Showing posts with label tax. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tax. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

We're off on the Road to Caracas

This is frickin' Haiti. If only someone had thrown a chair -- maybe shot a hole in the ceiling -- for the full effect.

Where this all is heading is frickin' Venezuela, which as I type is completely emptying out because it, like Louisiana, is completely incapable of self-governance. It's amazing all the existential, quite-fatal flaws $100-a-barrel oil can cover up.

Until it's $50-a-barrel oil.

IF I WERE Gov. John Bel Edwards, I'd make sure Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) discovered -- by Wednesday morning, at the latest -- that state health inspectors had documented severe rat-and-cockroach infestations at every single one of his convenience stores up there in Bumf*ckistan. Out of an abundance of caution, Harris' nasty, filthy stores then would have to be shut down.

In the name of public safety. And good government.

Especially good government.

When you're gub'na of a banana republic, you damn well better act like you're the top banana.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Boing! Boing!

I could post depressing stuff, like how Nebraska's own Pillsbury Doughmagogue, Gov. Dave Heineman, has caught a bad case of Bobby Jindalitis and is proposing doing away with the state individual and corporate income taxes in favor of the solid-rock stability and progressiveness of sales-tax revenues.

I could, but that would depress you as much as it does me.

So, I don't know about you, but I'm up for some Gerald McBoing-Boing tonight. Pass the popcorn, willya?

Monday, February 06, 2012

Twinkle, twinkle little bat-s***. . . .

This is how you run a state today. Please take notes.

First, you buy a copy of Through the Looking Glass. Pay for it with a check from a bank you just made up in your head last week. Sign the check "Alice."

Then commit yourself to believing "six impossible things before breakfast" every day, nine days a week, and twice on Gloopday.

Third, vow never to make sense again. Coherence, consistency and commonweal are the three K's to avoid at all costs -- they will just mess you up when, as The Man, you're trying to gin up popular outrage against The Man as a means of sucking up to the booboisie.

Fourth, if the public pays for it, the public owns it and the public benefits from it, convince the public that's just "socialism," a nefarious plot conjured up by pointy-headed geeks to steal taxpayers' money.

And finally, tell people there is such a thing as a free lunch, that they can get something for nothing . . . and that nothing is really Something, because when you're paying for something, that's not as good as getting nothing, which is Something, for nothing. Make this point to voters twice every Gloopday.

NOW THAT we've completed our overview of Political Science 1001, I think we're ready for a look at the latest public-policy pronouncements by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, the Pillsbury Doughmagogue. (Envision the Mad Hatter, only closer in appearance to Poppin' Fresh and prone to go "Hoo hooooooooo!" every time a state employee gets his pink slip.)

In today's edition of the
Omaha World-Herald we observe Flippin' Nuts (which I think is the governor's Twitter handle, but I could be wrong) compare the state university to "a wealthy 'special interest group' with its hand out for taxpayer dollars while the state's citizens want tax relief."
Heineman, in an interview Friday, said that his top priority remains passage of his proposed tax-cut package and that the university needs to reprioritize its spending or use private dollars from its foundation to finance the $91 million in new construction spending it is requesting from the state.

The university is seeking funds to expand nursing classroom space in Lincoln and Kearney, do design work on a new veterinary laboratory in Lincoln, and build a $370 million cancer research tower at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

"Here's what the average Nebraskan tells me: 'The university has over a billion dollars in their foundation, and they can't afford $400 million to $500 million to afford that (cancer tower) project?' " Heineman said. "They're offended, and they have a right to be offended," he told The World-Herald.
THAT'S BECAUSE there's nothing more offensive than cancer research. Unless, of course, it's the resulting economic development that would plague Omaha as a result of any major enhancement of the med center.

Everybody making money long-term -- or lives saved through cancer research -- doesn't change the fact that nothing says "socialized medicine" like a state med school and a state hospital run by a state university.
Go Big Red, indeed!

MEANTIME, to borrow a quote from next semester's POLI 1002 required text, "Pay no attention to that comsymp behind the curtain!"
Ron Withem, an NU spokesman, said the university has worked well with the governor in the past and hopes to do so again this year. Withem said, however, that 30 "average Nebraskans" were among those testifying Thursday in support of NU's spending priorities before the budget-writing Appropriations Committee.

"There were nurses, students, medical professionals and cattle producers telling legislators that they should invest in economic development and health initiatives at the university," he said. "We think the average Nebraskans did speak yesterday."

Withem added that the state's largest business groups, including the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, also support the NU requests.

