Thursday, March 31, 2011
While we continue to believe that Nabity's math is fuzzy if not just plain disingenuous, we were recently told that his word isn't as good as he claims. One of the folks/groups that helped Nabity's failed recall effort distributed several thousand fliers with the understanding that they would be reimbursed for their effort. Guess what? They weren't. We must have missed that unpaid obligation on his N.A.D.C. report.....
"Nebraskans have a unique opportunity to corral government spending and lessen their tax burden, without the animosity seen in Wisconsin and other states, by encouraging the passage of real CIR reform this legislative session. Lathrop's proposal does nothing to lessen the authority of the CIR to substitute their decisions for that of local representatives. No longer should the Nebraska taxpayer be denied the right to decide how much government they can afford."
If this is the best that Senator Lathrop and his cohorts, including always liberal Brad Ashford, can do, then we hope the Legislature has the courage to vote it down. If they pass it we hope Governor Heineman will veto it. A pig is still a pig no matter how much lipstick you put on it.....
Sarpy County's gain may be Douglas County's loss under this plan as we understand that Legislative District 9, that of term-limited Gwen Howard, would be moved to Sarpy County, leaving Omaha/Douglas County with possibly one less legislative district and thus one less senator supporting Omaha/Douglas efforts.
For Douglas County Republicans there might be additional concerns as we're told State Senator Mello (whose district now includes a small part of Sarpy) is supportive of the plan. Mello never supports anything that isn't beneficial to him and the Democratic Party.
Bottom line on this potential plan is Sarpy gets what it wants, Douglas may lose a senator and at least one Democrat may be happy.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Financial advisor Dave Ramsey put forth an interesting scenario recently on his nationally syndicated radio call-in program. Taking a hypothetical phone call from John Q. Public and his wife, We the People, in one brief illustration Ramsey demonstrated that no one in Washington, D.C., is really serious about cutting spending.
Ramsey has a way of boiling large numbers down to their essence and showing us the absurdity of our debt crisis. In his radio example, his callers — "John" and "We" — are earning $58,000 a year. However, they are spending $75,000 a year. More importantly, they have credit card debt totaling $327,000. In fact, $10,000 of the family's income goes just to pay interest on those credit cards.
"Now, what would you expect my advice to this couple to be?" Ramsey asked his radio audience. He then proceeded to say that if he followed the current model of "cuts" being proposed in Washington, his recommendation would be that they reduce their annual expenditures by a mere $3,000 — all the way down to $72,000.
Ramsey has calculated that these numbers are in exact proportion to the actions of our federal government in dealing with our deficit. However, instead of terms like "billions" and "trillions," to which no one can relate, Ramsey has reduced the numbers to one we can all comprehend. Anyone with a brain can figure out that a family making $58,000 and spending $75,000, with $327,000 in credit card debt, is headed for bankruptcy — or worse.
This, most people would agree, is the classic definition of insanity. And yet, many Americans go merrily along pretending that somehow the reason for our debt is the war in Iraq, or the war in Afghanistan, or tax breaks for the rich or whatever other cliché entrenched Washington politicians want to throw out during election years. The truth is that we could eliminate every federal program in Washington and we still could not pay for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security at the current levels — and still provide for the defense of the country. The truth is that this nation cannot pay its bills, and like John Q. Public and his wife, We the People, we are in for a rude awakening when those bills come due.
It has become obvious over the last two years that Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress have no intention of being serious about the realities of our federal spending. Letting them set our national priorities is — in the words of satirist P.J. O'Rourke — tantamount to giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
It is tempting to believe that John Boehner and his House Republicans are any more serious than the Democrats about making the tough decisions to keep this nation from falling into a financial pit from which we can never escape; but all one has to do is look at their proposals to know they are not the least bit serious. They are as addicted to spending as Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who ran our spending levels up to the point where we are now spending $1.5 trillion more than we are taking in this year. Meanwhile, Boehner and company want us to cheer about $6 billion in cuts?
We cannot continue in serious times with unserious people representing us in Washington. They have taken the United States of America from the greatest, strongest, most prosperous country on the face of the earth and turned it into a debtor nation. They have taken us from a shining city on a hill to a banana republic.
As Dave Ramsey concluded in his lesson to his listening audience, it is the 9,000-pound elephant sitting on our foot in the living room. ______________________________________________________________________________
© 2011 by Doug Patton
______________________________________________________________________________ Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself much more often than not. Now working as a freelance writer, his weekly columns of sage political analysis are published the world over by legions of discerning bloggers, courageous webmasters and open-minded newspaper editors. Astute supporters and inane detractors alike are encouraged to e-mail him with their pithy comments at email@example.com.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
There Those North Omaha Jobs Go). Now we see that instead of expanding in North Omaha Distefano Manufacturing is moving to 108th and the Interstate. Sure, most of those employees will move west, but any new jobs created will probably be filled by folks from other than North Omaha. And, of course, we'll have another empty building in North Omaha.
