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July 21, 2011


Mayor urges supporters to write letters supporting his budget

by Deena Winter

I Tweeted a question earlier this week: “Does anybody else smell a letter-writing campaign?”

Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler

And one of my readers responded: Yes, indeed, he’d received an e-mail on July 11 from Lancaster County Democrats and the mayor himself, asking him to support Mayor Chris Beutler’s budget by writing a letter to the editor of the paper, or the mayor (waa?) and the City Council.

I figured a little campaign was underway when I saw a letter to the editor from the mayor’s own chief of staff (Rick Hoppe), and the Democratic Party’s No. 1 fan, Phil Montag (who did campaign work for the Dems and Beutler during the last campaign) and still other letters from people practically begging Beutler to raise their taxes.

One woman even brought a petition to the City Council from people saying, “Raise my taxes!”

Now there’s nothing like a good ol’ grassroots effort to sway city hall — but these organized letter-writing campaigns are a sham, and it’s too bad the Journal Star doesn’t always recognize when it’s being played.

Here’s what Beutler’s letter to his fellow Dems said, in part:

Show your support for a budget that reduces the size of City Hall while keeping our families safe and preserving libraries, parks, pools, and senior citizen services. Write a letter to the editor by clicking HERE, email my office at and the City Council at Make your voice heard at the upcoming public hearing on the budget August 8th.

So the mayor basically asked people to swamp the newspaper and city hall with letters and people on public hearing day. That’s old-fashioned politicking and maybe shouldn’t surprise anyone. I just thought you should know that when you see letters to the editor, they’re not always random people who suddenly were inspired to write a letter in support of the mayor and his tax increases. Sometimes, it’s just politics.

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. E
    Jul 21 2011

    Again, the people of Lincoln are clueless to what is happening right in front of their eyes. Just as economics 101 should be a requirement for citizenship, so should political literacy basics: how the politicians scam the citizenry.

  2. Mr. Wilson
    Jul 21 2011

    @Deena: Surely the LJS “recognize(s) when it’s being played” in a situation like this … doesn’t it? I view it more as a matter of them not minding being used than being oblivious to it. After all, it’s in their interest to stir up comments and controversy.

    @E: This is among the mildest sort of “scam” you’ll ever find. Asking constituents to write letters is far from unkosher. Arguably it can even be healthy. Now if Mayor Beutler uses the number of letters he receives (which he requested) as “proof” that he has the support of “regular Lincolnites” … well, that’s getting into skeevy territory. But the simple act of asking people who support you to let others know about that support? Psh. Get over it.

  3. Outraged
    Jul 21 2011

    How DARE Mayor Beutler encourage civic participation in government! What an outrage. Deena I think you’ve stumbled upon the next Watergate scandal.

  4. Jane H Kinsey
    Jul 21 2011

    Citizens should have list of how politicians in Lincoln have presented only their side of the story. It is too bad that we have no debate here currently. It would be interesting to know why
    Beutler is able to bamboozle Lincolnites. It may be that we have no leadership in the Republican Party. Why we don’t appears to be an untold story. Even if one is an Independent having several sides in a debate or on an issue is helpful to the citizenry for making a choice.

  5. Roberta
    Jul 21 2011

    People do not care! They are too busy carting thier kids to all kinds of events to worry about something they think they can do nothing about.

    Very sad state of affairs here in lincoln.

    • ej
      Jul 22 2011

      Yeah, that must be it. Sheesh!

  6. porcupine
    Jul 21 2011

    I think he is trying to drum up more smoke signals because a few of his mirrors have been cracked. What I mean by cracked mirrors is dead lines not met with B.N, Problems with contracts and paperwork. Firing a project manager in the middle of a project, lack of transparency when you want it, Lost at the C.I.R, costing the city a bundle. And lets not forget about the bad bosses Colby talked about on drive time.

  7. Roger Yant
    Jul 21 2011

    We can protest all we want. They will pretend like they are listening, but won’t act on what the people want. Can’t the people see this, we are not represented by our equals, they are royalty and they act like it. I hear all day long people saying we don’t need a higher property tax, higher wheel tax and for damn sure higher parking tickets, (that will be good for downtown shopping) but these people are tired of no one listening to them. I am tired of them ignoring us the people who pay those taxes. We keep electing these elitist’s snobs, we deserve what we get.

    • chanda leer
      Jul 21 2011

      When half of the city either works for a branch of government or is married to someone who does, what else do we expect from elections?

      • Porcupine
        Jul 22 2011

        Chanda do you think this is right, or part of the problem?

    • Roger C.
      Jul 22 2011

      Well, fortunately we aren’t electing people with weird crack-pot ideas and/or schemes, or those who like to file unsubstantiated, baseless lawsuits for the taxpayers to pay to defend. Thanks goodness for that, wouldn’t you agree?

  8. fedwayup
    Jul 22 2011

    What a scam! This administration has gotten so comfortable over the last few years and now all the backdoor politics are starting to surface. It’s too bad when your leadership makes a statement and your first reaction is to try and figure out what the lie is, and how are we getting the screws put to us! Was the mayor’s chief of staff this questionable under prior administration?

  9. Joe's Bro
    Jul 22 2011

    I support only a little bit of the city budget. And only for selfish reasons. I am tired of supporting non profit organizations with my property tax money.

    The budget includes that electric ratepayers pay for streetlights, this would include non-profits that now pay nothing towards these lights because they pay no property taxes.

    This is only the start of non-profits paying something back to the city. When the school systems in Lincoln and Waverly hash out their budgets, I will support paying their electric bills with an add on to my electric bill. This increase would also go to the non property tax paying non profits entities. Finally then non profits in this county would begin to support the cities in at least an indirect way, even though they will still just use police, fire, streets and not financially support them.

    My other question is, just how much in taxes is the city short of? I have not heard that the city is taking in 10%-20% less in revenue. Or is the tax increases because of past giveaways in: blighted properties, TIF, the county jail JPA…(the county jail that was built in spite of voter rejection and without a true look at alternatives, such as early release) and do not forget the state “Employment Growth & Investment Act.” I am thinking the city and the state has tax money going out in buckets, not because there is less money coming in.

    And do not forget, the state is second in the nation in unemployment rates. It appears that more Nebraskans are working for less and supporting more government handouts than ever before.

    • Gene
      Jul 25 2011

      A lot of these non-profits are supported by tax paying citizens through foundations, endowments and general contributions. If you want to start taxing non-profits, I hope you plan to include religious institutions.

    • Commenter
      Jul 27 2011

      Non profits by definition “give back” to the community, otherwise they are denied nonprofit status. You have to prove that you are providing a benefit in order for the community to subsidize you (via exemption from property taxes or sales taxes or the charitable deduction for donors). Do you really think that all the hospitals in Lincoln (all nonprofits) provide no value to the city? Or Madonna, or Tabitha? Or food pantries, shelters for battered women and children, after school programs, programs to teach people to speak English? Do you think there is no value to the city in having a great orchestra? Lincoln’s YMCA enrolls more than 30,000 kids in youth sports every year. They also certify lifeguards (as does the Red Cross, another nonprofit). Not to mention that non profits employ thousands of people (taxpayers!) in Lincoln.


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