Several members of the Appropriations Committee have voiced support for the university project, although they doubted NU would get the entire $91 million. Much, they said, would depend on the health of the state economy and competing demands for state dollars, including the governor's tax-cut proposal.
IT'S A TERRIBLE thing when the chamber of commerce has been infiltrated, I'll tell you what.

Some people just don't get --
to put it mildly -- that today's best practices for state governance do not include investing taxpayer money in public institutions. Especially education.

The most recent literature in political science clearly indicates that the only message Nebraskans need to hear is "Lie back, have another cigarette, and think of Reagan."

Of course, it's an entirely different thing if we're merely
not putting money into state coffers in the name of non-socialistic private economic development. I mean, that money wasn't there in the first place, right?

Not putting money in isn't the same as spending taxpayers' money,
right? It's just giving a tax cut to future corporate citizens. Tax cuts are good. And if we have enough tax cuts, maybe more state employees will get pink slips.

"Hoo hooooooooo!"

STILL, one has to have standards and procedures -- even when it involves not making future corporate citizens pay taxes . . . so that Nebraska is the state to which they won't be paying taxes.

For one thing, you have to recognize the devil you know
(like the University of Nebraska), you know damned well is a devil. The devil you don't know -- like a secretive bunch of investor types who may or may not be from the West Coast -- you don't know is the devil at all. Really, they're probably great guys.

But we can't talk about it. Hell, we can't even know it. "N" stands for Nebraska, but it also stands for "no nowlege," which is always the best policy because "noing nothing" means there's one less thing you have to lie about.

In running a state's affairs, honesty, remember, is always the best policy. Unless, of course, it isn't.

And before we can move heaven and earth in the Legislature to give secretive investors massive tax breaks so that it's here they come to not pay taxes and build this really cool thing that might or might not be something that's really big and really high-tech, we have to know a few things. Like, we need to know that we only know their first names.

This, again, is consistent with best practices in the state-government racket. (See "no nowlege" above.)

We also need to make sure that the 30-something executives who want to not pay taxes here don't leave any business cards with anybody. And, like I said, we need to know that we don't know where they're from -- that's important.

Then, we need a fancy code name for whatever it is they won't be paying taxes on. The
World-Herald said something about "Project Edge." Ooh! That's got kind of a certain je ne sais quoi to it!

Again, it's pretty important that
je ne sais squat about quoi. Except that We Don't Know Who from We Don't Know Where are promising us a lot of Mystery Quoi.
But the potential economic impact of their project is no secret among state leaders: a projected $1.2 billion data center that could grow even larger.

It could bring a major high-tech business, one that would become the single-largest consumer of electricity in Nebraska.

The state is in hot pursuit of Project Edge, which is looking at breaking ground in May with an initial investment of $500 million.

State lawmakers are acting quickly to land the economic big fish, swiftly advancing two bills from committees last week in hopes of sweetening Nebraska's tax and electric-rate incentives to better compete with the reported main competitor for the project, neighboring Iowa.

"It's quite an extraordinary investment," said Gov. Dave Heineman, who has been involved in the recruitment effort. "We're one of the finalists, and I think we have an outstanding opportunity to have this occur."
[Emphasis mine.]

State Sen. Abbie Cornett of Bellevue, who is championing one of the data center bills, used the words "huge" and "unprecedented" to describe the business opportunity.

The first phase of the proposed Project Edge data center would be nearly three times larger than the $140 million, 175-job Yahoo data center lured to La Vista in 2009.

Project Edge is projected to become twice as large as the $600 million center that Google located in Council Bluffs in 2007. Nebraska officials say the proposed new center comes with the potential to expand even more than the $1.2 billion projection used by state officials.

can take away from this is the absolute importance of distinguishing between a wealthy special-interest group with its hand out for taxpayer dollars and a wealthy special-interest group with its hand out for taxpayer dollars.

Providing state funds for a wealthy special-interest group affiliated with the people of Nebraska is bad --
offensively bad -- when it would further medical education, target a deadly disease that kills millions, enhance the prestige of the state university, eventually add to the state's tax revenues and be an economic windfall for the state's largest city.

Indirectly providing state funds for a wealthy special-interest group affiliated with men who
(as far as we know) have no last names and (as far as we know) have no permanent address is good -- the best thing ever!!! -- when whatever the hell it is they're promising just might be big. Really big. Bigger than that Google thing those damned Iowans have.

We think.

At least that's what they're saying. You know . . .

But at least these Them aren't greedy public-university thems.
And that's good.

Because the guy who runs the state -- the guy in charge of the government -- says government is bad. And we believe him because he's a good guy.

Go ask Alice. I think she'll know.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cut them taxes! Fill that cash reserve!

The Pillsbury Doughmagogue is at it yet again.