Friday, March 18, 2011
With that said, here is the rest of the article:
"The sweeping legislation, which calls for an annual spending cap and a legally mandated balanced budget, with some exceptions, will be unveiled Thursday by five GOP senators: Jon Kyl (Ariz.), John Cornyn (Texas), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Mike Lee (Utah) and Pat Toomey (Pa.). The proposed amendment goes beyond requiring a simple balanced budget each year, and seeks to enact a series of other fiscal reforms.
Under the proposal, the president would be forced to submit a balanced budget to Congress each year. But Congress would also face certain constraints in its work to pass the budget.
The amendment would mandate that total outlays each year could not exceed total receipts by the government, unless both the House and Senate agree to an excess in outlays by a two-thirds vote. Any tax increase would also be required to pass both houses with the same two-thirds supermajority.
The Republican proposal would also cap spending each fiscal year at 18 percent of gross domestic product, a provision that could be waived by Congress during a time of war, or by a three-fifths majority of the House and Senate in a time of other military conflict.
Both the House and Senate would also be forced to cobble together three-fifths majorities to authorize an increase in the debt ceiling, according to the GOP measure.
The reforms would, if enacted, make it much tougher to authorize new spending.
The GOP amendment would need to be approved by a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate, a tough climb especially because Democrats control the Senate. Even if lawmakers somehow managed to advance the amendment, three-fourths of the states would still have to ratify it for the amendment to become part of the Constitution."
Much has changed since our launch of the 2012 Crystal Ball Presidential Ratings—and yet little has changed in this slow-starting campaign. We outlined all our cautions about early assessments in the January Crystal Ball, so we’ll just skip right to the red meat evaluation.
Assuming Republicans want to put forward a candidate who can fully compete with President Obama—if the electoral circumstances in 2012 allow it—then the GOP nominee is likely going to come from either Tier I or II, so we focus special attention there. In the past months we’ve lost a couple of Tier II candidates, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence and South Dakota Sen. John Thune. Pence is positioning himself instead for a run for Governor in his home state, while Thune has decided for now to focus on Senate leadership office. Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana gained the most from Pence’s non-candidacy decision, if in fact Daniels decides to make the race. Of course, Pence had intense conservative base support, so other conservatives in the field might have moved up a bit, too. Thune’s opt-out probably favors former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, given the overlap in Midwestern regional backing.
In Tier I, Mitt Romney remains the undisputed if underwhelming frontrunner, mainly due to lack of strong competition. The candidate who has moved up faster than anyone is Tim Pawlenty. Haley Barbour gives every sign of running hard, and he’s clearly in the top tier even though the Mississippi governor has not had a trouble-free couple of months. Naturally, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mitch Daniels will also be secure in Tier I if they actually pull the chute on a candidacy. The Beltway conventional wisdom says none of the three is running, but with “Beltway” attached to the appraisal, we all know to stay alert.
Still, Palin and Huckabee in particular have lost altitude as the GOP establishment, having concluded they won’t be on the ballot, moves to embrace others.
Daniels continues to receive the accolades of Beltway admirers, but equivocates every time he’s asked about actually running. In our experience, a politician who hems and haws about a presidential bid usually settles on “haw” (no).
The potential contender who insists he’s not running but who has the most juice in his revved engine is Chris Christie. Should he change his mind later in 2011, it is possible he could storm the field.
Newt Gingrich gives every sign of tossing his hat in—at long last, after a strip-tease lasting years. Yet his semi-not-quite-launch in Atlanta was a bobbled bust. Jon Huntsman rounds out our small Tier II. His money and ambition are towering, but we wonder if his ties to Obama and moderate views make his eventual share of the vote much smaller than he anticipates.
If the GOP, infused with Tea Party spirit, decides to move right (right off the cliff in November), then Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann could see their Tier III candidacies take off. Assisted suicide is illegal for individuals, but perfectly acceptable for political parties. Santorum is already sprinting, and Bachmann appears close to a White House bid. Santorum is a social issue warrior at a time when the nation doesn’t seem to be looking for it, and Bachmann has a Tea Party base but little else. (Her former governor, Tim Pawlenty, cannot be pleased by the potential in-state competition.)
Finally, Tier IV candidates—some real, some just possible—have no real chance to be nominated, but offer ideas and, in some cases, pure amusement for those of us following the 2012 round-up. Joining Ron Paul, John Bolton, Gary Johnson, Herman Cain, and Donald Trump is new candidate Buddy Roemer—former governor of the state most widely associated with political entertainment, Louisiana. Roemer and Cain got positive attention for good speeches at an Iowa gathering of social conservatives last week, which merits a “thumbs up”. But it’s difficult to believe, to the vanishing point, that the GOP will entrust its presidential nomination to either.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Whatever is in it, it will be bad for the taxpayers.
On Omaha's incompetent mayor (our words) and his quest to tax citizens more Heineman said that he was glad that Suttle's 'bad-neighbor' policy of taxing those outside the city (wheel tax) has been removed as an option by the legislature, that Suttle needs a 'good-neighbor' police that doesn't have one entity taxing another.
