Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

Mayor Chris Beutler and Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel decided to provide details a little earlier than scheduled on their plan to fund school safety programs in order to be first in the public eye. 

City administration and school leaders planned to make an announcement Thursday about their plan to fund some public safety programs through a new joint public agency.

Then, late Monday afternoon, Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm sent out an email announcing she would hold a news conference on her school resource officer plan Tuesday morning.

Rather than let Lamm get her plan out to the public first, the Beutler administration and the public school leaders provided the Journal Star with details of their plan Monday evening.

Lamm said she wanted to get her ideas out before a Thursday evening town hall meeting on school violence. Lamm said she was not invited to the event. Republicans have pointed out that many won’t be able to go because it's the same night as the Lancaster County Republican Convention. 

Lamm said her Tuesday announcement was related to that town hall meeting, not the mayor’s plan, which she knew little about until she read the Journal Star story online Monday night.

She said she and other Republican council members were left out of the planning for the new school safety JPA, while their Democratic counterparts were kept informed.

Staff did provide information to council members who were interested in the after-school Community Learning Centers, said Rick Hoppe, chief of staff to Beutler.

And the administration is more likely to share information early with “people who do support what we want to accomplish.”

Hoppe said there's the fear that some Republican council members will use information they get early to obstruct and defeat a proposal, rather than work with the administration to try to improve the situation.

The distrust and refusal to share information early goes both ways. Republicans also don’t always share their plans with the administration in an effort to build consensus, Hoppe said. 

The administration did not know what Lamm’s school resource officer plan was until she announced it at the Tuesday news conference.

"Cyndi didn’t talk to us at all about anything she was planning," Hoppe said.

Several years ago, both Lamm and Republican Councilman Roy Christensen brought proposed charter amendments to the public without providing any information to the administration.

More recently, Christensen's plan to delay the city's sale of 17th Street to the University of Nebraska was given to the administration minutes before a City Council meeting.

When Republicans were in the majority, they had clearly worked on budget amendments as a team and those amendments were not shared with the administration before being presented at council meetings, Hoppe noted.

But Christensen said Republicans and the Democratic administration have worked more cooperatively since the council members and the administration sat down after a lawsuit over the budget and levy and cleared the air. 

"Since then I thought we were doing pretty well, until this moment," he said.  

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks


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