The Nebraska public employees union director is asking Gov. Pete Ricketts to fire his communications director over a tweet.
Mike Marvin sent a letter Monday to the governor saying Taylor Gage made light Sunday on Twitter of the recent disturbance at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.
Gage posted a story Sunday about kid vandals, ages 7 to 11, who raided a day care in southern California, causing $25,000 worth of damage. With it he tweeted the comment: "In other news: Preschool riot."
There's been much discussion between Ricketts' administration, the media and others since Thursday's disturbance at Tecumseh as to whether it was a "riot" or an "incident." The Corrections Department has been loathe to call these disturbances at Tecumseh riots, and has written and talked about why it was not a riot.
In a Twitter exchange after the post with Brian Mikkelsen, Nebraska State Education Association political field operations director, Gage said he was not comparing the preschool raid with the Tecumseh riot, or making light of the Tecumseh incident.
@btmikk Nope. Both are very serious incidents - Tecumseh certainly more so. Sad to see kids in CA did this.— Taylor Gage (@gagetaylor) March 6, 2017
Marvin charged that Gage's tweet made light of the recent riot, in which two inmates, Damon Fitzgerald and Michael Galindo, were killed.
"Yes, I called it a riot," Marvin said. "I understand the Department of Correctional Services and the industry have their own definition of riot, but the normal definition of a riot fits what occurred," he said in his letter to Ricketts.
He defined riot as "a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd."
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Marvin said Gage's post disrespected the jobs Corrections officers perform and showed little concern for the families of those whose lives were lost.
"It was a deplorable post, not fitting for the person serving as your spokesperson," Marvin said in the letter to the governor.
If Ricketts doesn't fire or demand Gage's resignation, it would show the governor's support for those type of tweets, he said.
"Please show your concern for the dangers faced by our employees every day and take action on this insult to them," Marvin said in the letter.
The governor did not respond publicly to Marvin's letter.
Gage's exchange with Mikkelsen went like this:
Mikkelsen: @gagetaylor Are you really making light of the Tecumseh prison riot?
Gage: @btmikk Nope. Both are very serious incidents - Tecumseh certainly more so. Sad to see kids in CA did this.
Mikkelsen: @gagetaylor Vandalism in CA ... versus a prison riot in Nebraska where 2 people died ...
Gage: @btmikk I think we're in agreement here.
Mikkelsen: @gagetaylor Then why post the comparison?
Gage: @btmikk I did not post a comparison. That's why I said we're in agreement ...