Heineman and Bruning could face federal investigation Political activist group BOLD Nebraska is filing a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission over campaign contributions Gov. Dave Heineman and state Attorney General John Bruning received from the Canadian company hoping to build an oil pipeline that would transport a half-million barrels of oil a day across Nebraska, including over the ecologically delicate Ogallala Aquifer. Two weeks ago, Bruning and Heineman each returned $2,500 contributions to TransCanada after saying they were unaware foreign contributions were illegal under the Federal Election Campaign Act. BOLD Nebraska spokeswoman Jane Kleeb isn’t convinced, saying the laws have been in place for more than 40 years. An outspoken critic of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the group operates a tip line and website for landowners to report questionable TransCanada tactics. If the Nebraska Republicans are found to have knowingly accepted the contributions, they could face fines of up to $11,000. The FEC says investigations typically take a few months. While Heineman has been unwilling to enter the debate over the controversial pipeline, Sen. Mike Johanns took a stand last Thursday, asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to examine why no alternative routes have been considered. Heineman has frequently refused to weigh in on the pipeline, saying it is a federal rather than state issue. The project is currently awaiting approval from the U.S. State Department. People could decide whether gays, lesbians deserve protection The Omaha City Council will consider a motion on Oct. 26 to allow the public to vote on whether gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people will benefit from anti-discrimination protection, under a new proposal from Councilman Franklin Thompson. In September, Councilman Ben Gray introduced an amendment to the city charter adding sexual identity and gender expression to an ordinance already protecting against discrimination based on race, religion, sex, marital status or age. The Council was schedule to adopt or deny the change next Tuesday, but a vote for Thompson’s public election proposal would push the decision to the next regular city election scheduled for May of 2013. No Nebraska cities protect members of the GLBT community from discrimination. Civil rights organization director says Latinos increasingly targeted The number of hate groups and anti-government militias in the U.S. has skyrocketed over the last few years, says Heidi Beirich, director of research for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization founded in 1971 in Montgomery, Ala. The fight Martin Luther King, Jr. and his contemporaries waged in Montgomery is the same battle being fought today in Fremont, Neb., she says, referring to controversy over a city ordinance that bans renting homes to or hiring undocumented immigrants. Beirich spoke to a crowd of about 100 people Saturday at the Nebraskans for Peace 2010 Annual Peace Conference at First United Methodist Church, N. 69th and Cass, about the status of hate groups and hate crimes nationally. While the four hate groups SPLC has recorded currently active in Nebraska is a relatively low number — only seven other states have fewer groups — nationally, the number has jumped 55 percent since 2000, from 602 to 932. Texas came in first, with a recorded 66 hate groups. A “perfect storm” of conditions have led to the increase nationally, Beirich says: changing demographics, high unemployment and President Obama’s election. In 1970, the U.S. population was 17 percent non-white, 83 percent white. In 2010, those numbers are 34 percent and 66 percent. “This demographic trend is, of course, terrifying to someone who believes the country should be run by white people,” she says. More and more, the focus of that hate and fear is being transferred from African-Americans to Latinos. “We have seen almost every hate group in the United States shift from anti-black messaging back in the late ’90s to anti-immigrant messaging,” Beirich says. And militias have also dramatically increased — in 2008, SPLC recorded 149 militia movements. In 2009, that number exploded by 240 percent to 512 movements. The peak for militias was in 1996, with 858; the Oklahoma City bombing happened in 1995. State presses on with child welfare reform The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services received a one-time, emergency payment of $9.8 million in federal funds Friday for its ailing child welfare system. Earlier this month, the state canceled its contract with the Boys and Girls Home to provide care for more than 3,000 foster children — the third of five providers to succumb to budget shortfalls since state officials moved to privatize child welfare services in April. Nebraska DHHS CEO Kerry Winterer says the funds will be used to continue placing children under privatized care while evaluating potential replacements for the Boys and Girls Home. Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, a nonprofit organization specializing in social injustices, says Nebraska needs to rethink the reform before moving forward. “We had hoped that the state would take some time to fully reevaluate the structure of this reform and whether it makes sense for Nebraska,” says executive director Rebecca Gould, adding that the organization has seen little evidence that the reform plan is sustainable. Suttle supporters emerge as recall effort hits the streets A month-long effort to recall Mayor Jim Suttle begins Thursday when the Mayor Suttle Recall Committee begins distributing petitions in hopes of forcing the mayor out of office. The Committee will have 30 days to collect the nearly 27,000 signatures necessary to force a recall election early next year. Two anti-recall groups came out last week in support of Suttle. The Committee to Keep Omaha Moving Forward, led by philanthropist Dick Holland, and Forward Omaha both said they were filing paperwork with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission. Campaign groups are required to register with the NADC if they plan to raise more than $5,000. Suttle began accepting donations to fight the recall two weeks ago. The MSRC says it has more than 200 volunteers signed up to help collect the signatures. The group will kick-off the campaign Friday at 5:30 p.m. with a rally at its headquarters at 720 N. 129th St. Shooting Rounds Edward Wilson and Anthony Swindle, both 39, were expected to survive after being shot at Wilson’s home at 4320 N. 40th St. on Oct. 14. Police have made no arrests. Police found Otis Holford, 29, suffering from numerous gun shot wounds early Friday morning outside the Seville Bar near 30th and Pratt. He is expected to survive. Police have made no arrests. Davonta Williams and Lawandell Hernandez, both 19, were expected to survive after being shot near 25th and Spaulding Monday afternoon. Police recovered a shotgun at the scene but have made no arrests. Hilary Stohs-Krause covered Heidi Beirich’s talk

Subscribe to The Reader Newsletter

Our awesome email newsletter briefing tells you everything you need to know about what’s going on in Omaha. Delivered to your inbox every day at 11:00am.

Become a Supporting Member

Subscribe to thereader.com and become a supporting member to keep locally owned news alive. We need to pay writers, so you can read even more. We won’t waste your time, our news will focus, as it always has, on the stories other media miss and a cultural community — from arts to foods to local independent business — that defines us. Please support your locally-owned news media by becoming a member today.

Leave a comment