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Mixed Results In 2018

Although there weren’t many surprises in our recent election cycle usually there are none at all,  and so,  a brief look back through the settled dust.

Voter turnout: 696 thousand Nebraskans voted this time around out of a possible 1.2 million who are registered for a turnout of 57%.  While not as high as a presidential election year ( 2016 was 71%) it was still a solid increase over 2014’s 48 % rate. According to the Secretary of State website Republicans hold a statewide 48 – 31 percent advantage over Democrats in registered voters with 20% remaining or defaulting to independent or non-partisan as it is officially termed. Libertarians have .01 % and Greens are not currently recognized and need to petition again to get ballot status.

Money turnout: As usual more dollars turned out to vote than people.  Open Secrets ( reports that a combined $12.3 million was raised for Nebraska’s House and Senate races this cycle, 56% by Republicans and 40% by Democrats. In the Senate race Republican Deb Fischer out-begged her opponent Jane Raybould by a 3-1 margin (about $6 million to $2 million) with some 90% of  Fischer’s money coming from PACs and what Open Secrets calls “large individual contributions”.  The Bacon vs Eastman race in the 2nd Congressional District was much closer with Bacon having the slight edge of 2.48 million to Eastman’s 2.35 million(which was raised with Eastman refusing PAC contributions). Bacon retained his seat by just 2 percentage points 51-49.

One other interesting note can be found at Open Secrets by going to the Nebraska page through their search box and clicking on the Donor menu. There you will find that TD Ameritrade , not the organization itself but its owners (Ricketts family) their employees and their PACs, spent more than $3.7 million around the country (including Nebraska of course) just on congressional elections. This is 10 times what the next highest donor spent and about as much as the rest of the top 20 donors in Nebraska combined.

Results: As expected most incumbents at the state level were reelected, Bacon by just 6500 votes, Fortenberry and Smith by remaining invisible. In broad terms the 20% who are non-partisans split evenly enough that Democrats could not overcome the registration advantage held by Republicans. What was a slight surprise is that Initiative 427, to expand Medicaid to some of the working poor, won by 6-7 points mostly on the strength of urban and suburban voters. And while pipeline and climate activists came just short of “flipping” the Public Service Commission to a more progressive makeup, a real clean energy advocate, Eric Williams was elected to the OPPD Board.

Looking ahead: After 3 terms as Secretary of State, John Gale is stepping aside and his elected replacement,  Bob Evnen, has declared support for more stringent voter ID laws so we need to keep a lookout in that direction.   Even though the Democrats picked up a couple seats in the state legislature it remains solidly Republican and only nominally non-partisan.

November 6th is Closer Than You Think

Election Day is speeding toward us and whether that fills you with anticipation or dread or both we need to remember the basics. Since you’re here on the Nebraska Greens website most of this may be old news but a reminder or a how-to for friends and relatives is often helpful.

Until we pass some form of universal voter registration (a topic for another column) you still have to register to vote if you have never done so before or if you have changed your name, address or party affiliation. You can do this a number of ways: in person at your county election office; online at the Nebraska Secretary of State website  ; at the DMV office when you get or renew a drivers license; or at Dept. of Health and Human Services or the Dept. of Education when you register for programs with those departments. The registration deadline this year is Friday October 19th for all of these methods except registering at your county election office which is Friday October 26th.

And until we make Election Day a federal holiday (also another interesting discussion) many of us may need to vote early or by mail. You can vote early in person at your county election office through the end of business hours the day before the election. If you prefer to have your early/absentee ballot mailed to you, you need to request it from the county election office by October 19th.  Go to to find information on your county election office. It can be returned in person or by mail anytime before 8pm on Election Day.

Finally, if you aren’t sure where to vote – perhaps you have moved or you lost the little card the election office sent you – you can also go to the look-up page at the Sec. of State site If you are registered and feel you are in the right place but still run into a challenge at your polling place remember you can ask for a provisional ballot.

LJS Editorial: Life sentences are safe alternative to death penalty

From the Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board:

Nebraskans who want to keep the death penalty off the books in Nebraska took a proactive step last week to reassure Nebraskans that when a murderer is sentenced to life in prison, it means just that.

The anti-death penalty group included some Nebraskans who can speak with consummate authority.

Here’s what retired District Court Judge Ronald Reagan had to say:

“I want to make sure there is no legal confusion,” Reagan said. “Life imprisonment means life in prison, no chance of parole. Anything else is legal posturing and has no grounding in the legal realities.”

Reagan ought to know. He’s the judge who sentenced John Joubert to death. John Joubert, a sadistic serial killer convicted of stabbing two boys to death, died in the electric chair in 1996. He was one of the last people to be executed in the state.

“I have seen the worst of the worst cases in Nebraska and I have studied the laws very carefully,” Reagan said. “Let me be perfectly clear about what happens when someone is sentenced to life imprisonment in Nebraska – they die in prison.”

Read the full editorial.

Nebraskans join Cowboy Indian Alliance in DC


Ten years ago, if you had asked retired school teacher and Antelope County farmer Art Tanderup if he wanted to fly to Washington, D.C., for a political rally on the National Mall, he might have said you’re a few ears of corn short of a bushel.

“I never thought I’d see myself doing things like this, but here we are,” he said during a recent interview.

Monday afternoon, he was on the road with Carol Smith of Plainview and Oakdale-area rancher Mike Blocher, headed to Eppley Airfield in Omaha.

