any point in the last week, last month, or last year, union leadership could have walked in to Chief Buske’s office and urged him to allow police assistance in the monitoring of sex offenders, and it seems very clear today that their request would have been granted.

Instead, Aaron Hanson and the union leadership have spent their time and resources on a public smear campaign, both criticizing my opposition to their exorbitant pension demands and developing a direct mail campaign full of baseless accusations and inaccuracies about my record on public safety. Yesterday’s flyer is perhaps the most egregious scare tactic yet, indicating that high-risk sex offenders are at large because of the council’s action when the reality is that many of the men listed are already behind bars.

More than ever, the circumstances surrounding today’s agreement demonstrates that these fliers have little to do with increasing public safety and everything to do with impacting my campaign as the only candidate for mayor to release a plan that would fix the pension system and by reigning in benefits and eliminating spiking.

Now that their claims have been proven false, I call on the Omaha Police Union to put an end to these attacks. I would also ask that fellow candidate Hal Daub, who recently indicated his agreement with these claims, to publicly denounce the false and unsubstantiated content of these mailings.

Leavenworth Street requested a statement from the Daub campaign, and at the time of posting had not yet received a response. We will post an update when we receive it.

We're not sure that we are going to get a response from the Daub camp, so we instead take the transcript of Hal Daub on KFAB's Scott Voorhees show two days before this on Monday, 2/16/09:

(Voorhees asked Daub if he would condemn the Police Union's mailer)
I don't like the idea of that kind of an approach to an issue. But my record is fair game for my opponents.

So you have to decide if the issue's important. I think its a very important issue.

Grand Island, Lincoln, La Vista, Bellevue, all have the rule.

This can't be twisted to say "the Police Union doesn't like Jim Vokal". He voted for their police contract. He voted for "spiking" -- they're not mad at him about that.

They want the city to be safer, that's their job. And when you've got 70% recidivism with sexual predators, high profile risk people, living in neighborhoods where kids walk.

The police don't want to be accused of not doing their job by not having the tools and the resources as Sheriff Dunning asked them to deploy -- because the Sheriff has 43 sheriffs on road patrol in the outside-the-city-limits part of our city. They don't patrol the City of Omaha -- that's the Omaha Police's job under our joint agreement with the Sheriff.
So, I think the issue is important here. And what your position is on the issue has nothing to do with overtime or all these other things that are being obfuscated here.

If I get to be Mayor, I'm going to ask the City Council to reconsider that decision. You handle "spiking" in the negotiations. You handle overtime by telling the Chief if you have a drive-by shooting, you handle overtime by taking it out of something else and keep your budget balanced.

Talking about finances is trying to cover up the record that's clear.

Let's talk about the issue: Are you for or against giving the police every single bit of resource and authority they need to deal with people who are repeat offenders and dangerous people that live in our community.

I think the vote was wrong. I commend Garry Gernandt and Jim Suttle for voting for it. They voted correctly for the safety of our city.

Note that Leavenworth Street noted in a post earlier today:
And frankly, according to the Nebraska Administrative Code, regarding Sexual Offender Registration, while it is the State Patrol's duty to verify that a convicted sexual offender is on the Registry, it states:

"Local law enforcement agencies are requested, but not required, to periodically verify that the registrant is still living at the listed address."


"Any law enforcement agency, court, or state agency finding evidence of Violations of the Act or these regulations may take any authorized law enforcement action."

That's it.

So, as near as we can tell, that "request" is still in effect. And Omaha Police can still do it, with or without the City Council's amendment.

Police Union vs. Vokal - Round 2

The Omaha Police Union has sent out another flyer targeting Mayoral candidate Jim Vokal.
See it to your right (click to enlarge).

So, coupled with the one from a few days ago, let's take a look at these on a few different levels.


First, the new flyer.
Factual? Did Vokal vote to block Omaha cops from "keeping an eye" or "monitoring" sexual offenders? Well, we don't think that's the effect.

The sex offender law passed by the Omaha City Council addresses where a convicted (and known) sex offender can live, how they register, can't live near a school, etc. etc. Now beyond the helpfulness of this law in the first place (really, just because a sex offender doesn't live near a school is that going to stop him from, oh, driving to one?), what was the proposed ordinance going to do?

