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.
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.