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More nasty Democratic mailings — who’s paying for them?

This is shaping up to be quite possibly the most negative campaign the Democrats have ever waged on Republicans in Lincoln. What do you think? I’m hearing about negative mailings going out left and right.

The Dems are now attacking incumbent Councilman Jon Camp, who is up for re-election on Tuesday. They sent out a ridiculous looking mailing (Camp mailing, address side) (Back side)Thursday with Camp apparently in some kind of Russian garb, dancing some kind of jig.

They nailed him for missing a budget meeting to take a Russian vacation and allegedly missing 16 City Council meetings (in what time frame? his entire 12-year tenure? One year? That would be good to know). I think it’s legitimate to talk about an incumbent’s attendance record, but the Russian jig thing is sophomoric. The mailer — once again, paid for by the Nebraska Democratic Party — claims Camp has the worst attendance record on the council and directs people to check out this website: here. It’s hard to know how much of this stuff is even accurate anymore, given the half-truths and exaggerations they put out in their mailing about Travis Nelson.

Camp expects more mailings targeting him in the next few days before the election on Tuesday. His opponent, Bobbi Kosmicki, had an unexpectedly strong showing in the primary election, trailing Camp by just 1,100 votes, or 15 percentage points — not bad for a virtual unknown in Lincoln politics — and the Democrats apparently smell blood. Although news of her bankruptcy last year might hurt.

An attack (img-428173755-0001) also went out hitting Republican Chad Wright, who’s running in District 4, northwest Lincoln. This mailing calls him “No Show Chad Wright” and claims he “just” moved to Lincoln four years ago, allowed radical, out-of-state special interests to bankroll his campaign to the tune of $50,000 and “didn’t have a business” in Lincoln until last year.

I can’t find any evidence of a $50,000 contribution to Wright’s campaign anywhere in state records, and a Republican official tells me Wright has had his business since 2007, although it wasn’t incorporated until last year.

Who’s paying for this smear campaign? Well, let’s see. The Lincoln firefighters’ union PAC gives the Democratic Party a whopping $30,000 in March. Another huge contributor has been Mayor Chris Beutler, who has donated at least $14,000 to the state party to make sure his fellow Democrats get elected — despite all his talk about reducing partisan rancor and his disdain for even mentioning which party council members belong to. I guess if you have nothing but Democrats on the council, that would reduce partisan bickering…

Kosmicki donated $1,500 to the Democratic party April 1, and then the Dems spent $1,500 to send out a mailing in support of her.

This all feels a little like money laundering, doesn’t it? Donate money to the party and then wash your hands of the dirty little mailings the party sends out. The mayor, Kosmicki and anyone else who donates to the state Democratic Party should own it: They’re paying for this dirty campaign, no matter how clean they think their hands are.


That Big Red House on O Street


You probably didn’t notice the big white house with a tree growing through the porch as you whizzed by on O Street. But you make take notice now.

The once-dilapidated house (apartments, actually) has been transformed into what my readers kept referring to as “that big red house” on O Street — just a few blocks east of 27th Street. They saw renovations going on, hoped the house wasn’t going to be demolished, and were relieved to see it preserved.

The home is now a two-level store called Good Things — with gifts, flowers, jewelry, food items, kitchen gadgets, and home decor — a little like Aunt Patty’s, but with more than decor. There is a full Stonewall kitchen, for example, with utensils, gadgets and upper-end food items.

The store is owned by Karolyn and Mike Howard, who also sell items wholesale and owned a similar store in Beatrice before expanding to Lincoln. The store opened on March 3 and its hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Anytime we can save an historic building from the chopping block, I call it a good thing, indeed.


Arena head says project is on budget; hundreds turn out looking for piece of arena work

The program manager for Lincoln’s West Haymarket arena project says the project is still on budget — disputing recent rumblings that the $340 million project is over budget.

During an open house for subcontractors Wednesday night, Mortenson Construction Vice President and General Manager of the Sports Group, Derek Cunz, said at this point it’s typical for a lot of “wish list things” to creep into a project, but he said the project is tracking on budget so far.

Jim Martin, program manager for the arena project, acknowledged that two street projects the city expected the state to do have been delayed. Those are improvements to the intersections of First Street and Cornhusker Highway and Sun Valley Boulevard and O Street. Improvements to those intersections are important to help traffic flow smoothly in and out of the newly developed area west of the Haymarket.

Martin said the city is looking at funding a “modest engineering study” to see if there are “interim solutions” to improve traffic flow at the intersections until the state can do the projects. His firm is reviewing the cost of the study, which he said would probably be less than $50,000. The Joint Public Agency which oversees arena financing and construction would have to approve the expenditure, too.

But he said the project is still on budget.

Mortenson Construction, the Minnesota-based general contractor who will be building the $168 million arena portion of the project, held an open house Wednesday night at the Cornhusker Marriott for subcontractors looking to get a piece of the arena action. Pickups with logos filled nearby streets and an adjacent parking garage, and probably 300 people filled an overheated ballroom to hear about the project. It was standing room only.

Some nuggets of news:

• Construction is scheduled to begin Sept. 16.

• Mortenson wants to begin accepting resumes (so to speak) next week for mechanical, plumbing, structural steel, structural precast, electrical and other work and award bids in June. That may be a bit too optimistic, however.

• Mortenson will open an office in the Haymarket next month. Anybody want to wager any bets on who they’ll rent from?

• Cunz said the company has never failed to finish a project on time and on budget.

• Cunz said sports projects are notorious for hitting time crunches and having long punch list items — but Mortenson’s goal is to have no punch list items by the first Husker basketball game.

• Senior Superintendent Dave Mansell said the city tried to wedge the arena between two rail lines — since they won’t be able to be moved until September 2012 — but there wasn’t enough room, so construction will go on between two active rail lines.

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