Let's read what got voted down by Vokal (and Brown, and Sigerson, and Thompson, and Welch) , and what the Police Union is (supposedly) up in arms about:

"The Omaha Police Department shall assist the County Sheriff and the State Patrol in the enforcement, within the City, of the Sex Offender Registration Act of this state."

So now, without that amendment added, it is still the primary duty of the State Patrol and Sheriff to "verify" where registered sex offenders live, etc.

But does that mean Omaha Police can't arrest that guy standing next to the playground in their mailer? Of course not.

And frankly, according to the Nebraska Adminstrative Code, regarding Sexual Offender Registration, while it is the State Patrol's duty to verify that a convicted sexual offender is on the Registry, it states:

"Local law enforcement agencies are requested, but not required, to periodically verify that the registrant is still living at the listed address."


"Any law enforcement agency, court, or state agency finding evidence of Violations of the Act or these regulations may take any authorized law enforcement action."

That's it.

So, as near as we can tell, that "request" is still in effect. And Omaha Police can still do it, with or without the City Council's amendment. (We don't claim to be experts on all of this, so if there is something we are missing in this, please feel free to argue your point in the comments.)


So, what is this all about then, from the Police Union? 

Uh, it's ALL about political payback and revenge for Vokal's opposition on the pension and spiking issue kids. 100%.

The Police Union is getting even with Vokal and they are jumping on this issue to do it. (Issue? Maybe. We'll discuss more below.)

So the first flyer they sent out was fairly reprehensible. "What is Jim Vokal hiding?" Really, Police Union? Why not just say, "Jim Vokal supports the Sexual Predators Union and is sending them to eat your children." That would have been more subtle.

And the crap about the number of sex offenders in his district? As if that has anything to do with anything.

Come on.

So how about the newer flyer?

As far as the image and the language of the flyer, we're not that shocked. This is more run of the mill stuff.

Of course, the photos of all the at-large sexual offenders on the back sort of cracks us up.

See, the implication is that if Vokal had just let the cops check to see if the paperwork was up to date on these guys, they wouldn't be free now.

Uh...wait a minute. If the cops don't know where they are, then shouldn't they just check the Sexual Offender Registry? Oh wait, either they never registered, and "monitoring" them wouldn't have been possible, or they're now gone, and monitoring them is not possible.

Oh, and by the way, from KETV:
The flier said the 15 sex offenders are in hiding. But, KETV NewsWatch 7 was able to locate five of them. Michael Suggs has been in federal custody since October. Benji Temple, Jr., is currently in the Nebraska state prison system. Kenneth Wise and James Monie are in the Douglas County jail.

Oh well.


Again, we believe the statements on the flyers may be factually false. But let's say it is true, that the Police are now prevented from checking to see if a convicted and registered sexual offender is keeping his paperwork up to date.  That there is a real issue at stake.

Well, let's jump over to the response from Hal Daub, who has chosen to get himself involved in all of this.

Now, first, keep in mind that the Daub campaign said that they had no involvement in the ads, and were offended that anyone would suggest that. OK. We're fine with that.

So the other day, Scott Voorhees asked Daub if he would condemn the ads.

Daub's response was:

"I don't like the idea of that kind of approach to an issue."

He then went on to say why he would have supported the amendment and how he could have worked around the spiking issue.

Now, we agree with Hal that this "issue" can be argued. As noted above, is it an "issue"? Yes, it is.

It was deliberated by the Council and the Mayor and the Police Chief. The Union made their position known. And it was finally voted on by the Council. The issue itself is certainly worthy of discussion, and Vokal should have to defend his vote on it, just like he should have to on anything else he has voted on. Same with Suttle. Same with Daub.

Now Hal gave the reasons why he supported it -- mainly because the Sheriff can use the help and it is a public safety issue. is where Hal blew it.

The point of all this isn't just the "issue". It is how everyone is being portrayed.

The Police Union now looks like it is just trying to scare people in order to support spiking, and that they're vengful.

Vokal looks like he is soft on crime and is forced into a defensive position.

