Friday, April 29, 2005

Negative Ads

There is currently a kerfuffle about the use of "negative ads" targeting the two Democratic candidates in the city council race. The state Republican party has been running ads to defeat Democratic incumbent, Terry Werner, and newcomer Dan Martin. Some local Republicans have denounced the ads against Marvin, which deal with his co-chairing the mayor's committe that proposed the $75 million bond issue for "streets and trails" that was soundly thumped in the fall.

That turkey was not entirely his fault. Although Marvin is hardly blameless, the mayor, the other members of the commision and the council deserve their fair share of blame as well. The measure consisted of non-urgent street widenings at the edges of town and expansions to the city's extensive network of biking/hiking trails--something for everyone to oppose. A special election was held for the bond issue just before the November, 2004, election, evidently hoping that low turnout would assure passage. Voters, having recently shot down two proposals in the same calendar year to raise taxes for city schools were not impressed.

Republican incumbent, Ken Svoboda says anti-Werner ads are factual:
Lincoln Journal Star Online: "'We wasted an awful lot of time on the Patriot Act and death penalty,' Svoboda said of Werner's leadership as council chairman."
Indeed. Mr. Werner clearly has the politician's love of the sound of his own voice. Why in the world would the Lincoln city council need to have hearings and debates on the PATRIOT Act? Death penalty a big issue for the city? Nope. These were just issues that Mr. Werner feels strongly about, and so it was necessary for the rest of us to receive the full benefit of his wisdom. Perhaps next term Mr. Werner and the council can debate US foreign policy.
Councilman Glenn Friendt (whose seat is up for grabs Tuesday, and who is not running again) appears in a TV ad accusing Werner of opposing the council's decision to begin reciting The Pledge of Allegiance prior to their weekly meetings. The decision came one week after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Svoboda said Werner had a problem with the pledge's promise of 'liberty and justice for all' and characterization of the United States as 'one nation, under God.'Werner vehemently denies he opposed saying the pledge.

'That's just crazy,' he said. 'We voted unanimously to say it.

'Council meeting minutes do not reflect discussion about the pledge, or a vote, but a 2001 Journal Star story said Werner expressed reservations, saying he didn't oppose the pledge but said it might feed a nationalistic frenzy that doesn't question America.

And in a 2003 letter to the editor, Werner said he questioned whether the pledge should be said because he questions whether the city of Lincoln truly provides 'liberty and justice for all.'

Werner said he didn't, and doesn't, oppose saying the pledge before each meeting.'

I've never said a word about 'under God,' ' he said. 'That's a lie.'"
We've seen this ad, and it comes across as silly. With all the solid reasons to oppose Werner, why focus on The Pledge of Allegiance? However, the letter to the editor questioning whether Lincoln provides 'liberty and justice for all' is typical Werner.

One could also note his baseless accusations of racism against Svoboda and Friendt, followed by whining about the lack of bipartisan cooperation on the council. What might be the problem there? Calling your co-workers racists has always been an excellent way to foster trust and teamwork.

There are his actions as council chairman spearheading the smoking ban in all public places (which was also supported by Svoboda). When amendments began to carve out exceptions, Werner began whining that the ban was hardly worth passing in such watered down form. Suddenly a total ban was passed, then rescinded and a version with no exemptions added to the November ballot.

We don't smoke and don't like being around it, but we believe it's up to the owners of private property to decide what their customers want. The ban was sold as a "health issue" because of the vastly overstated "dangers" of second-hand smoke. This scare campaign was successful, and the "no-exception" version passed by a large majority.

The ban's lack of any exemption for theatrical performances has made Lincoln a national laughing stock for writing a ticket for comedian Ron White's on-stage smoking. Keno revenue for the city is also drastically down since the ban, as smokers take their business outside the city.

Although Lincoln is more liberal than Nebraska as a whole, Mr. Werner is way to the left of liberal.

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