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Archive for May 2nd, 2011

2
May

Sam’s Club coming to south Lincoln

So sayeth our friends on the airwaves: Land is under contract west of the Walmart at 84th and Highway 2. Hasn’t closed yet.

2
May

What will Lee decision mean for the Journal Star?

That’s what I’m wondering, after reading this story.
If Lee Enterprises was on the brink of bankruptcy before proceeding with this debt refinancing plan, what does its decision NOT to proceed mean for the company’s future? Financial types, tell me what you think.
Here’s an interesting take on the situation.

On a lighter note, County Commissioner Jane Raybould and Lee CEO Mary Junck… separated at birth?

2
May
Conceptual view of the arena from Seventh Street, near Lazlo's in the Haymarket.

Some GOP arena supporters irked by Beutler email appeal

Last week, a Republican arena supporter (there were many of them) forwarded me an email he received from a supporter of Mayor Chris Beutler’s urging him to donate to Beutler’s campaign and vote for Beutler tomorrow.

What was curious to him was that the author apparently tapped the old pro-arena database to send out this mass e-mail, which said, in part:

Mayor Beutler’s leadership and determination were critical in getting the Arena passed. Now, he is less than a week away from his own re-election campaign and he is being attacked for his support of the Haymarket Arena by the same nay-sayers who’ve always opposed the Arena.

Although Arena construction has begun, there is still a tremendous amount of work left to be done. Lincoln needs Mayor Beutler’s steady hand and leadership to ensure that the project is completed on time, on budget, and to ensure it’s full potential is realized.

The email was sent by Phil Montag, who was part of the “Citizens for Jobs and the Lincoln Haymarket Arena” or YES group (who’s against jobs? I always wondered). The recipient of the email was bothered by it, because he said during the arena campaign, many Republicans signed on to the YES campaign even though it was being run by the usual band of Democratic PR pros. They were assured the database wouldn’t be used for political purposes down the road, he said.

Of course, it was. In that case, an in-kind contribution should be recorded somewhere in campaign finance reports. We’ll see if it shows up.

2
May

Buffington YouTube campaign video overblows budget gap — big time

A Democratic Facebook friend of mine was arguing with me the other day that local Republicans have a history of being just as brutal as Dems when it comes to dirty campaigns.

Tammy Buffington

As proof, he mentioned Americans for Prosperity pouring thousands into Lincoln to personally attack and try to unseat Sen. Danielle Conrad, former Republican Councilman Glenn Friendt attempting to covertly finance a smear campaign against former Democratic Councilman Terry Werner years ago, and some current YouTube videos of Republican mayoral candidate Tammy Buffington’s.

YouTube videos? I’d never seen them, so I checked them out. I found several. In one, she points out that while Mayor Chris Beutler often brags about cutting 120 city jobs, in reality only five were pure layoffs. The rest were basically vacancies left unfilled. She also has a video talking about how Beutler thinks it’s big stuff to rehab eight miles of roads in Lincoln when the city has more than 2,000 miles of roadways — but still wants to spend a whopping $14 million to rebuild about two miles of roadway and build a roundabout at 14th and Superior.

I didn’t think any of the videos were nasty: They focused on actual issues — as opposed to the character assassinations the state Democratic Party is financing.

However, I was intrigued by two of the videos about the city’s budget deficit. In both of them, Buffington says the city has a $720 million budget deficit. Holy hell that’s a big number! Just one problem: it’s not accurate. The city’s entire tax-funded budget is about $130 million. The actual projected deficit is about $6.3 million (although several expenses aren’t included in that estimate, so it’s probably larger).

Buffington and her campaign manager disagree with me: They say she’s referring to $600 million in street debt, the $60 million unfunded liability for police and fire pensions and the city’s $60 million backlog of sidewalk work. I agree with their numbers for the pension fund and sidewalk backlog, but I have no idea where they get a $600 million “unfunded liability” for streets.

They said it’s semantics: I say a “shortfall” is a lot different than adding up all the infrastructure work we wish the city could do, all the work we NEED to do and calling it a shortfall. You can decide for yourself.

See it here:

Now I know from experience it’s easy to trip over your tongue and make a mistake during a debate or a press interview (I myself accidentally said the city had a $200 billion — rather than million — infrastructure shortfall during a TV interview). However, this was a campaign video, not a live interview. Apparently, nobody in her campaign noticed the error before the video went up.

So while I don’t see the carpet bombing campaign that my Facebook friend sees in the videos, I do think Buffington shot herself in the foot.

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