The man who proposes to cut Nebraska inheritance and income taxes some $130.8 million a year is peeing all over a $91 million construction proposal from the University of Nebraska because the state's highest priority in the whole wide universe is . . . that $130.8 million tax cut. That and
rebuilding the state's cash reserves.

Being a Republican governor who's obviously running for something else means never having to admit you make no sense. Or that you're contradicting yourself.

Or that your thinking might be a little . . . magical?

I DON'T KNOW whether the Omaha World Herald's political writers ought to be getting hazard pay or have to pay the city's entertainment tax. (And would the Omaha entertainment tax even be an issue for Lincoln-bureau peeps, anyway?)
The University of Nebraska will have to overcome opposition from Gov. Dave Heineman to win approval for its four-part construction initiative.

The governor said Thursday the state's highest priority should be passing tax cuts, followed by rebuilding the cash reserve fund.

"The university may have some good ideas about some future projects, but their request is very bad timing," Heineman said. "It would be fiscally imprudent to steal money out of the cash reserve."

University officials have said they plan to seek $91 million from the cash reserve for the projects. A University of Nebraska Medical Center initiative to build a cancer center is the main component of the NU legislative proposal, which also includes a $17 million nursing facility in Lincoln, a $19 million health care training facility based at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and $5 million to plan a veterinary diagnostic center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The governor's position adds to the difficulties that the university plan faces in winning approval from the Nebraska Legislature, where it will have to battle myriad other ideas for state spending or tax reduction.
THIS IS the point in the blog post where I usually ask "How stupid does he think we are?" But that seems pretty unnecessary whenever the political subject is Gov. Dave.

I fear I know
exactly how stupid the Pillsbury Doughmagogue thinks we are.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Hooterville to Omaha: Drop dead

The Pillsbury Doughmagogue must have made it his life mission to wage war on Nebraska's largest city.

It's something of a primal compulsion for Gov. Dave Ziffel Heineman -- kind of like a rural-state governor's version of pon farr. I suppose the Doughmagogue theoretically has, under extraordinary circumstances, the option to forgo screwing over Omaha -- the Cornhusker State's big, bad Sin City, home of hipsters, Democrats and the chaotic Inner City -- but first he would have to fight Attorney General Jon Bruning to the death.

Anyway, if you read today's story in the
Omaha World-Herald, you'd never guess that this holy apostle of fiscal discipline is the north-central Plains' hypocrite king . . . the pontificating poobah of Do as I Say, Not as I Do. In fact, Ziffel Heineman achieved such efficiency by privatizing Nebraska's child-welfare services that it's costing state taxpayers a mere 27 percent more to accomplish a whole lot less.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman said Tuesday that Omaha needs to cut spending because he won't support legislation to raise sales tax as a way to solve the city's budgetary problems.

During a press conference Tuesday, the day before the 2012 Nebraska Legislature convenes, the governor was asked about a bill carried over from last session that would allow cities to increase sales taxes by a half-cent with voter approval. Legislative Bill 357 represented a top priority for the City of Omaha.

“Omaha needs to do what state government has done: Tighten your belts,” the governor said. “That's what Nebraska families and businesses have done.”

The governor said he “strongly and adamantly” opposes the bill because it represents a tax increase that could lead to more local government spending in Omaha and other communities.

“If it gets to my desk, I will veto it,” he said.
OF COURSE he will. One thing is clear, though.

Either Ziffel Heineman doesn't know or really doesn't care that without Omaha, Nebraska is just North Dakota without the oil reserves. Personally, I'm betting on the latter.

I'm also betting that this means the term-limited governor is about to run for U.S. Senate. Oh, joy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Miami Vice 77, America's Future 0

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The good news is the United States has all the money it needs to slash the national debt.

It has all the money it needs to maintain critical social services, too.

And to stimulate a sick economy.

It has all the cash necessary for rebuilding our crumbling national infrastructure.

We also have all the money we need to help poor children and their families.

The bad news is that we'd rather spend it all on s*** like this instead of stuff like that:

A University of Miami booster, incarcerated for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme, has told Yahoo! Sports he provided thousands of impermissible benefits to at least 72 athletes from 2002 through 2010.

In 100 hours of jailhouse interviews during Yahoo! Sports’ 11-month investigation, Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro described a sustained, eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking, some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs. At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and, on one occasion, an abortion.