And Daub...well. Here is what Hal SHOULD have said:

"Scott, I do denounce this flyer. I know Jim Vokal, and I've met his family. Jim Vokal would never want to do anything that would endanger the lives of his kids, and this flyer by the Police Union implies that he somehow supports that. And I think they should issue an apology.

But I will say, that notwithstanding this despicable mailer, I think Jim Vokal voted wrong on this issue. I can understand that he may have been concerned about spiking, but this amendment still provided an important element of public safety. And he could have avoided the spiking issue by (however it was that he explained this). Just because we don't like who supports a law, doesn't mean the law itself is bad or wrong. I would have worked to get around the spiking issue and enhance public safety, as I've done in my history as Mayor..."

So, am I saying Daub should have thrown the Police Union under the bus on this?

Yes, I'm saying Daub should have thrown the Police Union under the bus. (Though he'd still be supporting them.)

And here's why:

When Hal Daub lost to Mike Fahey, was it because people didn't think Hal was smart enough for the job? Of course not. Was it because people didn't think he had enough ideas? Yeah right. Was it because they didn't think he worked hard enough? Pfft.

No, he lost a very close race because of the perception that he was angry and/or mean and/or combative -- particularly with that City Council.

So, now on the first blow up of the campaign, everyone will look to see if this is a trick of the same old Hal Daub. Is he the nicer mellower Daub, or is he up to his old tricks? And like it or not, many people believe that he, personally, is responsible for the flyers. That is the perception by many, like it or not.

If he wants to beat that perception, he has to play this sort of eruption differently. He needs to be squeaky-nice, but can still be the smartest guy in the room. People WANT him to be the smartest guy in the room. But they don't want him to be the nastiest as well. And to do that, he needs to go MUCH harder on the "nice" than just "I don't like that approach".


While we're giving political advice on this, we would also say to Jim Vokal that telling KPTM that he voted against it because he believes police time is better spent fighting gangs and gun, ain't the way to approach this.

You can't say that police should ignore sexual offenders because other stuff is more important. You just can't say it. You say, the police are already helping, or that you want to look for another way to make it work, or some such. You hammer that this was just a spiking issue. 

People are freaked out by the mysterious sexual offender who looks like a regular guy, but might attack their kids. You gotta understand that.  (Like this WOWT story last night hammered home.)

Vokal's statement, straying from the spiking point, may have just screwed up his position on this -- going from "spiking politics" to "voting issue". 


Oh and where's Jim Suttle in all this? Standing on the sidelines, saying he won't talk about his plans for the police pensions. Biding his time.  Giving the same non-response about needing jobs to fight crime.

And hey, Hal even said he appreciated Suttle's toboggan run plan because, at least he is coming up with ideas.  Yeah, riiiiiiight.   If Suttle makes it into the general election, we don't think Hal will be taking that tact. 

It's pretty clear both Vokal and Daub think the other is the one to beat. It will be interesting to see how slippery Jim Suttle can really be.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Johanns for Daub

Is Mike Johanns a Hal Daub man? It would seem so.

Daub is holding a fund raiser in Washington, D.C. on February 26th, and Senator Johanns is listed as a "special guest" at the event. That doesn't mean he'll be going door to door for Hal, but it's a pretty good indication of who he supports.

Remember too that Daub dropped out of the Senate race back in September of 2007 as the momentum of the Johanns Juggernaut was forming.  At the time, Daub pledged his support for Johanns. 

With all of his bipartisan leanings these days, wonder if Rock Star Ben Nelson will stop by...

**UPDATE 1:15 pm**
On the Scott Voorhees show on KFAB yesterday, Daub stated that Johanns is "endorsing and supporting" his candidacy for Mayor.  Daub also denied any quid-pro-quo with Johanns after he dropped out of the Senate race. 


The other day KMTV's Joe Jordan was trying to make a case for another Democrat to jump into the Omaha Mayor's race.

His theory was that if another Dem jumped in, that would in essence make it a partisan primary between Republicans Daub and Vokal, and Suttle and the other Dem.

He went on to say, "With Vokal's ability to pick off Democrats likely to drop, one could easily argue that Daub, who has a load of markers among Omaha Republicans, beats Vokal."

