VOICE Omaha has endorsed candidates for the Omaha municipal general election. VOICE is a group of creative and engaged young professionals who are concerned about economic development, sustainability, cultural diversity, equality, etc. And they evaluate candidates based upon those values. Read their endorsements. I found no disagreements with my own views.
Today the Omaha World-Herald gave its endorsement in the mayoral race to Jean Stothert. I've been intending to write my endorsement, so this seems like a good time. I'll tell you why I'm voting for Jim Suttle, and think you should. And also why I am not voting for Jean Stothert, as I think this is definitely one of those times that even if you didn't have someone to vote for, you should definitely vote against Jean. Which means I think the World-Herald is fundamentally mistaken.
Yes, Jim Suttle is not a great politician. People all the time say they want people who aren't politicians, and Jim is an example of that. He has made political missteps, identified in the World-Herald editorial. Some of these have angered me. I think that needs to be acknowledged.
But I still like him personally, think he is a good mayor, and will vote for him. He's not a great politician because he is an engineer, who comes to issues with a problem-solving mindset. And his track record of problem-solving big issues is strong.
His administration righted a financial mess and kept the city's bond-rating and economic performance high. This was not easy, and was accomplished with unpopular taxes. As someone coming from outside, I found these new taxes to be minimal and much lower than what I've experienced in other cities. I think Omahans were unrealistic that they could maintain an first class city in the 21st century without increasing investments.
We will never fully know how significant having Jim Suttle in office was when we were faced with the 2012 flood. We had an engineer who knew what he was doing at the helm. It is only through hard work and diligent planning that this city avoided a catastrophe that would have cost us millions of dollars.
The number one reason I'm voting for Jim is because of the federal mandate that we redesign our sewer system. It is a massive, expensive program. And as an engineer, Jim knows what he is doing. He has already persuaded the EPA to make changes in the program, lowering our costs, and he will continue to do so. I think that this is the most important issue currently facing the city, and I can't imagine people would be stupid enough not to leave an expert in office to oversee.
Beyond the problem-solving, I have experienced Jim as a friendly and engaging of citizens. I met him shortly after we moved here and have had multiple encounters with him. Every time I've been in a room with him, I have watched him treat everyone with respect and dignity. He has actually listened to concerns. I was very impressed when he came to a Community Meal where our church was serving mostly homeless people. He had genuine, good conversations with people there.
And I have been very impressed by his support of the LGBT community in our effort to secure civil rights. Jim has been a wonderful ally. I can't believe that Omaha wants a mayor who doesn't believe in equality for all.
But if they elect Jean Stothert, that is what they will get. Jean has a track record on both the Millard School Board and the City Council of opposing equality. She is a supporter of discrimination in employment, as her two votes on the Equal Employment Ordinance indicate.
And, in my experience, she is not a nice person. Every single time I have seen her interacting with citizens, save once when she was campaigning in this race, I have seen her be rude, disrespectful, and mean. Her nickname, by which people throughout this city of all parties and walks of life call her, is "Mean Jean." I would never stoop to calling her that myself, but that the nickname is so widespread indicates something.
Before I knew anything about her, I wached her in a city council meeting debating the CVS on Dodge and an early round of the fire contract. I was new the city, but was amazed that an elected official would treate concerned citizens, coming up to speak, with such disrespect, criticizing their emotion and not listening seriously to their concerns.
Every other member of the city council, including those with whom I have disagreed, have made opportunities for dialogue with them. I have had pleasant and meaningful exchanges with all of them, save Councilwoman Stothert. Her e-mails to me, for instance, have been rude and uninterested in listening. They have also been filled with factual errors and misunderstandings of basic consitutional principles. I have also seen e-mail exchanges she has had with friends and other citizens, and I have been amazed that she would write such mean and nasty things to people simply trying to share their views and persuade her.
The strongest example I can give is a story of my friend Ellen James who had gone to Jean to educate her on trans issues. Ellen's daughter is trans, and Ellen shares the images that her daughter drew as a young child, indicating that she was a girl and not a boy. Ellen's presentation is moving and powerful, everyone I've seen, even very conservative people, are at least moved by Ellen's stories. Jean's response was "quit trying to emotionally manipulate me."
This is not the sort of person I want as mayor.
I can't imagine other people do either. I was frankly shocked by her vote total in the primary and am further shocked that the World-Herald would endorse her.
For me, this is not partisan. The last time I voted for a mayor, in Oklahoma City, I voted for the Republican mayor who was doing a very good job. I must oppose Jean, not because we have disagreed on issues, but because for me she does not meet the most minimal requirement of being a kind human being.
And I support Jim because he is a good problem-solver who has served our city well.
In the same way that they usually get Reagan wrong, they get Thatcher wrong as well. A good article from the Washington Post on the real leadership style of Margaret Thatcher -- she compromised as needed. An excerpt:
The party’s allergy to spirited, but civil, disagreement has become a debilitating disease. It also is a disservice to the political legacies of Thatcher and Reagan, who would never have wanted rigidity and thoughtlessness to be hallmarks of the conservatism they championed. “I love argument,” Thatcher once said. “I love debate. I don’t expect anyone to just sit there and agree with me. That’s not their job.”
I also appreciated this Thatcher quote, in the article, from after Sept. 11, 2001:
“Don’t fall into the trap of imagining that the West can remake societies,” Thatcher wrote after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “Anyone who really believes that a ‘new order’ of any kind is going to replace the disorderly conduct of human affairs, particularly the affairs of nations, is likely to be severely disappointed.”
Had Thatcher invoked such sentiments as a Republican senator during Bush’s presidency, she would have lost her primary.
The state is preceded in death by fair taxation, good highways, strong education, family farms, a good public parks and wildlife system, open government, neighborliness and belief in helping each other out, freely elected public servants, and political moderation.
Kansas is survived by widespread poverty, low-wage jobs, high property taxes, pollution, poorly educated children, out-migration and rural depopulation, foreign land and farm ownership, lobbyist-funded legislators, chronic mistreatment of the disabled, a maniacal hatred of government and children who dream of living anywhere else.
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/04/09/4171966/rip-the-once-great-state-of-kansas.html#storylink=cpy
WaPo lists five myths about Margaret Thatcher. It is a older piece, from when The Iron Lady was about to premier. I particularly like what it says about Thatcher's views of economic regulation:
But the deregulation she pursued had nothing to do with the lack of oversight that contributed to the meltdown on Wall Street. Before Thatcher, commissions of civil servants decided, for example, what sorts of cars Britons should drive. That was the kind of regulation she ended. She was a passionate proponent of regulation that makes free markets function properly — otherwise known as the rule of law.
Thatcher supported stringent bank regulation. Consider the 1986 Financial Services Act which, contrary to its reputation, closed loopholes in investor protection laws, boosted the enforcement power of regulators, and applied the same investor protection standards to a broad range of securities and investment activities.
Thatcher stood for thrift, sound money and balanced budgets, powered by private enterprise. The uncontrolled explosion of debt in Western economies that followed her time in power would have appalled her.