Also among the revelations were damning details of Shapiro’s co-ownership of a sports agency – Axcess Sports & Entertainment – for nearly his entire tenure as a Hurricanes booster. The same agency that signed two first-round picks from Miami, Vince Wilfork and Jon Beason, and recruited dozens of others while Shapiro was allegedly providing cash and benefits to players. In interviews with federal prosecutors, Shapiro said many of those same players were also being funneled cash and benefits by his partner at Axcess, then-NFL agent and current UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue. Shapiro said he also made payments on behalf of Axcess, including a $50,000 lump sum to Wilfork, as a recruiting tool for the agency.
ALSO, there's this to consider:
While there may not be many boosters with such an over-the-top story, Shapiro knows he wasn’t the only fan doling out the under-the-table money. Maybe most damning for the sport is the fact that while he took care of current players, he says Miami coaches never asked him to buy a football recruit. Mainly because they felt it was fruitless.

“Miami is not the school where payouts are made to prospective student athletes,” Shapiro said. “Miami is a private institution, it’s in a transient city. We didn’t have the money to pay recruits. There is so much more money in big public universities. In the SEC, the money is an endless river.

“If Miami relied on cash payoffs for players to come to Miami, they’d be out of business. They’d lose every bidding war.

SO, YOU SEE the problem isn't, per the Republican Party, that poor little rich people couldn't possibly afford to be "job creators" any longer if they had to pay a tax rate commensurate with Joe Six-Pack's.

No, the problem is that the priorities of well-to-do Americans are, too often, completely f***ed up. Come to think of it, so are ours.

We get the leadership we deserve, and we get the society we tolerate. Boosters, hookers, football gods, rogue "collegiate" athletic programs and all the rest.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

No. He won't. Hewon'thewon'thewon'thewon't!

You have this little creature that only knows one word -- "No!"

Anything you say, anything you propose to the urchin is met with the reflexive, instantaneous rebuke. "No!"

Do you want to go out and play?


Eat your peas.


Pick up your toys.


Play nice with your friends.


Don't call Juan names.


Cut off Glenn Beck. He's rotting your brain.


Ditto for Rush Limbaugh.


Leave Jim Suttle alone. He's got his hands full.


Clean up your child-welfare system. It's a damned mess.


Your cities are broke. Let them raise sales taxes if they have to.


WHAT WE'RE dealing with here is not your average 2-year-old. Unfortunately, Nebraska, what we're dealing with here is your governor.

And little Davey Heineman only has one answer for anything anymore -- "No!"

It's right here in black and white in the Omaha World-Herald:
Gov. Dave Heineman left little doubt Wednesday morning about his distaste for a bill that would allow Omaha and other Nebraska cities to hike local sales tax rates by a half-cent if approved by voters.It's a tax increase measure, Heineman said during a call with reporters, and the 27 state senators who now favor the idea are enabling higher taxes.

“Cities ought to be cutting spending rather than raising taxes,” the governor said.

When asked if city voters shouldn't be allowed to choose whether to raise their own taxes, Heineman countered that voters should be allowed to decide something else — whether to lower their property taxes.

“Put that on the ballot and let's see what happens,” he said.
I SWEAR TO GOD, that's the only thing the man-child knows how to say -- “Cities ought to be cutting spending rather than raising taxes.” And when cities like Omaha cut the last dollar -- when all the social services are gone, the streets turned to mud and rubble, the last cop and firefighter fired, all the businesses long gone, public schools defeated, the state's tax base decimated and the 'hood descended into real chaos and not average, everyday chaos . . . when Nebraska's economy has been destroyed -- "Baby Dave" Heineman will be reduced to rocking back and forth in a corner of the state capitol, babbling incoherently to his doting press secretary.

"No! Cut spending, don't raise taxes! Cut spending, don't raise taxes! Wubbie! Wubbie! No! NoNoNoNoNoNoNo! Cut spending! Want Wubbie!"

Damn fine governor you got there, Red.

Naw, I think I'll stick with the 2-year-olds. At least 2-year-olds don't run the joint, and you can give them a time out.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Public school buses for Jesus

Back in my Louisiana hometown, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board is considering a list of $37.4 million in budget cuts as a start on tackling what officials think will end up being a $39 million budget deficit.

Class sizes will increase. Three schools will close. Staffers will face furloughs. Direct bus routes -- 62 of them -- for gifted and magnet-school students will be eliminated.

One thing that won't be cut, however, is bus service for parochial schools.

Non-Louisianians might react to this with a great big "WTF???" They might wonder what the name of "separation of church and state" are taxpayers doing funding bus service for Catholic schools.

LOUISIANIANS, however, probably would wonder why taxpayers wouldn't provide school buses for parochial-school students. They'd argue that white kids ought to have just as much access to school buses as black ones.

Absurdity, after all, is so prevalent in the Gret Stet as to not even be noticed.