On Omaha's incompetent mayor (our words, again) and his request for an additional half-cent sales tax, Heineman continued to assert that it was a bad idea and he would veto.
Heineman indicated that Suttle had apparently asked how he was to develop a budget without his desired tax increases to which Heineman said, "I'll tell you how to balance your budget if you'll enact it!" Suttle apparently doesn't appreciate that offer of help nor the suggestions of many others.
On the C.I.R., Heineman again stated he wanted substantial reform or the business community would simply do away with it altogether (referendum).
On the future, Heineman noted that he has two major thrusts. First is economic development and second is educational improvement. On the current state of African American education he noted that the Omaha Public School system has the worst black/white educational gap in the country, anywhere. He suggested that Superintendent Mackiel doesn't get it.
Heineman was rightly proud in discussing Nebraska's prominence and that of many of its towns and cities in many categories. On tax climate, he noted that since 2008, three-fourths of all states have raised taxes while Nebraska didn't (sorry Jane Kleeb, New Nebraska Network, etal.). In fact, Heineman noted that Nebraska's business tax climate rating has improved under his governorship from 45th to 29th.
One of Heineman's most direct and frankly candid comments came on the issue of energy and oil. Heineman forcefully said that because of our nation's reliance on oil, "We are putting our sons and daughters in peril because our nation has no energy policy."
On Obamacare, the Governor wasted no words saying that, "It is a disaster for America and a disaster for Nebraska." He proudly noted that he was one of twenty-nine governors who actively joined in seeking its repeal. He continued by saying that Nebraska needs more flexibility in dealing with federal mandates like Medicaid.
We couldn't help but be impressed with Heineman's candor. While Larry Sabato (Sabato's Crystal Ball) might regard Heineman as a Tier 2 or Tier 3 potential candidate for the presidency, we can't think of a guy that from a policy standpoint, from an economic and trade record of accomplishments, from a tax-cutting standpoint, from an overall success standpoint and from a social issue standpoint would be more in tune with what the Republican Party needs as a candidate against the current resident of the White House come 2012. Yes, we were and are impressed.
The N.A.D.C. reporting of expenditures shows primarily those funds spent as an 'Independent expenditure (designated 'D' below) without any real designation of whom the money went to or for what purpose. Most expenditures simply show the money was spent on behalf of the original Mayor Suttle Recall Committee, although that committee never received any of those funds. We were able to establish from some late reporting where some of the monies went but there certainly isn't any reliable breakdown of who received the funds and where they went in many cases.
This is supposed to be the way the N.A.D.C. provides for clear reporting?
Here's a list of the dollar amount of expenditures, not including some $34,000 shown as expenditures on behalf of the Mayor Suttle Recall Committee for December of 2010
Reported expenditures on behalf of the MAYOR SUTTLE RECALL COMMITTEE
- 3,000.00 D
- 825.80 B
- 2000.00 B
- 2396.64 D
- 1060.09 D
- 435.19 D
- 55000.00 D
- 14469.56 B Polish Enterprises
- 9399.78 D Nebraska Strategy Group
- 1420.05 D Quality Press
- 2000.00 D Nebraska Strategy Group
- 4260.15 D
- 5077.78 D Postmaster
- 2448.29 D Nebraska Strategy Group
- 2500.00 D Strategy Group Media
- 1348.97 D Postmaster
- 5077.78 D Postmaster
- 10000.00 D
- 22287.70 D Company HQ (Brooklyn, IA)
- 2840.10 D Quality Press
- 540.35 D
- 2034.18 D Company HQ (Brooklyn, IA)
- 1500.00 B
- 482.52 D
- 393.73 D
- 7000.00 B
- 655.36 B
- 344.54 B
(1) Total Expenditures to or for the benefit of Nebraska
(non-federal) Candidates and B.Q. Close of Last Period $ 64717.72
(2) Total Expenditures to or for the benefit of Nebraska (non-federal) Candidates and B.Q. This Period
(To Summary of Disbursements, line 11(a)) $ 96080.84
(3) Total Expenditures to or for the benefit of Nebraska (non-federal) Candidates and
B.Q. for the Calendar Year to Date (Line 1 plus line 2) $ 160798.56
KEY: A - Direct Contribution to Candidate or Ballot Question B - In-Kind Contributions C - Loans D - Independent Expenditures
At best the N.A.D.C. reporting by Citizens for Omaha's Future is inadequate. In fact, we don't know whether Nabity or any other employees received compensation for their efforts.
Once again, it would be nice if someone from the media had the intellectual curiosity to follow up on this. It will also be interesting to see if the N.A.D.C. has the curiosity to ask for a better explanation of the spending.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Well, it seems there are some interesting names involved with this operation which apparently no one in the press has displayed interest in following up on (Heaven forbid any intellectual curiosity or reporting by the Douglas Street Rag, a.k.a. Omaha World Herald). Here's a couple names of interest: David Domina, Mike Boyle.
