Category Archives: Local government

Hopefully Nebraska Primary Is Not Indicative

Am I surprised? No. Disappointed? Of course.

Despite national polling numbers that indicate an anti-incumbent sentiment, history tells us that sentiment doesn’t often extend to one’s own incumbents. And that appears true this round in Nebraska.

An examination of the election results from the Nebraska Secretary of State’s website shows that almost without fail, incumbents won in the May 11 primary by a wide margin.

Also, I knew before primary election night that a disgust with uncontrollable spending professed on Tea Party signs and again, via polling, tends not to affect voters’ thinking on local issues. In viewing the configuration of yard signs around Lincoln, NE, in the few weeks prior to the election around I was shaking my head as I drove by yards that featured a whole slate of Republican candidates but also included a “Yes to Arena” sign.

The arena issue is mentioned here not because people from outside Nebraska have any interest in it, of course, it’s included to illustrate a disconnect in thinking about everything from unsustainable overspending to the proper role of government. By voting “Yes” to the arena bond issue, Lincolnites signal they are content with overspending by their city government while city streets fall apart.

And this dovetails with the majority opinion of Nebraskans who apparently believe the incumbents in their Congressional delegation have had no hand in the explosion of government and dangerous debt.

The message is: the problem is in D.C., our elected officials are doing a good job. This is not a surprise – Nebraska has not had huge turnouts at Tea Parties as seen in some places in the country – the largest number of which I’m aware, either in Omaha (total metro population of about one million) or Lincoln is 1500 – 1800. Lansing, Michigan, with a comparable population to that of Lincoln’s, had an April 15, 2009, turnout of 5,000+.

Michiganders, of course, have been hurting for a long time. They are feeling the pinch. Nebraskans, apparently are not.  They are unable to see the pincers coming their way or who has been wielding them.

It’s an unfortunate thing, the phenomenon that is part human nature, part result of our welfare-state culture, and part of the ignorance bred by our education system. People don’t care much about much until they are personally and directly hurt. Although we all are, in so many ways, already being directly detrimentally affected, we don’t see it because it’s embedded in the system. It is the now often heard analogy of being boiled like frogs.

Phew…I know I’m gettin’ real hot over here…how ’bout you?

Apparently you have to be NOT from Nebraska to realize that this state has the highest overall taxation rates within a nine state area. Also, apparently, you have to have lived recently somewhere besides Lincoln to realize that the city has a higher cost of living than it’s next door neighbor, Omaha, which has a much larger population.

A fellow former South Dakotan recently noted that a particular type of  building permit in Lincoln that costs $2200 costs just $45 in Omaha. To that example, I added my own. South Dakota has no income tax, so most of its revenues comes from sales tax and it is even collected on grocery items.  But I could shop much less expensively for a cart full of food in my small town (population 1700) grocery store WITH sales tax than I can in Lincoln without it. That small town store had no competitors and higher pricing compared to the stores in the nearest metro area.

The reason for higher cost of living is simple – there’s simply more government in Nebraska than those other eight states, and much more government in Lincoln than in Omaha, so there are higher taxes.

Based on the primary election results, a majority of registered Nebraska voters like a lot of government and a lot of taxes. Lincolnites in particular must just LOVE them…cause they’d better buckle up after passing that bond issue for the new arena.  Our city streets are in such disrepair, you feel in some places like you’re driving on an unmaintained gravel road after spring rains. But 56% of voters think we can afford a new arena. Using the search term “city budget” on the Lincoln Journal Star website yields stories year in and year out about city budget shortfalls. The majority of Lincolnites, like the majority of Americans in 2008, apparently believe we can spend our way out of this.

Yeah, that’ll work.

But, as I said, I’m not surprised. Not even at the supposedly conflicting yard signs. They aren’t actually conflicting. A former Nebraska Republican Congressman appeared what seemed like every ten minutes on local Lincoln TV advocating for the arena bond issue. He also just happens to be the Athletic Director of the University of Nebraska and the one man in the state that has the highest likelihood of being canonized the moment he passes on because he was the long-time coach of the Nebraska Cornhusker football team. (Did I mention that the University wants a new arena for basketball? And they’ll get to use it virtually for free?)

The State Attorney General was a featured speaker at a pro-Arena event. He is a Republican.

I’m just scratching the surface here – there are plenty more examples of Nebraska Republicans that don’t seem very limited government to me…and I’m not even going to get into the things that have gone on in the state legislature of which I’m aware.

Where the support of incumbents in Nebraska makes the least sense is in the cases of two out of three Congressmen. Both Jeff Fortenberry and Lee Terry voted to spend like drunken sailors along with their fellow Republicans while their Party’s guy was in power, and while they were the majority party.  Sure, they’re saying “no, no, no” now – but – they said “yes, yes, yes” consistently for years before.

I’ve heard a lot of people complain about the Republican party not abiding by its platform. Apparently, if their own Congressman abides by the platform in the last year or so, or appears to adhere to Constitutional principles for the past five minutes, that’s all it takes.

Nebraska Republicans seem to have gotten back together with the incumbents and the party establishment.

Ah, well. At least there’s a really nice song to commemorate the occasion that comes to mind…

I recognize I’m clearly in a minority on this…but I think



But I am beginning to think  those of us who are in that minority may find the following is all we have left…

And perhaps…that’s the message being given to us from a source far more important than polls.


Laura and I Talking Constitution on Lincoln GML-TV

Give Me Liberty TV Opening

A few months ago, I was invited to a taping of a grassroots tv show by Lincoln, Nebraska’s very own Give Me Liberty TV.

I say GML-TV is grassroots because it is a group of local folks who wanted to have an impact on people in some way that was being tried. They opted to put together a TV show on the local cable access channel. Since they started their efforts late last summer, they’ve gathered footage of many rallies, events, and landed a number of interviews, a couple of them real boons. In January, they managed to wrangle an interview with Judge Andrew Napalitano while he was in the state for the Sovereignty Symposium. In February, they sat down with Oklahoma State Representative Charles Key while he was in Lincoln to testify at the Nebraska Unicameral.

Follow up has included panels of local activists and the interview you see below. State Director of the Nebraska Campaign for Liberty Laura Ebke and I were invited on together because we’ve been working on a number of projects together over the past few months.

Likely, the reason why is evident from the interview – Laura and I enjoy discussing the philosophy regarding the Founding and searching for solutions we can put into action to move back towards that Constitutional, limited government. We particularly focused on State Sovereignty and how States have lost their role in the separation of powers and checks and balances intended for our system to work.

Our interview was split into two shows. This is the first of the two, which first aired last week.

Thanks to Patrick and the rest of the GML-TV crew for hosting the interview and for their efforts overall.