Hmm. Except that if we're talking about the general, then that doesn't make any sense.

If we're talking about the primary -- well, Vokal's poll (which Jordan was referencing) already shows Daub beating Vokal in the primary.

It could, in theory, mean Vokal gets fewer Dem votes and then loses to Suttle. But that doesn't make any sense by those numbers.

Anyway, as near as we can tell, Jordan's main point was to bring in another Democrat.

Our sources tell us that the other Dem who is attempting to dial for dollars is attorney and OPPD board member John Green.

But our guess is that it is probably too late for Green to make a realistic run. Anything's possible, we suppose, but we just don't see it happening.


Today is the deadline for incumbent City Council candidates to file for office.

Frank Brown, Garry Gernandt, Franklin Thompson and Chuck Sigerson have all filed.

Jim Suttle, Jim Vokal and Dan Welch are not running for re-election.

The deadline for non-incumbents to file is March 2nd. We'll try to have some sort of update on the bazillion Omahans who want to be on the City Council at that time.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Cops vs. Vokal

The Omaha Police Officers' Association has attacked Mayoral candidate Jim Vokal via a mailer. See it here (click for larger version):


First lets get to the flyer itself: "What is Jim Vokal hiding from?"

Well, the answer by the Omaha Police Officer's Association is, SEX OFFENDERS! (Possibly in his basement!)

Huh? This doesn't make a lick of sense.
(But picture old lady voter opening up her mail and mouthing, "Oh, my!")

Well, here's the reality of this thing. It is the State Patrol and the Douglas County Sherrif's responsibility to monitor sex offenders. The Omaha Police (Union) wanted to help to monitor these offenders.

Well, the Union says it's to keep the streets safer. And we don't doubt that's part of it.
But.... could another part be to spike their hours to increase pensions? Hmm. You can think about that.

Now, here's the other part of all this: Who ELSE was for this plan?



And not...THE MAYOR OF OMAHA (click to see his letter to Council President, Dan Welch, on this issue, to the right.)


And not, FIVE of SEVEN City Council members (including Thompson and Sigerson who voted with Vokal on this; Suttle voted against the Mayor and Chief of Police -- but didn't get a mailer aimed at them.)

As Emily Litella might say, "Oh. Well that's much different. Never mind."

See coverage on this from:
KETV, WOWT, KMTV, OWH (though they chose to bury their story on B4 of the Midlands section...)


So we will dive right in and say we have no problem defending Jim Vokal against this attack. There's little to nothing behind it, there's obviously a vengeance factor on the part of the Union (Vokal wants to pare back the pensions) and its completely out of left field.

But we are also not looking to the Hal Daub campaign, as some have, to blame for this attack.

Why not?

Well, for one, we are inclined to take him at his word for this from the OWH:
"Daub issued a statement saying no one associated with his campaign had anything to do with the police mailing."

Then there's the issue of the wisdom behind this attack. On the face of it, there is a very good chance it would backfire, and probably already has. The accusations don't pass the smell test and then when reasonable people look at the history of it, they are going to call b.s.

We don't think the Daub campaign is that short-sighted.

And, for what it's worth the OPOA sent the same piece out against Councilman Frank Brown too.


Onto other things Omaha Mayor... both Vokal and Daub were recently on the Big Show with Matt Perault and Travis Justice on Big Sports 590.

Now say what you want, but these interviews, on a sports radio show, were as in-depth as anything you'll see on any other radio show, TV piece or newspaper article. Frankly, more so. Each candidate was allowed to give detailed answers, Perault and Justice asked good follow-ups and the candidates were allowed to speak freely on the issues without being edited.

Being a sports show, the main focus of each interview was the new stadium and the Omaha Royals. Vokal's money quote was that the chance of keeping the Royals in Omaha was, "between slim and none and slim has stopped returning our calls." He doesn't think Daub is being up-front with the voters on the real chances of keeping the Royals.

Daub, on the other hand, spoke in classic rapid-fire Haldaub fashion about the strength of keeping the Royals in downtown, even in a big stadium, and believes that he has a plan to keep them. He wouldn't give out that plan though (and has said that he doesn't want to negotiate in public).

