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Kleeb says Bruning should resign… and collect sleeping bags

Jane Kleeb

Bold Nebraska founder Jane Kleeb

A bold Nebraska Democrat is “challenging” Attorney General Jon Bruning to resign his position in the wake of his campaign trail gaffe in which he likened people on welfare to raccoons scavenging for beetles.

Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Jon Bruning

Bruning made the comment while campaigning in Papillion for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Ben Nelson.

Jane Kleeb — founder of the liberal blog Bold Nebraska and wife of former congressional candidate Scott Kleeb — today said Bruning should step down from his day job “so he can focus on his campaign and feel free to say what he will about our fellow Nebraskans without tainting the high-level position he currently holds. His prejudices against an entire group of Nebraskans prohibit him from objectively doing his job.”

But that’s not all. She also challenged him to start collecting new sleeping bags for kids, saying, “As we start our school year, we have far too many homeless kids whose parents are trying to squeeze by and often have to sleep on floors of friends’ and families’ homes. Welfare is a safety net, and the sleeping bags can be a welcome comfort for too many kids in our state.”

Uh, okay. I get the first challenge — the one about stepping down. That’s something I would expect from a hyper-Democrat like Kleeb. But calling on him to gather up sleeping bags for homeless kids?

Bruning is all over the press for this apparently off-the-cuff remark he made while stumping last weekend at the Heartland Liberty Fest, which is sponsored by the Libertarian Party, Americans for Prosperity and the state Republican Party.

The fallout from Bruning’s remarks — which he has apologized for, saying they were “inartful” — includes an Omaha TV report that delved into racial overtones, which was duly reported by Politico today. The TV reporter said, “For Teela Mickles and other African-Americans we talked to, the raccoon reference brought back visions of an insulting anti-black caricature that is dehumanizing, portrayed as idle, lazy and inarticulate.”

And you can bet Bruning’s opponents won’t let people forget the remark in the coming months.


Nebraska ranked 7th most Republican state

This will not come to a surprise to anyone who lives in Nebraska, but now it’s official: This state is really red. Not Husker Red. Republican Red.

A new Gallup survey says Nebraska is the seventh most Republican state in the union right now, based on interviews with more than 170,000 Americans. Republicans hold a 16-percentage-point advantage over Democrats in Nebraska, according to Gallup.

The only states more crimson are Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, North Dakota and Kansas. I’m from North Dakota, and I think Nebraska is more Republican, so there.

I was a little surprised South Dakota didn’t make the Top 10 Republican states.

On the Democratic side, the deepest-blue people resided in the District of Columbia, Hawaii and Maryland. Rounding out the Top 10 were Connecticut (I’ve also lived there, and can confirm that), New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Illinois and Delaware.

No surprises there except for Hawaii — I didn’t realize those Hawaiians had such a blue streak. Can anyone explain that?


City: Wheel taxes won’t go to Antelope Valley anymore

A few years ago, I followed the money flowing into the Antelope Valley Creek to create Lincoln’s Antelope Valley Project, and was surprised to see how much wheel tax revenue was being diverted to the massive public works spectacle in downtown Lincoln.

That was never part of the original plan, but it appeared as though the city was looking everywhere it could for funds to pay for the $246 million project — whose original price tag was advertised at $175 million (although there was a tiny footnote that said * in 1999 dollars).

Local taxpayers were told they’d only have to kick in about $35 million for the project — but by 2008 we’d already spent $68 million. The city got more federal money than expected, but less state money than projected.

And so they turned to the so-called wheel tax and since 1995 the city has spent $28.6 million in wheel tax dollars on Antelope Valley, according to figures recently compiled by the city. I believe that’s part of the reason Lincoln’s roads have deteriorated quickly in recent years — that money could have toward maintaining roads, but instead it was used to build massive new roads in Antelope Valley.

However, the city employee who pulled those figures together for me added, “No other wheel tax dollars will be spent on the AV project.” I’d say that’s probably because Mayor Chris Beutler is instituting a wheel tax increase, and the last time the city increased the tax, city officials reneged on promises to use the money to widen Old Cheney Road from 70th to 84th streets, 56th Street from Old Cheney Road to Pine Lake Road and Pine Lake from 56th to Nebraska 2.

Guess what year the wheel tax was increased? 1995. Guess where $28 million in wheel tax dollars have gone since 1995? Antelope Valley.

I haven’t heard any specific promises being made about how the additional wheel tax money will be used this time around. Maybe somebody learned a lesson about making promises at city hall.

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