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The most important story in the paper today

… is on page B3, in my opinion.

Gov. Dave Heineman

Talk about burying the lede: The story about Gov. Dave Heineman’s thoughts on the Wisconsin situation vs. the Nebraska CIR situation says in paragraph 10 that if the Legislature doesn’t pass “meaningful reform” of Nebraska’s system for setting public pay this session (which there won’t be), there will be an effort to repeal it (not sure what “it” is) and “it” (not sure what, again) will be put on a statewide ballot for Nebraskans to decide.

I just wish I knew exactly what “it” is that he’s talking about. Abolishing collective bargaining? Kind of an important detail.

I’d just heard this same thing on Tuesday — that nobody expects anything substantive to come out of Sen. Steve Lathrop’s committee, and so there is a movement afoot to put the CIR issue on the ballot. I hadn’t even gotten around to checking out the rumor and now Heineman is confirming it.

I would have put the story on the front page (bump the Miss Nebraska story) and put that news in the lede. There are many unanswered questions though: Who’s involved in this movement? What do they intend to accomplish? Will there be protests here next? (I’m already hearing talk of a rally this weekend.) How far is Heineman planning to go?

This is big news people: Even if it is on page B3.


Beutler says “eventually” he and his cabinet will cut their own retirement benefit

During a radio show this morning, Mayor Chris Beutler acknowledged that he and his cabinet and aides still get a very generous retirement benefit but said “eventually” those will be adjusted.

Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler

Eventually? Beutler first went public with his plan to reduce city employees’ retirement benefits in July 2009. Last year he got all but one city union to agree to reduce the match for new hires (from a 2-to-1 match to a 1.3-to-1 match). All the while, he and his cabinet have continued to take an even more generous deal.

According to data from the city, Beutler and his aides and department heads get about 12 percent of their salary in retirement compensation annually. And I’ve recently learned they get the city contribution whether they contribute a match or not. So that’s a better deal than any city employee gets. They get about 12 percent of their salary (most of the directors’ have six-figure salaries) and don’t have to match it to get it.

But now that Winterized has publicized the fact that Beutler never reduced his own retirement match, even while lobbying city employees to do so, he’s acting as though he’d always intended to change it.

“We need to follow through and adjust all of the pension ratios eventually,” he said on Jack & John today. “We haven’t gotten to some narrow categories but that process will come down to everybody in the end. We’ve been working with the broad categories, the big things… .”

So we are to believe that even though he has had since July 2009 to adjust the benefit for himself and his cabinet and aides, he just hasn’t gotten around to it? Wouldn’t a better approach have been to announce that he wanted to reduce retirement matches for city employees, and he would be the one to go first?

The radio host asked Beutler whether he couldn’t have just unilaterally made that change, and Beutler said he didn’t know.

“But we will get there,” he said. “It’s coming.”

Don’t believe me? Hear it here.


Bruning’s first video salvo

Compliments of Street Sweeper over at Leavenworth Street, comes news of Attorney General Jon Bruning’s first web video taking a shot at Ben Nelson and the Cornhusker Kickback (of course). What do you think?


Politico says Stenberg to enter Senate race

Politico is reporting that State Treasurer Don Stenberg plans to enter the U.S. Senate race next month. He would be joining Attorney General Jon Bruning in trying to win the seat now held by Ben Nelson.

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