As you may recall Domina, a Norfolk lawyer has been a big player in state Democrat politics over the years and even ran for Governor if memory serves. On page 7 of Foley's Audit report we find that Dave Domina was the legal counsel for this group. Anyone heard his name mentioned? Where was he when these guys were spending their insured's tax dollars so recklessly?
Mike Boyle, on page 7, is described like Dave Domina as SLEBC Legal Counsel. It certainly appears from the commentary found on page 33 of the audit that Mike was less than cooperative in responding to Foley's requests:
"4. Lack of Cooperation and Board Oversight
Lack of Cooperation
In April 2010, shortly after the Legislative Performance Audit Committee authorized the APA to conduct – and, in fact, after preliminary work had already begun on – a performance audit
relating to the cost of health insurance coverage for State employees, Mike Boyle approached the APA with concerns related to the questionable expenditure of funds entrusted to SLEBC for
health insurance purposes. Since that time, however, SLEBC’s officers have displayed a marked
reluctance to cooperate with the APA’s efforts to carry out the recent audit, as the timeline below illustrates:
May/June 2010 The APA contacted the State Patrol administrative offices to obtain the name of a contact for the SLEBC health insurance plan. The State Patrol staff referred the APA to Harvey Wiltsey.
June 2010 The APA emailed a list of questions to Harvey Wiltsey.
July 14, 2010 Mike Boyle called the APA to explain that the situation between SLEBC and Harvey Wiltsey was complex. Lawsuits have been filed and attorneys are involved.
July 27, 2010 After several unanswered requests for information, the APA received a response to the initial request.
August 23, 2010 Mike Boyle provided the APA with detailed claims files he received from the third party administrator, Meritain. Both prescription and medical claims data were made available to the APA.
August 30, 2010 The APA sent Mike Boyle an email message indicating the difficulty in obtaining from SLEBC basic financial data necessary to perform the audit.
September 3, 2010 The APA requested again the assistance of Mike Boyle in obtaining the requested financial information. Mike Boyle responded, “As I said at the meeting, we want to cooperate with you fully.” At the same time, he questioned the APA’s authority to access the financial records requested due to HIPAA confidentiality requirements. Mike Boyle indicated he would not provide access to the financial records because of a disagreement between the Governor and the Director of DAS with the State Auditor over access to HIPAA records. Mike Boyle stated, “We need to slow down and see how this disagreement is resolved.”
September 3, 2010 The APA provided Mike Boyle with the relevant statutes regarding the APA’s access to records.
September 17, 2010 The APA sent a formal letter to Mike Boyle requesting any and all financial records related to SLEBC’s health insurance program.
October 12, 2010 The APA spoke with SLEBC’s current CPA, Mark Lynch, of Blackman and Associates, who indicated he was preparing a non-disclosure agreement for access to the financial records.
October 15, 2010 The APA received the non-disclosure agreement from Mike Boyle, which indicated in Section 2.11, as a prerequisite to the release of financial records, that the APA would agree to “hold SLEBC Harmless from any and all litigation and/or claims made by a member of SLEBC who alleges damage of any kind as a result of the audit being conducted by the Auditor.”
November 5, 2010 The APA provided Mike Boyle with a revised non-disclosure agreement.
November 14, 2010 Mike Boyle responded that the revised non-disclosure agreement was “reasonably good” but that SLEBC’s members did not want anyone to see their health-related information. Mike Boyle added, “We have not wavered in our desire to cooperate in completing an audit.”
November 15, 2010 The APA reminded Mike Boyle that he had already provided the APA with every prescription and medical claim incurred by every member of SLEBC’s health insurance plan and what the APA was currently requesting was financial data related to the plan. Mike Boyle and Brian Petersen agreed to attend a meeting at the APA’s office.
November 16, 2010 The APA provided notification that a financial audit would be initiated, in addition to the performance audit authorized by the Legislature. The APA also emailed Mike Boyle, expressing frustration with the continuous delays in obtaining the requested information. Mike Boyle responded, “We are still committed to full disclosure - except the names/illnesses of our members.” Limited information began flowing to the APA at this point.
November 23, 2010 The APA held an entrance conference meeting regarding the financial audits of the State’s four health insurance plans (State, University, State Colleges, and SLEBC). No one from the State Patrol or SLEBC attended.
STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT BARGAINING COUNCIL
EMPLOYEE HEALTH AND DENTAL FUNDS
COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
- 34 -
4. Lack of Cooperation and Board Oversight (Continued)
Despite Mike Boyle’s repeated assurances of full cooperation, the trail of events disclosed above reveals a concerted effort by SLEBC to impede the audit’s progress by unnecessarily delaying or even outright refusing, compliance with the APA’s request for important financial documentation and other relevant financial information."
Having taken note of this, the results of Omaha's campaign might have been much different had it not been for the inept advertising/sales pitch of Dave Nabity and his media/campaign associates. It might have been much different had the Wisconsin labor issues been in the news.