Daub also threw out that he talked to Pete Ricketts recently -- brother in the new Ricketts family owned Chicago Cubs -- and told Ricketts that he wants him to bring the Iowa Cubs to Omaha. We weren't sure if this was tongue in cheek, or if this is some sort of plan. (And we're fairly sure that the Ricketts family wouldn't have control over that decision.)

(Hey, how about the Royals AND Cubs at the new stadium? Now THERE's a full schedule...)

Daub also said he told Pete he'd like to have AmeriTrade buy the naming rights, and he'd like to get the Chicago Cubs in for an exhibition game.

What Hal, the Pope isn't good enough for you? (see, you just talk to the Archbishop and...)

Click here to listen to the interviews:

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Vokal poll: Daub in 3-way, Vokal in 2-way

The Jim Vokal for Mayor campaign sent out a poll conducted over the weekend of January 24-25, 2009.

The poll of 432 likely voters showed the following:

If election were held today who would you vote for?

Hal Daub: 33%
Jim Vokal: 27%
Jim Suttle: 15%
Not sure/Refused: 26%

If the election were held today between Daub and Vokal, who would you vote for?

Jim Vokal 43%
Hal Daub 35%
Not Sure/Refused 22%

Interesting stuff.

Other data from Vokal's poll:

The poll had a breakdown of:

Democrats: 46%
Republican: 41%
Independent: 12%

Male: 48%
Female: 52%

And, interestingly, the City Council district breakdown was as follows:
1 (Suttle): 18%
2 (Brown): 6
3 (Vokal): 14
4 (Gernandt): 13
5 (Welch): 12
6 (Thompson): 24
7 (Sigerson): 14

Marin of Error is +/- 4.5%

In the OWH, the Daub and Suttle campaigns both said (really, both?) that the Vokal poll was "outdated".


Want to see the entire summary?
Well, click here, friends!
And, we're even going to embed it at teh end of this post, so you can just scroll down!
(Yes, yes, you're welcome. No, YOU'RE the best.)


Our analysis?

Well, first off, this is Vokal's polling firm, so Daub and Suttle are both going to say it's slanted, or no good or whatever.
That's fine, but at least lets see some reasoning behind that. Otherwise, we see no reason to discount what seems to be a valid poll, using standard polling analysis. (Which we'll assume was used here. This isn't an internet poll or a, hurumph, robo-call poll.)

Second, it shows what most of already know: Hal Daub is a polarizing figure in Omaha politics.

Some people love him -- 51% favorables, with 15% saying he's "one of the best".
But, he also has (compared to the challengers) high unfavorables, at 37%.
And only 12% couldn't rate/didn't know/not sure on Daub.

Compare that to Vokal, where 32% couldn't come up with an opinion on him.
(55% said they didn't have any thoughts on Suttle. Ouch.)

Third, it shows that Daub has a decent lead in the three-way race, but potentially, Vokal takes the lead in a Daub-Vokal matchup.

Now, we say "potentially", because there was a whopping 22% who were unsure in the head to head matchup. That is quite a few to be persuaded.

And that is what the campaign is for.

Finally, we note the timing on this.

Back on January 23rd, we had a commenter who has seemed to have inside info, give "Daub" poll numbers as follows:
Daub: 41%
Vokal: 21%
Suttle: 23%

Then the Vokal camp came out with a "flash poll", taken using a robo-caller, that showed the following:
Daub: 38%
Vokal: 39%
Suttle: 22%

And again, Vokal's poll today (from January 24-25) shows
Daub: 33%
Vokal: 27%
Suttle: 15%

Now all we can say is, all of these are waaaay different.
Hey, and guess what? These polls were taken right around the time that both Daub and Vokal had their first TV ads on the air.
And Suttle hasn't even been up yet. And Pope Toboggans be damned, you gotta figure he'll get closer.

So, like it or not, this race is still a free-for-all.
Can Daub hold the lead? Can Vokal pull close enough? Can Suttle pull within the other two?

And what of those undecided voters?

Stay tuned kids!

The poll:
Vokal Poll 021009

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Elect him, and they will come

Omaha Mayoral candidate Hal Daub held a press conference this morning to introduce his Economic Development plan for Omaha.

