Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Heineman's Insecurity Exposed

by Kyle Michaelis
Dave Heineman is bordering on the pathetic in his efforts to hold on to the governorship. That his every position since assuming the state's highest office last year has been driven by blatant political calculation is one thing. Now, however, he's using state resources, including his own time and that of his staff, to sabotage his opponent Tom Osborne's campaign by limiting access to state officials.

The Omaha World-Herald reports:
Gov. Dave Heineman gives new meaning to the political maxim "keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

He has issued a verbal order that either he, or one of his staff members, should attend any meetings between state agency directors and his chief adversary, U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne.

Heineman attended a meeting between Osborne and State Property Tax Administrator Cathy Lang, and he wanted to attend a meeting of Osborne and Nebraska National Guard Maj. Gen. Roger Lempke. The latter meeting eventually was scrapped.

Heineman even requested that Osborne's session with Lang be held in his office, said Osborne and Lang. Osborne refused. When Osborne showed up for the meeting in Lang's office, Heineman was waiting for him.

Heineman, traveling Tuesday in western Nebraska, said through a spokesman that it made "common sense" for him to sit in on meetings that include his rival and that are political in nature.

Osborne, whose campaign set up the meeting with Lang, said he was "surprised" by Heineman's actions and planned no more meetings.

"If this is the policy, it's not worth the trouble. But that's OK. We'll just do it another way," Osborne said....

Heineman spokesman Aaron Sanderford said the governor issued the order after learning that Osborne and his campaign manager, Vickie Powell, had met with the director of the Revenue Department.

Heineman's insistence on sitting in is unusual, but it also points out that each governor handles challengers differently.

In 2002, then-Gov. Mike Johanns, a Republican, allowed his budget director to give Democratic challenger Stormy Dean a one-day briefing.

"Actually, they were fairly open with showing us stuff . . . if we had a specific question and we asked it of somebody, we always got a response," Dean said.

But, Sanderford said, this is an unusual race.

"I don't know if there's ever been protocol for a (primary) race quite like this...this is a sitting governor versus a sitting congressman," he said.

Sanderford said Osborne's requests for meetings are like one business executive applying for another's job, then asking to talk to current employees to find out "how the business worked and how it can be improved."

In such a situation, it would only make sense for the current business executive to monitor any meetings between his rival and his staff members, he said.

What a load of crap. For all the talk of running government like a business, there's one important difference that Heineman doesn't seem to understand - he is not the boss; the people of Nebraska are.

There's absolutely no justification for a public servant resorting to pettiness such as this. What kind of game does Heineman think he's playing? As a citizen, let alone a Congressman, Osborne has every right to know how this business works. As a candidate, he is obligated to offer ideas how it can be improved.

Heineman using his influence to stand in the way of this shows total disregard for the public good and the democratic process. Those he seeks to intimidate and silence with this de facto gag order work for Nebraska's tax-payers and owe no special allegiance to this would-be tyrant.

Heineman's spokesman is right; this is an unusual race - unusual because it involves a sitting governor so consumed by fear and jealousy that he is willing to turn the entire engine of government to serve his lust for power.

It is a sad display of his true character and where Heineman's true interests lie - not with what's best for the state but what's best for his political career. I just hope Nebraskans are paying attention and will show this unelected egomaniac the door.

Much can be said of Osborne's faux-modesty, but there is no doubt he would show more respect for the enormous faith with which a governor is entrusted, that he might serve the voters with the honor and dignity such office deserves.

Alas, it is a dignity that Heineman has here proven himself entirely lacking and, hence, unsuitable for the job to which he so desperately clings.

1 Comments:

Blogger Knightn said...

Heineman is a joke and has been playing extreme election politics since he was elected sacrificing the interests of the Nebraska people!

1/12/2006  

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