Loss or not, Omaha's current mayor and the majority of his council should be very nervous about 2013 when they inevitably continue to raise taxes this next fall and as they continue their efforts to socially engineer Omaha to their own liberal philosophies.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The following is his statement of potential conflicts from his Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission filing:
"I am involved in 3 private businesses. 1) As a private practice solo-attorney who has numerous clients with Agricultural interests and are unfavorable to regulation and taxation of their activities; 2) As a part owner and officer of Community Lottery Systems, Inc., a Nebraska Corporation, which operates, for a commission on gross proceeds, lotteries under the County and City Lottery Act for approximately 100 Nebraska cities, counties and villages united under a common governmental entity formed under the Interlocal Cooperation Act called the Nebraska Cooperative Government (NCG). The NCG has an interest in maximizing revenues to its members through alternatives to compulsory taxation, such as gaming. 3) As a part owner and office of Community Lottery Systems, Inc. (CIS), one of Nebraska's first rural Internet Service Providers and also a competing local exchange and interexchange licensee, CIS, along with the general public, has an interest in promoting a level playing field for all private telecommunications carriers, open networks, and authorization of Nebraska's public power companies and municipalities to engage in telecommunications activity for hire."
This sad excuse for a Republican apparently has less conflict in voting and supporting gambling interests to his own financial benefit than he does in promoting the efforts of his own party....Perhaps some in 'his' party will keep this in mind when his cronies bring forth more gambling legislation in the future.
"No More Earmarks!
As Nebraska's next United States Senator I will not seek any earmarks and will oppose all earmarks sought by others. Wheeler dealers like earmarks. Ben Nelson likes them a lot. But they are fundamentally wrong. They lead to scandals, as Senators seek earmarks for their friends and cronies. They are used to buy votes for bad legislation and grease the skids for vast deficit spending.
Under President Obama, assisted by Senator Ben Nelson, our nation is going in the wrong direction. It is the direction of vast budget deficits and heavy-handed federal government regulation. Nebraska's next United States Senator needs to be a genuine, lifelong conservative -- not a wheeler dealer, or a person whose core principles change from day to day or from year to year."
Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 - Vote Rejected (44-56)
The Senate rejected this House-passed continuing resolution that would have reduced spending by $57.5 billion over the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year. The current, short-term continuing resolution expires on March 18, 2011.
Sen. Mike Johanns voted YES
Sen. Ben Nelson voted NO
Monday, March 14, 2011
"Where: Lewis and Clark Landing (in Omaha)
When: Tuesday, Mar. 15, at 5:30 PM
Can you come?
Click below for more details and to RSVP:
What: Republican attacks on workers and public programs are escalating in Wisconsin and in Washington, D.C. We have to stand up to Defend the Dream! So on Tuesday, we're getting together in Omaha. At the event, we'll stand in solidarity by wearing Wisconsin red and white, hear from local speakers impacted by Republican attacks, and be a show of community force to stop this onslaught on the American Dream. A big crowd is crucial—please join us on Tuesday!"
And, it seems that doin' it in Omaha isn't enough for these thugs as they've also scheduled a demonstration in Lincoln. According to the Lincoln Journal Star:
"MoveOn will demonstrate in front of Lincoln's federal building Tuesday to protest cuts proposed in the federal budget and a recent law passed in Wisconsin limiting collective bargaining rights for public unions.
In a press release, MoveOn calls cuts to education and health care in the budget proposal "immoral" and dubs the Wisconsin law "a Republican power grab."
The rally will take place at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday outside the Robert Denney Federal Building on O Street. The group staged a similar rally last month outside the Capitol.
Also participating will be labor unions, Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign, True Majority, the Sierra Club and other organizations, according to a news release."
For all those naysayers, the Wisconsin bill is pretty reasonable, at least as described below courtesy of U.S.A. Today:
"Pension contributions: State, school district and municipal employees who pay into the Wisconsin Retirement System would be required to contribute 50% of the annual pension payment. The payment amount is estimated to be 5.8% of salary in 2011.
Health insurance contributions: State employees would be required to pay at least 12.6% of the average cost of annual health insurance premiums. The bill would require changes to the plan design to reduce current premiums by 5%. Local employers participating in the Public Employers Group Health insurance plan would be prohibited from paying more than 88% of the lowest cost plan.
Pension changes for elected officials and appointees: Pension calculation for elected officials and appointees would be the same as for state employees and teachers. Under the state constitution, the change would be effective for elected officials at the beginning of their next term of office.
General fund impact: The estimated $37 million in savings from implementing these provisions for state employees in the current fiscal year would be transferred to the general fund.
Collective bargaining: The bill would make various changes to limit collective bargaining for most public employees to wages. Total wage increases could not exceed a cap based on inflation unless approved by referendum. Contracts would be limited to one year and wages would be frozen until the new contract is settled. Collective bargaining units are required to take annual votes to maintain certification as a union. Employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues. These changes take effect upon the expiration of existing contracts. Law enforcement, fire employees and state troopers and inspectors would be exempt from these changes.