In today's newspaper,
The Advocate reports on the abjectly insane machinations of what passes for self-governance in Louisiana with nary an eye roll:
Carnell Washington, president of the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers, said parochial school children should also lose direct bus routes if magnet and gifted children lose there’s.

“If we have to give up something, they should give up something,” Washington said.

Dilworth said he struggles with some suggested cuts, including ending after just one year an experiment in year-round schooling at Claiborne and Park elementary schools, saving $4 million in the process.

“So I spend $4 million at those schools and then look at the cuts I’m going to have to make across the district … can I justify that? No,” Dilworth said.

Washington placed the blame for the cuts on Gov. Bobby Jindal whom he described as “selfish.”

“We are here because the state of Louisiana has refused to fund public schools,” Washington said.
GOD, I HOPE someone makes a federal case of this.

It probably won't be the commenters at the bottom of the article -- the one yearning for a return to "neighborhood schools" and another who wants the school system to be rid of all its "magnate" programs.

Gee, if I were in charge, I'd make every school a "magnate" school. Them magnates would have enough money to pay for their own damned school buses.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

'Cornhusker Kickback,' my ass

Greetings from Nebraska, one of the states that pays other states' bills at considerable expense to itself.

Research by The Daily Beast this week ranked the Cornhusker State 45th on its list of "states that sponge tax dollars," with it receiving a paltry 82 cents back from the federal government for every dollar Nebraskans send to Washington.

And right-wingers enjoying disproportionate suckage at the federal teat in places like Mississippi (No. 1, $2.83 for every dollar paid) and Sarah Palin's Alaska (No. 6, $2.24) had the nerve to get all indignant and pissy about Sen. Ben Nelson's ultimately deleted "Cornhusker Kickback" in the struggle to pass health-care reform. Hell, that probably wouldn't even have gotten us back what we pay in.

AS THE unicameral frets and fights over how to close a big hole in Nebraska's biennial budget, I think we may have stumbled upon a solution here. Everything will be all right, with nary a budget cut on the horizon . . . if we just secede from the union and levy taxes at the combined state and federal rates.

We even
could be generous toward the Americans and allow them to keep Offutt Air Force Base, headquarters of the Strategic Command. We know how one can get attached to one's nuclear deterrent.

But it would cost them some serious rent.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Last (re)call for alcohol!

You want to know why reporters drink?

It's because the jackasses they often have to cover make their brains hurt, and alcohol helps to deaden the pain. A little.

Take the
Omaha World-Herald's Maggie O'Brien, for instance. She covers city government . . . and the people who try to blow up city government whenever they get in a toot about something. Usually, it's taxes.

LOOK AT what the poor girl has to deal with daily. If she's not at The Dubliner swilling black-and-tans right now, she's a totally amazing woman:
A group exploring the possibility of recalling Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle has launched a website that will take donations.

The site,, was launched Tuesday. Organizers said donations will be accepted online by Tuesday afternoon.

Last month, the Mayor Suttle Recall Committee announced it had raised $5,000 by Aug. 17, triggering the group to file with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission. The group plans to take out recall affidavits later this month.
IN CASE you've not apprehended the irony here, let me help.

The Mayor Suttle Recall Committee wants people who allegedly are so strapped that they can't pay another farthing in any kind of a tax -- no matter how dire the city's financial situation -- to donate money to them to recall the mayor. For raising taxes.

Because we're all broke.

But not too broke to give what you'd likely spend in higher taxes to a bunch of well-off cranks and cynics to blow up city government because you don't want to pay higher taxes.

Because you're broke.

Destitute. A $15 wheel-tax hike from losing your car to the repo guy, losing your house to the bank and being reduced to wandering the streets of River City filling a hijacked grocery cart with castoff aluminum cans -- which you desperately hope you can turn into enough cash to buy a Big Mac and a Budweiser tall boy.

JUST REMEMBER this one important thing, all ye poor, desperate, taxed-into-nothingness wretches of Omaha:
If you are concerned about having your name attached to the recall, donations of $249.00 or less do NOT have to be reported to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Let's have a psychotic reaction!

Since we're hell-bent on dragging Omaha back two decades into the bad ol' days of civic strife, dysfunction and stagnation, why doesn't the Recall Army just drop the Big One now and put us all out of the taxophobes' misery.

That's right, none of that Rodney King
". . . can we all get along? Can we get along?" crap from back in the day. No, what Omaha needs now is some Lawrence King teenage mutant ninja buggery crap from back in the day.

I'm talking Franklin Credit Union II, baby!

Bring out Alisha Owen. Sell John DeCamp's book and put the profits toward suing anybody who ever had anything to do with raising a tax.