We are not going to get into the pluses or minuses of the plan here, except to say that we always like some detail in these kind of things to get people talking about different ideas. (Except that we note that Daub's plan is strikingly Pope and/or toboggan-run free...)

Here were a few items in Daub's plan that caught our eyes:
"I will make a deal to bring the Royals to the baseball stadium," Daub told a press conference this morning. "We all have to roll up our sleeves to make it happen."
Update: 10 pm:

The quote in the OWH now reads:
"I will try to keep the Royals in Omaha if a deal hasn't already been made."
That's much different, no?

But then after we looked at the video from KMTV ourselves (it was Joe Jordan who asked the question), we get the full quote as:
"If a decision hasn't been made [between Sarpy and the Royals] by the time it becomes my privilege to become Mayor of this great city, I will make a deal to keep the Royals."
It's like the freaking telephone game! We're surprised the OWH's quote didn't have "purple monkey dishwasher" at the end...


  • Expand the Qwest Center convention space on the north end by adding 50,000 to 100,000 square fee of high ceiling show space
  • Work to add 800 - 1,000 hotel rooms
  • Add a basketball complex to Zorinsky Lake
  • Renovate the downtown library
Of course you can read Daub's entire plan and his release in the OWH, the area's top news source.

Oh wait. You CAN'T?
Hmm. We always thought that is what NEWSpapers were for.

(Well, you can at least go there to get their top gripes about Facebook.)

OK, then you can click HERE to read Daub's entire presser, via us.
You're welcome.


We get complaints every once in a while that Leavenworth Street is too concerned about politicians' hair and appearance.
Well, darnit, we've got a reputation to uphold.

And with that we link you to the Sparkle Pony website which honored First District Congressman Jeff Fortenberry as the winner of the "Best Congressional Hairdo, Male Division, 2009"!

Congrats Fort!

(But, yikes! the close-up on that official portrait....)


If you've been unwired from the internets lately, be sure you check out one of the many out-takes, and remixes, of President Obama reading his book, "Dreams From My Father".

You see, the Prez read his book for audio-books, etc., and the book contains bad-words. And POTUS read 'em. And it's relatively chuckle-worthy.

Click here for potty-mouth.

(WARNING: Bad words said aloud. Consenting adults only!)

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Thursday, February 05, 2009


We noted a story today where Facebook is apparently struggling for profitability.  Apparently, though it has 150 million people telling each other what they're doing right now, they can't figure out how to cash in.

And that got us thinking about the various candidates who have Facebook pages. (Some of our commenters were bragging about who had more "Friends". And just to let you know that a Facebook Friend and $4.75 will get you a small coffee at Starbucks...)

So, just for the goofyness of it, we note that on Facebook...
Jim Suttle has 230 supporters. 
Jim Vokal has 197 supporters. 
Hal Daub has 142 supporters...but has two other pages (for some reason) on which each has 46 supporters. We didn't have the patience to see how many of these overlap, but he may then have somewhere between 142 and 234 supporters.

So what does all this mean? Diddly.
Did you know that Jim Esch has 1,126 Facebook supporters, while Lee Terry has 198?
How'd that work out for each of them?
Or that Jeff Fortenberry and Max Yashirin each have 328?
(And we'll not make a big deal between "Friends" and "Supporters", though we understand the difference.)

In any case, here's what we CAN gain from Facebook:

Jim Vokal's favorite movie is Shawshank Redmption, he likes U2 and Etta James (who is threatening to whoop Beyonce's ass), and his favorite quote is Gahdi's:
"An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching."

Hal Daub's favorite movies include the Bourne trilogies, he likes B.B. King and Chopin, and one of his favorite quotes is Churchill's:
"If you're not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative at 40, you have no mind."

Jim Suttle...apparently thinks you should mind your own damn business and get back to work.

Well, that was fun, right?

We see that Jim Suttle has fixed his website up a little.
Our question now is, who are those "Omahans", waving American flags and gazing up at...Suttle?
(Just a little overboard, no?)


