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Incumbent upon you

If you’re ever thinking about running for public office, run as an incumbent. That seems like the best way to run.
My husband was reading the paper today and saw all these (I)s next to names, and thought America had gone Independent. Then he realized the I stood for Incumbent. I used his exasperation to get him to take out that extra wall in the basement storage room I’ve been meaning to tear out with a sledgehammer.
So it all worked out well.
But not for Ray Stevens: Looks as though he’s the one county commissioner who paid yesterday for the County Board’s controversial decision to sell the county retirement home, Lancaster Manor. Three County Board seats were up for election, but (I)ncumbent Bob Workman didn’t run and (I)ncumbent Deb Schorr didn’t have an opponent.
So there was Stevens, vulnerable. Which is too bad, because in my time following the County Board, Stevens really took his job seriously. He was always around city hall, asked a lot of questions and was skeptical about things that everybody else just goes along with, like overdoing tax increment financing.
I’ve seen city commissioners and state lawmakers fall asleep during public meetings, but Ray Stevens was fully engaged.
But once in awhile, even (I)ncumbents have to pay for their decisions. That’s playing out nationally.
And what’s with all those Nebraska races with no opponent? It’s pretty sad when you have no choice for so many statewide offices, much less county offices or NRD boards.
I know it’s tough to take on the (I)ncumbents, but more people need to step into the arena.


Low turnout? No kidding.

I was lamenting the fact that I’d stupidly waited until 5 p.m. to go vote today, and figured I’d pay for that.
But when I arrived at my polling place, I thought they moved it. The church seemed to be empty. I nearly left. There was literally no line. At 5 o’clock. Whoa.
I knew the races were pretty boring locally, but I didn’t think it’d be this bad. Election Commissioner Dave Shively was predicting a “dismal” turnout, and he was right. However, I should have placed some wagers that the Raybould-Stevens County Board race would be close. So far, it’s a nail-biter. We’ll see as the night goes on…


City gives Perot Systems $3.5 million to stay; Perot ships 250 jobs to India?

I thought the most interesting story in Sunday’s Journal Star was the one about how according to a state report, Perot Systems has shipped a whopping 250 jobs off to India.
Interestingly, Dick Piersol got the information from a state Labor Department petition seeking federal training for people who lost jobs to foreign outsourcing. Perot Systems would not confirm the accuracy of the report.
This was shocking news that belonged on the front page of the paper, to me, because two years ago, the city of Lincoln bestowed $3.5 million in tax increment financing on Perot to help it build a new office, which it moved into last year. The public was told that Perot had been considering consolidating its Lincoln operations in another city, but Lincoln enticed them to stay here with a $3.5 million TIF carrot that helped them build a new 150,000-square-foot building in the University of Nebraska Technology Park, up by Verizon. The TIF — which is like a convoluted property tax break, to me, because Perot gets to have the money that normally they would have had to pay in new property taxes — was to be used to pay for a 60-year ground lease and street, utilities and streetscape improvements.
But the kicker is that the public was told the new Perot building would enable the company to create about 150 software engineering jobs that pay an average of $50,000. Makes you wonder how that’s coming along? If they’ve shipped 250 jobs off to India, did they create any new jobs? And if they didn’t, what are the ramifications? Does the city have any way of getting its money back if a company doesn’t hold up its end of a TIF bargain?
In addition, the state petition also states that the Perot office is closing in “early 2011.” However, a Dell spokesman said that’s not true. (Computer giant Dell bought Perot Systems last year.)
Before the TIF deal, the information technology company had 750 employees scattered in seven sites across Lincoln. At that time, Lincoln was Perot’s second largest site in the country, and third largest in the world. And Piersol reported that in February the company said it had 900 Lincoln employees and would be hiring 150 more.
The company has acknowledged it has laid people off last year and this year, Piersol reports, but won’t say how many.
Does the city know how many people are really working there? Does it make an effort to find out?
These are the questions I expect our council members to be asking the Beutler administration.


Spatz is the winner (so far)!

So far in our very unscientific poll, Councilman John Spatz is your favorite to run against Beutler next year.
(And yes, the poll does guard against repeat voters, just in case you were wondering!) I’m surprised he got more votes than veteran Councilman Jon Camp, but I’m even more surprised at the number of write-in votes former Councilwoman Patte Newman is getting! I’m just curious what would possess Newman to a) get back into politics and b) run against a fellow Democrat, Beutler. But Patte is obviously popular with my readers, so she might want to think about coming back to city hall some day!
Coby Mach is in second place — which doesn’t really surprise me but he left no doors open to running when I asked him about it months ago. Usually if they want to leave open the possibility, they say something like, “I have no plans to run.” But he flat-out said, “I am not running.”
I will leave the poll open for a week. In the meantime, I’d like to hear thoughts on whether anyone thinks Beutler is beatable…