Cut the police department's budget to zero, because you
know what police chiefs do with their paycheck in this Great Plains Gomorrah.

And who's Jim Suttle been sleeping with, anyway?

DAMMIT TO HELL, I'm too damned taxed out to go to the movies, and I want some entertainment value out of my municipal government -- just so long as it doesn't cost me anything. We need us some chaos right about now. Chaos -- now that's some cheap entertainment!

And all we need to do to get the ol' mayhem rolling is to start recalling everybody in sight. Hey, Alisha! Wasn't Suttle at some of those kinky hoop-de-doos? Think hard.

Ask Paul Bonacci. Maybe he can come up with something.

I mean, you got to give us something to work with here if we're gonna have us some chaotic kicks and giggles.

After all, you just don't recall a mayor over the budget and raising some taxes to balance the budget, do you?

Do you?
A grass-roots group announced plans Thursday to explore a recall campaign against Mayor Jim Suttle.

A separate group took out recall affidavits Thursday against Suttle, as well as City Council members Jean Stothert and Pete Festersen.
I DUNNO, maybe you do. That's what the World-Herald is reporting. Then again, we know how the local rag likes to cover up the real reasons for stuff that goes on in this town.

Maybe Suttle has gotten to the "journalists" there. Maybe they only
want us to think the recall efforts are actually over the budget.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Let's see what else the cover-uppers want the people to swallow whole. (Just like at those kinky parties, no doubt.)
The grass-roots group, the Mayor Suttle Exploratory Recall Committee, held a press conference at Anthony's Steakhouse. The event was planned quickly after the group raised $5,000 as of Aug. 17, which required it to file with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission.

“The city could use new leadership,” said spokesman Jeremy Aspen, an Omaha real estate agent, who said the group is a grass-roots effort.

It includes some familiar faces: Pat McPherson, a longtime supporter of former Mayor Hal Daub, is a consultant. Also involved is Jim Cleary, a former Daub aide who spearheaded a successful recall against former Mayor Mike Boyle.

Aspen said Daub was not involved in the effort.

Aspen said the group organized out of concern about Suttle's financial decisions. The committee says Suttle didn't look hard enough at cutting costs before raising taxes. The committee also disagrees with the recently signed police union contract.
C'MON, PEOPLE! We need the truth. And some real live-and-local Jerry Springer-meets-Bob Woodward action to get us through these challenging times.

All together, now!
Where have you gone, Miss Alisha O?
A city turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo woo woo).
What's that you say, Mr. John DeCamp?
"Alisha O has left and gone away" (Hey hey hey, hey hey hey).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

There's no 'I' in 'team.' There are some in 'idiots.'

I was all ready to start out this appeal for civic common sense with a high-falutin' reference to John Donne and "never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee," yadda yadda yadda.

Then it occurred to me,
"This is Nebraska, stupid. John Donne? Really?" I mean, John Deere, maybe. But John Donne. . . ?

But I get ahead of myself.

The deal here is that Omahans' taxes are going up. Why? The city, like most cities these days, is tapped out.
Broke. In the red. It's called a budget deficit.

To balance the books, being that the city already has cut the budget to the bone the past two fiscal years, Mayor Jim Suttle proposed tax increases -- a property tax hike . . . a dining tax . . . a higher wheel tax, including one on those who work in Omaha but don't live here.

The city council made some additional budget cuts but passed the tax increases Suttle asked for, more or less.

And in this age of the tea party, it goes without saying people are furious.

The council should have cut the budget more! Government is too big! Balance the budget!

How? Who the hell knows, just do it. Cut off the freeloaders! Just not me and mine.

PEOPLE ARE so mad, there's lots of talk now about recalling Jim Suttle, as reported by KETV, Channel 7:
A group said Wednesday it will hold a news conference to announce the formation of a committee to explore the possibility of recalling Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle.

Under the title Recall Mayor Suttle, the group will announce its intentions Thursday morning at Anthony's Restaurant in Omaha.

The announcement comes one day after the Omaha City Council approved a budget plan that includes a new, 2.5 percent restaurant tax, a property tax increase of at least 2.3 cents, a wheel tax increase, and a wheel tax expansion, requiring those who live outside the city, but who work in Omaha to pay.

The Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association will attend the meeting. MOPOA said a poll it commissioned weeks ago showed dissatisfaction with the mayor's handling of the budget.

But political experts said such an effort likely wouldn't be driven by the masses.