Quality Health Care Authority: The bill repeals the authority of home health care workers under the Medicaid program to collectively bargain.
Child care labor relations: The bill repeals the authority of family child care workers to collectively bargain with the state.
University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Board and Authority: The bill repeals collective bargaining for UWHC employees. State positions currently employed by the UWHC Board are eliminated and the incumbents are transferred to the UWHC Authority.
University of Wisconsin faculty and academic staff: The bill repeals the authority of UW faculty and academic staff to collectively bargain.
Authorize Department of Health Services to restructure program: The bill authorizes the Department of Health Services to make program changes notwithstanding limits in state law related to specific program provisions. The department is expected to develop new approaches on program benefits, eligibility determination and provider cost-effectiveness. The proposed changes would require approval through the Legislature's rule process before implementation. A previous version of the bill required only the approval of the Joint Finance Committee. The provision would end Jan. 1, 2015."
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
In concluding, Jacob notes: "The battle for freedom and democracy is not taking place just in a far off land in fast flickers on your television screen; it rages in a city hall and state capitol near you. And if we citizens ever stop fighting to protect and to enlarge our freedom and our control over our democratic republic, we will cease to be No. 1 in the world."
"Last week our great mayor attended the benefit for then comatose Nebraska State Trooper who later passed away at North High School. People who were attending the benefit spaghetti dinner were bringing in jars of pennies and asking for the jars back, weren't dressed to the greatest and probably couldn't afford to be giving money to the Troopers Family but were anyway. But who should arrive but our Mayor. He handed the person collecting the money at the door a ten dollar bill. He then asked for his change back. The cheap guy couldn't even donate an extra dollar toward the cause. And he was in the neighborhood that supported him. What a great guy and embarrassment. Thought you might love to hear this great story about the guy."
We're watching you Mr. Mayor.
"Not only were we able to get this economy going again ... but under Nancy’s leadership we were able to achieve historic health care legislation that over the last 15, 20 years will end up benefiting millions of families across the country, [and] we were able to get ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repealed,” Obama said, adding that Congress under Pelosi expanded investments in clean energy, infrastructure and education.
“We didn’t just rescue the economy, we put it on the strongest footing for the future."
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
In it, he notes:
"According to the Department of Labor, most union members today work for state, local and federal government. Close to 40 percent of public employees are unionized. As such, they represent a powerful political force in elections. If you're a candidate for governor, mayor or city councilman, you surely want the votes and campaign contributions from public employee unions. In my view, that's no problem. The problem arises after you win office and sit down to bargain over the pay and working conditions with unions who voted for you.
Given the relationship between politicians and public employee unions, we should not be surprised that public employee wages and benefits often average 45 percent higher than their counterparts in the private sector. Often they receive pension and health care benefits making little or no contribution......
Consider the cushy deal for many of California's unionized state and local police, fire and prison employees. They have what's called a "3 percent at 50" formula that determines their retirement check. It's based on 3 percent of the average of the three highest-paid years of the employee's career, multiplied by the number of years on the job. An employee with 20 years' service can retire at age 50 and receive 60 percent of his salary. Employees often boost their retirement income by putting in a lot of overtime hours during their last three years of service."
SOUND A LITTLE LIKE MAYOR SUTTLE AND FAHEY'S SWEETHEART DEALS WITH THEIR POLICE AND FIRE UNIONS?
"Temple University professor William Dunkelberg said in his recent CNBC article "Should Unions Have the Power to Tax?": "The 'employers' (taxpayers through their elected officials) have slowly lost their ability to determine the terms of employment offers. The unions now determine working hours, hiring criteria, the quantity of 'output' to be produced per day, the number of sick and vacation and holiday days, how their performance will be evaluated etc. No longer can the employer make an 'offer' for a job with requirements that fit the needs of the public institution."
The time has come for the City of Omaha and the State of Nebraska to address these issues before they thrust themselves and their citizens into public-union caused bankruptcy!
Monday, March 7, 2011
"It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."
- Samuel Adams
My opinion of the radical homosexual agenda in this country is well known. On every issue from same sex "marriage" to homosexual couples adopting children, there is no sane reason for the reordering of American society to accommodate a tiny, loud, deviant minority. That said, anyone who subscribes to the odious worldview of the members of the so-called Westboro Baptist Church is one sick puppy.
I have opined on these people before, most notably in a column titled "Idiots in the Hands of an Angry God." They have made a science out of creating attention for themselves through the manipulation of the law — in which they are well schooled. Their "church" is essentially Fred Phelps and his extended family of lowlife lawyers, living out their pathetic existence in a compound in Topeka, Kansas, and on picket lines around the country.
Though claiming to represent Jesus Christ, Phelps teaches instead a hodgepodge of Old Testament hellfire and brimstone aimed at one particular sin: homosexuality. So obsessed is he with this issue that he has come to the conclusion that American troops who die in battle defending this nation deserve to have their funerals picketed with signs reading "Thank God for IEDs" and "God hates fags."