A couple of campaign video notes:

Jim Vokal has a new video up on his website (and YouTube) where he discusses his solutions to the police and fire pension fund problem. And it's a nice summary and all but....

The production quality is just horrendous. First, it looks to be filmed on a pocket camera. There is no additional lighting. The sound is awful -- no external microphones were apparently used. It sounds like Vokal is in a tunnel. Frankly, it's Jerry Odom-esque

And then there's the fact that Vokal is clearly reading everything from some sort of cue cards/teleprompter. His speaking voice isn't natural at all and it detracts from the message. (And then there's the fact that it's four and a half minutes long.)

So, come on guys! We know it is expensive to get a camera crew in. But spend a couple of bucks on it if you're going to put it out there. And please don't have Jim reading to the camera. We like the "directly addressing the camera" thing, but if you can't do it (well) without notes, don't do it.

Instead, try putting up bullet points or pictures, and narrate over it. Or just make it dramatically shorter. Chop it up and have him make each point off the top of his head, then edit it together. There's not a kid with a Mac that could whip this together? (And get it under a couple minutes or so. Over four is a looong time to ask people to watch.)

We don't ask for much.


And then, we'll just throw out to the Daub campaign, that we see Dave Nelson from Secret Penguin video's has left the scene. Nelson gave one of the testimonials (that we like) on Daub's site. Nelson spoke about Daub's support for the skatepark while he was Mayor.

But apparently Nelson wasn't happy that the Daub campaign didn't use Secret Penguin's services (or an Omaha web firm's, so he says) to create their webpage. But then, as we noted the other day, Jim Suttle's campaign hired Secret Penguin to do an extra webpage for their campaign. And voila, Nelson became a Suttle supporter!

And poof went his vid from the Daub page.

Ah well. We still like the other six.


Chuck Hagel will apparently become a professor at Georgetown University.
Well...we always knew he was good at lecturing people...

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Lots about CASH in the Omaha Mayor's race.

Candidates were required to file their 2008 fund raising and spending reports with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission .

Here's what we have discovered:

Hal Daub had a relatively commanding lead in fundraising in 2008. He raised over $300,000 -- about $70,000 more than Councilman Jim Suttle and double that of Councilman Jim Vokal. He got big contributions from Hawkins Construction ($25K), Union Pacific ($20K) and his former MECA board member David Sokol ($10K) (amongst others).

Now, we say "relatively" commanding lead, because Daub also SPENT a lot of money during 2008. He went through $142,000 of that $320,000 in 2008. Now keep in mind, that number does NOT include cash spent on his TV ads in January of 2009. So his Cash on Hand (COH) number as of today, not counting any additional receipts, will likely be lower than the $178,000 listed.

For what it's worth, Daub spent $50K on salaries and another $20K on consulting services from former Omaha City Councilman (and now Arizona resident) Jim Cleary.

Another big chunk for Daub was $16K spent on a poll in May. Of course he then took that poll and showed it to donors to strengthen his positions. Sometimes you gotta spend money to raise money.

Now these are all probably necessary expenditures, but it does show that someone could be sneaking up on Daub.


And that's Jim Suttle.

Suttle's reports show him having raised $247,000 -- but in 2008, he only spent $67,000. That leaves him with COH to the tune of $180,000 -- essentially neck and neck with Daub. Keep in mind that while Suttle has not yet spent any money on TV, these are all pre-January numbers and Daub hadn't spent any yet either.

Though it's not as if Jim Suttle hasn't spent money either. The problem with Suttle's report is just WHAT he spent the money on.

To get a taste of this, we can see that Suttle paid, "Jim Suttle" $13,181 in 2008 for "Expenses". What Expenses you might ask? Well, you're apparently going to have to ask, because that is as detailed as his report gets.

And then there's the $75K that he has paid to Clear Communications Partners. What do these guys do? Well...Suttle paid them "Retainer Expenses". Then there was two months worth of "Consulting" (ok, we'll assume that). And finally there was "various expenses" and "associated costs". That's pretty much transparent reporting, eh?