"My sense is that it's more that maybe Suttle hasn't been responsive enough to some of the local business interests, and they want to make it clear that they really are calling the shots," said University of Nebraska-Omaha political science professor Dr. Loree Bykerk.
IT GETS BETTER. Says Joe Jordan over at Nebraska Watchdog, one of the people behind the latest recall effort aimed at Suttle is Jim Cleary -- the guy who spearheaded the last successful recall of an Omaha mayor, back in 1987:
Nebraska Watchdog has learned that at least part of Jim Cleary’s decision to work for the recall of Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle was made by the numbers, polling numbers.

On Monday Nebraska Watchdog reported exclusively that Cleary, who was one of the key players in the successful 1987 recall of former Omaha Mayor Mike Boyle, is now working behind the scenes with a group of Omahans who are in the early stages of formulating a strategy to recall Suttle.

Nebraska Watchdog is told that an early August poll was a key factor in persuading Cleary to get involved. According to the poll of 400 likely Omaha voters, 70% said the city was on the wrong track and 67% disapproved of the way Suttle, who was elected in May of 2009, is handling his job.

Those polled also strongly disagreed with Suttle’s 2011 budget plan which initially included a 9 percent property tax increase and a 4 percent restaurant tax. On Tuesday the City Council lowered the property tax increase to about 5 percent, trimmed the restaurant tax to 2.5 percent, and found an additional $13.5 million in budget cuts. In a statement issued following the Council’s decision the Mayor would not say if he intends to pull out his veto pen. ”I will review (the Council’s) changes to the recommended budget and will respond within an appropriate timeframe, “said Suttle.

According to several sources the recall group is expected to announce Thursday that it is forming an exploratory committee which will begin laying the groundwork for its anti-Suttle campaign.

That committee will examine the pros and cons of a recall effort, prior to launching an official petition drive. In order to recall Suttle, the Mayor’s opponents would first have to acquire the signatures of 26,642 registered voters in the City of Omaha. Those signatures must be gathered within 30 days. Sources close to the recall tell Nebraska Watchdog that a petition drive might be timed to coincide with Election Day November 2nd. That would allow those gathering the signatures to set up operations near polling places in Omaha where registered voters are casting their ballots.

Nebraska Watchdog contacted Cleary to ask him about several of these items but Cleary refused to comment.
WELL, I GUESS it was too much to ask that the national snit fit and every-man-is-an-island nervous breakdown (see, I worked in the Donne thing after all) would somehow bypass the place where I live. Insanity is afoot, and it's catching.

Nevertheless, the moment "calls for a stupid and futile gesture on somebody's part," and I guess I'm just the guy to do it.
Here goes.

There is a fine line between a progressive, livable city and a dungheap that proves itself totally resistant to economic growth and successful self-governance. Indeed, civilization itself is a thin veneer over the barbarian rabble we once were . . . and could be again.

Over a couple of centuries, Americans have developed municipal services like police, fire departments, parks, libraries and social-welfare programs because we figured we needed them. Because we thought they made the places where we lived more orderly, more livable.

These things evolved all across America because we decided, for the overall good, that everyone should have a right to certain services, certain "safety nets" -- that by investing in our communities, we were investing in our, and our children's, future.

This is not the case everywhere in the world.

In some locales, those who have, keep it. All of it. And those who have not . . . have nothing. They're just flat out of luck.

Some such places we call the Third World. Other such places we call "banana republics."

They all got there when enough people -- at least enough people with means -- decided that "me" was a lot more important than "we." That is the thin line between "the American way of life" and the abyss.

I'M NOT getting through to you at all, am I? I completely lost you at John Donne, didn't I?

Well, this is Nebraska, so let me put it to you this way:

What do you think would happen if there was an "I" in "team"? Yes, I'm talking football.

What do you think would happen if Zac Lee and Niles Paul decided that giving Bo Pelini 100-percent effort was just excessive, and that instead, they'd give just 73 percent, but only when it would directly benefit their individual stats?

How do you think that would reflect on the Huskers' win-loss record?

Do you think Nebraska would be fielding a product worth the price of admission? You think anyone would care to take up residence, so to speak, at Memorial Stadium if the whole program went to hell in an every-man-for-himself hand basket?

What if bunches of first- and second-team players adopted the same attitude? Decided they were in football just for themselves? Rejected Pelini's expectations that they'd all do their bit in the name of the common good?

And what if Pelini came under suspicion for demanding players all do their part for the team?

WHAT IF Jim Cleary were Nebraska's athletic director and decided that Pelini was just a "tax-and-spend" football coach and recalled him? Well, you'd probably end up with a replay of the Bill Callahan era, that's what.

Which, of course, would be a lot like what happened to Omaha after Cleary engineered the recall of Mike Boyle -- several years of civic stagnation, instability and a revolving-door cast of mayors.
And there's more!