Albert Snyder, the father of one fallen hero, 20-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, decided to sue Phelps and Westboro Church. Snyder won once and lost once before taking his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which last week ruled on the issue. In an 8-1 decision, the High Court said that Westboro's actions, disgusting though they may be, are protected political speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Only Associate Justice Samuel Alito dissented, writing, "Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case. To have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims."
However, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, proclaimed that the church group's signs represented protected speech on public issues, such as "the political and moral conduct of the United States and its citizens, the fate of our nation, homosexuality in the military, and scandals in the Catholic clergy. Distress occasioned by Westboro's picketing turned on the content and viewpoint of the message," Roberts concluded, "rather than any interference with the funeral itself."
As much as I respect Samuel Alito, I believe that John Roberts and the other seven members of the Court are correct on this issue. In fact, as reprehensible as Fred Phelps and his cult's message may be to us as Americans, and as distasteful as I find it to write these words, this decision by the United States Supreme Court may, in fact, turn out to be the salvation of free speech in our nation. If this group's disgusting message, aimed at those who should be our most revered citizens, is protected by the Bill of Rights, then it is hard to imagine a Christian pastor being sanctioned by government for preaching from the pulpit that homosexuality is a sin. And as our society hurls itself downhill toward Sodom and Gomorrah, that prospect becomes more real with each passing day.
This is the glorious and messy business of a free people. Popular speech is speech allowed by tyrants and the masses alike. It is the stuff put forth by those who would lull us to sleep for the purpose of stealing our liberties. Free speech is, necessarily, unpopular speech. As George Washington reminded us more than two centuries ago, "If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."
© 2011 by Doug Patton
Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself much more often than not. Now working as a freelance writer, his weekly columns of sage political analysis are published the world over by legions of discerning bloggers, courageous webmasters and open-minded newspaper editors. Astute supporters and inane detractors alike are encouraged to e-mail him with their pithy comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With that said, according to Stu Rothenberg, things look pretty safe for Republicans to keep the seat in Nevada:
"Sen. John Ensign’s (R) retirement announcement isn’t that surprising and doesn’t change our initial bottom line in Nevada since we didn’t expect him to make it out of a primary if he sought reelection.
With Cong. Dean Heller (R) as a likely candidate, Republicans are well-positioned to hold the open Senate seat. Of course it’s still very early in the race and it’s unclear who Democrats will nominate, but the race remains Lean Republican for now."
In an era of increased concern over public union contracts and given the recent attempted recall based very much on the the outrageous provisions of police and anticipated fire union contracts one might think that such a change would make sense, removing the stigma of conflict of interest from those council members who have received such contributions. But, of course, this is a change that will likely never even be discussed by this council given the self interests of Mayor Suttle, Garry Gernandt, Ben Gray, Chris Jerram and Pete Festersen. We can only presume RINO Republican Thomas Mulligan would vote with his adopted Democrat comrades since if anyone will ever need help to get elected in 2013 it will be him.
No, this is a proposal that will never see the light of discussion because it would simply show the hypocrisy of those who are owned by the police and fire unions. Once again, five of the unions' city council marionettes will act in their personal interests, not those of the citizens. Maybe they haven't seen what is going on in Wisconsin and across the nation. Hopefully, in 2013 they will.
Steve Oltmans, the mayors disgraced Chief-of-Staff, who was fired by the Papio-Missouri NRD for lying to its board about an affair he had with one of its board members, has already alerted his and the mayor's union buddies so they can begin their efforts to stop this in its tracks.
We hope somehow, Councilmembers Stothert and Thompson will find a way to at least get this on the agenda so the hypocrisy and ownership of the others can be prominently displayed.
Here are excerpts from the proposed changes:
Section 1: Legislative Findings. This City Council hereby finds and declares that the source of monetary and nonmonetary contributions to candidates for Mayor or City Council of the City of Omaha is a matter of concern to the City Council and the citizens of Omaha. Such contributions, if not addressed, can result in a perception of improper influence upon the actions of elected officials that threatens the integrity and credibility of the governmental process and crates a cynical view that jeopardizes the willingness of voters to participate in the democratic process of local government. This perception can be particularly harmful when the contributions are from labor organizations composed of City of Omaha employees for which collective bargaining agreements and other conditions of employment are presented to the Mayor and City Council for approval or rejections. The City Council further recognizes that monetary and nonmonetary contributions to political campaigns are a legitimate form of free speech and a legitimate form of participation in our political process. To address this concern while not unduly restricting the valuable freedoms and participation, this City Council hereby utilises the authority and direction given by Omaha Home Rule Charter sections 2.11 and 8.05 to prohibit conflicts of interest and provide for rules of procedure for the City Council.
Article XII Campaign Financing
2-322 Any City Councilmember who has received a contribution or in-kind contribution or expenditure from a labor organization or union shall be considered to hold:
(a) An indirect financial interest in a collective bargaining agreement of any nature or kinds between that labor organization or union and the city that is presented to the City Council for approval or rejections; and,
(b) An indirect financial interest in any amendment of the terms of Omaha Municipal Code Chapter 23, Article VI, that affects the contributing labor organization.