(Oh and by the way, what's with the "Loan" info in Schedule C? Suttle lent the campaign $45K. Then, according to the summary, it was all paid back. But then in the Schedule it says only $25,000 was paid back. But that's OK, because around $214K was transferred from the "Friends of Jim Suttle" account to the "Suttle for Mayor" account. How do we know this? Well, guessing. Because it's not detailed anywhere -- not in his receipts to the Mayor campaign nor in the expenditures for the "Friends". But, you know, whatever...)

[Update 2/3/09, 2:00pm
It's unclear to us how complete the documents on the NADC site are.  For that reason, for now we hold off on any criticism where a report looks to be incomplete.]

A few notable contributions to the Suttle campaign include $10K from David Sokol in September 2008 (about six months after Suttle lead the opposition to the new stadium), $1000 from former Senator Dave Karnes, $1,000 from Hawkins and $2,000 from U.P.


Jim Vokal's report shows that he didn't get many of the heavy-hitters like Daub and Suttle. A few notables were $3,000 from developer Jay Noddle, $6,000 from HDR PAC (Jim Suttle's former company), $500 from Dave Karnes and $500 from David Sokol. A chuckle-worthy one is $325 from three different contributions in June and July of 2008 from one Hal Daub. Vokal hadn't announced yet then, and we'll assume Hal was hoping he'd stay out.

Vokal's numbers also do not represent what he spent on TV in January 2009, so, like Daub and Suttle, we would expect his present numbers to be lower. How much lower? We don't know.

Some of Vokals expenditures include $10K paid to Blackwell Sanders (Hal Daub's law firm) for legal expenses related to (we'll assume) fighting the charge he used public space for an old ad (which he won). There is also $26K paid to Dresner Wickers for the production of his ads. We don't know whether the Daub or Suttle outlays represent those type of expenditures, but that can represent a chunk of change.

Also, other than payments for their consultant, there are no expenditures for staff salaries represented, though there seem to be at least three staffers who would begin getting paid starting in January.

In the end (of this report) Vokal is down about $80K to Daub and Suttle (though what everyone spent in January will make a big difference on those numbers). It looks like Vokal has some serious catching-up to do on the cash front.

Is Vokal too far behind in the money race to make it a difference maker? Does Suttle have enough cash to make a splash on the scene, or do voters already know plenty about him? Can Daub parlay his fund raising into vote-getting?

You're an opinionated bunch. You tell us.

(And here is the OWH's take on the whole thing.)


It seems that while he may not be on TV (that we've seen), Jim Suttle has done some sort of video-making.  And there's a decent chance that it was Suttle himself who made them using his camera phone, because the vid is about as impressive as his suck-tastic campaign website.

The video shows various business peeps giving testimonials about Suttle. But the lighting is poor, there's some bad music overlayed, and the productions values pretty much blow. Compare that to the videos on Daub's website or the Vokal ads, and you can see what we mean.

And then while Daub probably has the top website, and Vokal's is clean and clear, the aforementioned Suttle site if just awful. It reminds us of a cheap fast-food website, it has the goofy unwieldy photo section and is just plain dull.

What is interesting is that he then spent four grand with a local company, Secret Penguin, to develop some sort of alternate site. That site, at, is very hip, cool and has some funky graphics. But...what's the point? It lists some generic platitudes of Suttle's and while it looks cool, we don't see where it fits into a campaign strategy. Why they didn't just have Secret Penguin re-do their whole site (as long as they were going to blow $4K), we don't know.


And remember our old Congressman Lee Terry? Haven't heard from him in a while, except here and there on the bailout stories. Well, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wants you to 'member.

They're now running ads saying that Terry is mean and awful and un-Obamaic because he joined the bipartisan group that opposed the partisan Democrat bunch who want to spend a ridiculous amount of your money on stuff as fast as possible.

Of course, the horse has already left the barn on that House vote, so it's strange that they're bothering attacking Terry now.

Especially when the guy they SHOULD be hitting is one Senator E. Benjamin Nelson! 

Heck, Nelson is the guy shooting his mouth off against the plan of his newly ordained party leader. Shouldn't they be leaning on Nellie? Heck, they NEED his vote. Terry joined Democrats in voting NAY in the House. But they need Nelson in order pass it in the Senate.

So please people, write and call your Senator. And tell him that he should...well... What's his position again?

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