The Lancaster County Republican Party contends a campaign committee -- called Vote Local, Vote Lincoln -- is a Democratic shadow group.
It looks to me like they are correct. This group may not be an acknowledged child of the party, but it is more than a kissing cousin. It is supported by active Democrats, including Mayor Chris Beutler and his chief of staff Rick Hoppe, and it is promoting the election of some Democrats.
Because these committees, which support and oppose candidates, are not required to report anything more than their treasurer and donors, it takes a little detective work to make the connections.
Local Republicans first pointed out that Vote Local, Vote Lincoln was endorsing only Democrats for local races.
Later, the Republicans pointed out that one of the major donors to the group is a man who lives at the same address as Jane Raybould, an active Democrat and a City Council member.
A news release from the Republicans implied Raybould was trying to hide something, coupled with a bit of xenophobia -- descriptions of the man's employment by foreign universities.
Raybould says there was nothing to hide. The donor listed, Jose Herrero, is her husband of more than 30 years. The check was written on their joint account, and the report sent to the state by Vote Local, Vote Lincoln, had both names listed as donors. However, only one name -- Jose Herrero -- was entered into the state data system, said Frank Daley, executive director of the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission. That has been corrected, and both names are now recorded, he said.
Raybould says it is no secret that she is a fundraiser for the group, which supports candidates who believe in the same things as Beutler.
But there is no public record to indicate Raybould is a fundraiser. Nor is there any public record that Beutler and Hoppe are involved. That information came out as a result of all the controversy stirred by the Republicans.
The Vote Local, Vote Lincoln spokesperson says the group supports candidates who agree with “Mayor Chris Beutler’s positive agenda of promoting high quality of life, continued economic growth and increased recycling.”
It appears they have targeted progressive voters, including independents and Republicans as well as Democrats, encouraging them to vote for a slate of local candidates who are Democrats.
Vote Local, Vote Lincoln focused its support on three of the Democrats running for City Council.
The group did not include Maggie Mae Squires in its endorsements, excluding her from fundraising opportunities and depriving her of name recognition.
Squires, one of eight City Council candidates on Tuesday's primary election ballot, said she was excluded because she supports legalization of cannabis as part of her campaign.
Squires said Rick Hoppe, chief of staff to Mayor Chris Beutler, told her she would not be endorsed, but not until three weeks after Vote Local, Vote Lincoln began its work. That delay robbed her of time to change her campaign strategy, she said.
Squires said she had been told that Vote Local, Vote Lincoln would help all Democrats get elected. So she assumed the group would be helping get her name and literature out to progressive Lincoln voters.
“This was a huge learning experience for me,” said Squires.
Hoppe said the mayor and other organizers of the group decided not to include Squires on their endorsement list because the cannabis stand would have detracted from local issues, like recycling.
Legalizing marijuana is a state issue, not controlled at the local level, Hoppe pointed out.
“Rather than have a never-ending discussion about marijuana, we thought it might make more sense to focus on local issues,” he said.
That's how long it has been since we've seen anything more than a temporary glimpse of the sun in Lincoln, according to the National Weather Service.
From the afternoon of May 22 through Wednesday, Lincoln has had cloudy or mostly cloudy weather.
"There have been some peeks at the sun, specifically the 23rd and the 27th of March, and area residents will likely see at least some patches of sunlight today, but overall it has been partly to mostly cloudy -- or just cloudy -- since the afternoon on the 22nd of March," said meteorologist Josh Boustead on Tuesday.
Verizon wants a better deal
Cellphone companies are putting new street lights in downtown Lincoln so they can hang their equipment on those poles and connect to the city’s conduit system. This equipment makes it easier for their customers to quickly get data on their ubiquitous smartphones.
As part of the deal, the city is getting new street lights and $1,995 a pole a year from the cellphone companies. So far, Verizon and Mobilitie have signed contracts, and the city is expecting the number of contracts and number of new street lights to grow.
But this sweet deal is in jeopardy. In fact, Lincoln's control over the public right-of-way is in jeopardy.
Verizon, in a bill before the Legislature, wants to eliminate the $1,995 annual lease payment for future equipment and limit the city's ability to make rules covering equipment in the public right-of-way.
The city is looking for a company to run its recycling education program. The goal is to encourage more people to recycle and to explain the new ordinance that will ban corrugated cardboard from the landfill beginning next year.
Hopefully, the campaign will be more exciting than the name attached to the bid document: “Comprehensive residential and commercial recycling communication, education, engagement and behavior change initiative.”