Section 2-323 Any Mayor who has received a contribution or in-kind contribution or expenditure from a labor organization or union shall be considered to hold:
(a) An indirect financial interest in a collective bargaining agreement of any nature or kind between that labor organization or union and the city presented to the City Council for approval or rejection; and,
(b) An indirect financial interest in any amendment of terms of Omaha Municipal Code Chapter 23, Article VI, that affects the contributing labor organization or union.
Sec. 2-324 Effect of Contributions
(a) Any City Councilmember who holds an indirect financial interest within the scope of section 2-322 shall abstain from voting on the collective bargaining agreement or amendment. Abstention shall be considered to remove the financial interest for purposes of applying Home Rule Charter section 8.05
(b) Any collective bargaining agreement or amendment in which a Mayor holds an indirect financial interest within the scope of section 2-323 shall require five affirmative votes for approval. Approval in accordance with this subsection shall be considered to remove the financial interests for purposes of applying Home Rule Charter section 8.05.
"Vulnerable Democrats beware: The bipartisan well is about dry.
Last cycle, Democrats saw their percentage of the Republican vote drop dramatically, and that could spell trouble for incumbents relying on that vote to survive in 2012. Sen. Ben Nelson is at the top of the list.
The Nebraska Democrat received a whopping 42 percent of the GOP vote in 2006 when he cruised to re-election, but with two GOP statewide officeholders already running against him, the Senator’s narrow victory in 2000 is a better road map for a third term. The former two-term governor was elected to the Senate by just a couple of points with the help of 21 percent of the Republican vote.
The trouble for Nelson is that no Democratic Senator or nominee in a competitive race even came close to that share of the GOP vote last cycle, according to an exit poll analysis. As the country becomes more polarized, partisan voters are going against politicians they may like or have supported in the past because they are upset with the candidate’s national party.
In Arkansas, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) saw her percentage of the Republican vote slip from 12 percent in 2004 to just 4 percent last cycle when she lost re-election.
In Wisconsin, Sen. Russ Feingold (D) dropped from 14 percent of the GOP vote in 2004 to 5 percent last fall when he lost re-election."
Friday, March 4, 2011
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Now we do believe that barring any major faux pas the G.O.P. will control the senate in 2013. One of the guys we like when it comes to intelligent prognostication/analysis is Larry Sabato (see link to his Crystal Ball on lower right column) who relates the success of senate candidates to the coattails of the president and his party. His thought process is worth looking at and you can read the balance of his analysis at his site if you wish, but here is the gist of what he has to say:
"Overall, a healthy 58% of the 66 truly competitive Senate battles have been won by the candidate of the presidential nominee that carried the state.
Every election is different, of course, and coattails appear longer in some years (1980-Reagan vs. Carter and 2004-Bush vs. Kerry) than others (1988-Bush vs. Dukakis and 1992-Clinton vs. Bush vs. Perot).
In 2004, Bush’s robust margins in Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Dakota may well have pushed, respectively, Republicans Mel Martinez, Jim Bunning, Richard Burr, and John Thune over the top. In 2008, Democrats Al Franken of Minnesota and Jeff Merkley of Oregon won wafer-thin victories while Barack Obama was sweeping their states. It is doubtful either Franken or Merkley would be in the Senate today had Obama not led their ticket so handsomely.
The 58% total actually understates the effect of presidential coattails. Look at 1980, for example. Surely, Sens. Gary Hart (D-CO) and Thomas Eagleton (D-MO) would not have had close scrapes in winning reelection had Ronald Reagan not been securing landslides in Colorado and Missouri. Even in his relatively coattail-less 1984 reelection triumph, Reagan surely made the difference for Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and Jesse Helms in North Carolina in their difficult campaigns.
There are remarkable exceptions along the way, too. Ben Nelson (D-NE) had a weak opponent in 2000, but it is still noteworthy that he won with 51% while George W. Bush captured a commanding 62% of the statewide vote in Nebraska. Will Nelson be able to repeat his feat in 2012, when any mainstream Republican nominee for the White House will probably trounce President Obama in the Cornhusker State?
Other than Nelson in Nebraska, there are quite a few 2012 contests almost certain to be substantially influenced by the downdraft from the presidential race, including but not restricted to Florida (Sen. Bill Nelson-D), Massachusetts (Sen. Scott Brown-R), Missouri (Sen. Claire McCaskill-D), Montana (Sen. Jon Tester-D), Nevada (Sen. John Ensign-R), North Dakota (open seat of Sen. Kent Conrad-D), Ohio (Sen. Sherrod Brown-D), and Virginia (open seat of Sen. Jim Webb-D).
When you watch these nine seats, seven of them currently held by Democrats, remember to include the presidential factor in your calculus. You can be certain that some lucky candidates in these states will be grabbing for their White House nominee’s coattails on Election Day."
P.S. We thing Ensign would be well to resign.