Mayoral candidate Cyndi Lamm put on a chartreuse safety vest, grabbed a shovel and began filling potholes at Eighth and H streets Friday.
“It’s pretty simple. Just spread and tamp,” said Lamm, who said she wanted to know how to fix potholes and how difficult it is.
“We should have a pothole party,” she said while video was being shot.
Lamm later said she didn’t know if her pothole repair work would become a commercial for her campaign.
Lamm, a City Council member, did not get permission from the city to do the work. And that is an issue with the city, as Mayor Chris Beutler explained in an email.
It is unsafe, not acceptable and not allowed.
I’m for getting it done, Lamm said, when asked about working on the street without city permission.
Doesn’t that create liability issues, Lamm was asked.
It could be a liability if the city doesn’t fill the potholes, she replied.
Lamm said she was working with people who knew what they were doing "to make sure it was done right and we would be safe."
There were cones blocking off part of the street, and Lamm was wearing the safety vest. “It’s not my best color,” she joked.
The street looked like the surface of the moon, she pointed out.
The city did repair other potholes along Eighth Street over the weekend.
Vigilante pothole patching
Mayor Chris Beutler offered his concerns about Lamm’s private pothole patching in an email to the newspaper. The mayor said he hoped Lamm wasn’t seriously encouraging residents to fill potholes without the proper safety equipment or training.
"Pothole filling in traffic is a dangerous business and only appropriately trained city staff or city contractors should be doing it. Had a permit to work in the street been requested, as city ordinance requires, the city would have said this is not an acceptable practice.
"The fact that Ms. Lamm and her team left unused pothole materials sitting unsecured by the side of the road is another reason why the city discourages the practice.
"City staff had to be dispatched to clean up after them, taking them away from pothole-filling duties.
“If the council member’s intent is to disparage our street maintenance personnel or management staff, shame on her.
"Snowstorm after snowstorm, ice storm followed by the worst flooding event in Nebraska history, the department’s leadership and staff worked their tails off to protect the people of this city during a brutal winter. They deserve our thanks, not political theater.”
Beutler also provided information about the permit process and what is required for working on a city street.
Along with a permit, any work being conducted on public streets requires an approved temporary traffic control plan and workers are required to have work zone safety training.
"Finally, anyone conducting work in the right of way would need to have the city’s minimum insurance requirements prescribed by the city as in any of our standard contracts."
In the past two weeks, Beutler said the Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Department filled 26,535 potholes with 1,246,240 pounds of asphalt material.
Candidate Gabel and her tax burden
Krystal Gabel, who is running for mayor as an independent, pays very little taxes to the city she wants to lead, several readers have pointed out.
Gabel said she lives in her van, so she pays no property tax for a house or apartment. And her van is registered in Douglas County, which means she does not pay Lincoln’s despised wheel tax.
Gabel said, in an email response, that when her plates expire in April she plans to get Lancaster County plates.
Until then the only city taxes she pays is the sales tax on items she purchases in the city.
Lamm's snow removal task force
Lamm's proposal to create a task force to explore snow and ice removal issues, after a long winter, received unanimous City Council approval Monday.
The mayoral candidate has used the city's snow removal efforts this winter and the proposed citizens study group as part of her campaign.
Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird, who is also running for mayor, joined in Monday, offering a few changes to the resolution. Gaylor Baird broadened the language from mere snow removal to examining the city’s "winter operations policy," which also includes dealing with ice.
It will also look at snow-related problems for bus riders. This winter, riders often had to climb over piles of snow between the sidewalk and a bus, said Richard Schmeling with Citizens for Improved Transit. A lot of sidewalks, the responsibility of property owners, are often not cleared, he pointed out.
The task force will include eight private citizens, two each from the four quadrants of the city. It will also include a representative from the union that does the city's snow removal work, as well as people representing the council, the mayor, the finance department and the Transportation and Utilities Department.
The task force is expected to submit its findings and recommendations by Oct. 1, just in time for the beginning of another winter.
Property tax deadline nears
The deadline for paying your property taxes is March 31. The taxes become delinquent April 1.
However, this year you have an extra day. Since March 31 is a Sunday, the county treasurer’s office will not charge interest to anyone who pays in person Monday. However a mailed check must be postmarked by March 31.
Anti-LIBA group is anonymous
There is a website criticizing the Lincoln Independent Business Association, a group that tries to influence city policy and budget decisions and whose PAC weighs in on elections.
I would like to write more about the anti-LIBA group, however there is apparently no way to determine who is involved in the website. It’s hard to put any faith in a group that won’t divulge its membership.
(Editor's note: A group that says it is connected to the site provided a link on the website earlier this week.)
LIBA has offered a defense to the specific allegations on its Facebook page, with this broader statement:
"We reject anonymous falsehoods, misstatements and outright lies about LIBA’s positions on issues, about our leadership, and our membership, and we hope you will do the same."