With your electoral snit-fit, we'll include years of political mayhem and strife for free . . .
all because we know you wouldn't pay for it anyway!

So, go ahead. Take care of No. 1. Recall that big-tax mayor who's so incompetent he can't do the fiscally impossible, and so arrogant he opted for the socially responsible instead.

Go ahead. Pitch a fit; sign a petition. I can't think of a better prescription for what ails us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Every idiot for himself!

It would appear that a lot of Omahans think there really is such a thing as a free lunch in life.

It also would appear that a lot of Omahans think that you can cut whole big chunks out of city government -- which is the alternative to taxpayers manning up and, like,
paying the cost of running a city -- and that the Good Life fairies will magically stop that city from becoming a dilapidated s***hole, and that they won't find themselves on the very short end of Every Man for Himself.

KETV, Channel 7, as a public service, today offers this excerpt from a very long book --
People Are Too Stupid for Direct Democracy:
A group of concerned Omaha property owners said it has polling data that show local taxpayers are fed up with Mayor Jim Suttle's proposed tax increases.

The Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association said it commissioned a polling firm to survey hundreds of Omaha residents in all parts of town, asking hot-topic questions about the city's budget crunch and taxes.

The group said that its results show that most Omahans disapprove with the direction that City Hall is currently taking.

Rental property owner John Chatelain said he's worried that he'll have to sell the west Omaha house he rents if property taxes rise again.

"That would mean that the profit flow will be even less, which means that people will be able to pay even less for homes, which means property values will go down," he said.

Tom Jizba of the Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association said Chatelain is not alone.

"We have been increasingly concerned about the growing intrusiveness of the government," Jizba said.

He said that the poll found that 70 percent of the respondents felt Omaha is on the wrong track and that 67 percent said they disapproved of the way Jim Suttle is handling his job as mayor.
THAT'S DEMOCRACY for you -- whiny babies demanding all the benefits and services government offers, but completely unwilling to shoulder any of the responsibilities of self-government.

I grew up in a place where that ethos had an iron grip. It ain't pretty, and Omaha doesn't want to go there.

Trust me on that one.

Monday, December 14, 2009

America's next great West Virginia

Courtesy of WAFB television, here's another dispatch from my hometown, delusionally referred to by its mayor as "America's next great city."

There's an old "Boudreaux" joke about how Boudreaux goes to the Westerns with his podnas and bets them John Wayne won't get his horse shot out from under him. About two hours later, as Boudreaux is paying off them ol' boys, he laments that he'd seen the movie twice before.

"Dey ain't no way I thought John Wayne would fall off dat damn horse three straight times," he says ruefully.

DEY A LOT of Boudreauxs in Baton Rouge.

here's what happens when you think the city will quit looking a little more Third World every year -- and that people with brains will one day quit leaving Louisiana and start flocking to the Gret Stet -- if only they vote down yet another bond issue. If only they keep looking at the public school system as OK for black folks but nothing they'd want little Johnny anywhere near . . . or is even worth caring about.
After starting up in Baton Rouge 25 years ago, Innovative Emergency Management is leaving the capitol city. They're moving their headquarters 900-miles east to Durham, North Carolina, saying Louisiana can't lure the kind of workers they need.

IEM officials say for the past several years it's been hard to get educated technology professionals to move to Louisiana. One of the biggest issues their potential employees have with the state - education.

"Telling them they have to put their kid in private schools, this is an additional cost and these are just practical considerations," said IEM technology vice president Ted Lemcke.

Lemcke says struggling public schools are just one concern his company's potential workforce has with Louisiana. IEM workers advise federal agencies on how to manage threats to public safety and property.

"Young technology professionals are attracted to centers like Raleigh-Durham or Austin or other places, and they don't see Baton Rouge as one of those technology clusters," said Lemcke.

Lemcke says it's the main reason IEM is moving it's headquarters and about half of their 200 employees from Baton Rouge to North Carolina.

"These are perceptions these candidates have, and these perceptions have caused us some challenges with getting candidates to accept positions here," said Lemcke.

LONG GONE are the days when you could have a sixth-grade education, hire on at Standard Oil and make enough money to buy a bass boat, with enough left over to move far away from the "colored" folks. In fact, the very dream of a middle-class life with three cars and an oversized house in suburbia is all but gone -- even if Boudreaux happens to have a degree from LSU.

And Boudreaux has seen this movie over and over again the past three decades or so.

Big John Wayne keeps getting his horse shot out from under him, yet no one ever thinks that a different movie -- with a different screenplay -- might be in order.

Such is life in America's next great West Virginia.