They plan to spend the week taking part in a “Reject and Protect” demonstration against the Keystone XL pipeline organized by the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, a group of farmers, ranchers and tribal leaders.

Read more.

President Obama must say no to the tar-sands pipeline


For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
This release is online at

Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-904-7614
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805

Green Party urges President Obama, Sec. of State Kerry to reject the tar-sands pipeline

• Greens see danger of approval after the State Dept.’s report and call the pipeline a test for Obama: Will he fight climate change or surrender to Big Oil?

• Green Party Speakers Bureau: Green leaders available to speak on global warming and energy:

WASHINGTON, DC — “President Obama is standing at a crossroads right now. He can say no to the Keystone XL pipeline and prove that his administration is serious about reducing production and consumption of fossil fuels. Or he can satisfy Big Oil and major investors by okaying the pipeline’s conveyance of dirty, dangerous tar-sands crude oil from Canada across the U.S.,” said Darryl! L.C. Moch, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.

Green Party leaders called the State Department’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, released last week, a troubling sign that the President might approve the pipeline soon.

The Green Party has strongly opposed the pipeline and is urging the Secretary of State John Kerry and the State Dept., as well as other agencies, to reject it. (The State Dept.’s 90-day National Interest Determination is now underway.)

“The goal of domestic ‘energy independence’ is a distraction from the real goal — ending subsidies for fossil fuels and averting a global climate catastrophe in the coming decades,” said Kate Culver, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.

“The bipartisan rhetoric of energy dependence proves that Democrats and Republicans are too beholden to corporate contributions and lobbyists’ influence to effectively deal with the climate crisis. This is why we call the Green Party an imperative for the 21st century,” added Audrey Clement, co-chair of the Green Party’s Eco-Action Committee (

Greens said that development of the tar-sands oil fields in Alberta, Canada, was one of several energy-industry projects that must be halted. Others include fracking, mountaintop detonation mining, offshore drilling in U.S. coastal waters, and “clean coal.” The Elk River chemical spill on Jan. 9, which left 300,000 West Virginians without drinkable or usable water, proved “clean coal” to be a public-relations myth. The spilled chemical was a foam used to wash coal and remove polluting impurities.

Recent spills are irrefutable proof that pipeline safety cannot be guaranteed. Recent examples include the July 2011 ExxonMobil pipeline rupture that dumped 63,000 gallons of Canadian crude oil into the Yellowstone River and the March 2013 ExxonMobil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, involving the rupture of a pipeline carrying Canadian crude oil.

Even if it were possible to transport Canadian tar-sand bitumen without catastrophic accidents and spills, extraction and refinement consumes more energy than the bitumen ultimately yields, releasing significantly more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than petroleum.

According to the State Dept. report, “Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States.” The report said that rail transportation would bring the crude oil into the U.S. if the pipeline is delayed or canceled.

Greens said that weak, defective, and outdated railcars also pose a danger, citing the derailment of tank cars carrying crude oil in July, 2013, which caused a explosion that killed 47 people in Lac Megantic, Quebec.

These dangers and the threat of toxicity have motivated intense Native Nations opposition to the pipeline, which would place the Oglala Aquifer at risk; see “No Keystone XL Pipeline Will Cross Lakota Lands,” a joint statement from Honor the Earth, the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred, Feb. 2, 2014 (

Greens further noted that the Keystone XL (XL for “Export Limited”) pipeline’s destination at major shipping ports in the Gulf of Mexico indicates that the primary purpose of the pipeline is to make Canadian oil available to foreign markets, enriching oil companies. (See “Pipe Dreams?”, Cornell University Global Labor Institute,

Green Party leaders pointed to the conflict of interest in the State Dept.’s Environmental Impact Statement: several employees of Environmental Resources Management, the firm contracted to help prepare the statement, have ties to TransCanada, the firm which will construct the pipeline (“State Dept. Hid Contractor’s Ties to Keystone XL Pipeline Company” by Andy Kroll, Mother Jones, March 21, 2013,

The Green Party supports conversion of all U.S. power plants to 100% clean carbon-free, nuclear-free energy instead of proposed EPA rules that initially only affect new plants and rely on the unproven viability of carbon capture and sequestration. Green candidates have advocated the Green New Deal, a detailed plan to jumpstart the economy by creating millions of new jobs in conservation, new technologies, retro-fitting of homes and buildings, expansion of public transportation to reduce car traffic, and other projects to curb the advance of climate change (


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Green Shadow Cabinet

Time to Escalate Our Nonviolent Efforts

by Stephanie Van Hook, Director, Conflict Resolution Service, Green Shadow Cabinet

Originally published here on Jan. 30th, as a response to Pres. Obama’s State of the Union address.

“Truth-telling is powerful. People don’t try it often enough.” – Guy Saperstein

The power of nonviolence as the key to strengthen our democracy was noticeable by its absence in Obama’s State of the Union address. Gandhi, we may remember, felt that democracy would never be complete without nonviolence, because, among other things, there would be no protection for those who are weak, or who dissent.

Perhaps, by resigning the movement to silence, the President signaled to us that it’s time to escalate our efforts.

One of the most fundamental questions in nonviolence is whether our means are aligned with our ends. Obama has often noted (rather paternalistically) that while we can agree on the ends, we will disagree on the means, in other words that he can use whatever means suit him – reminiscent of the Bush quip, “I’m the decider.”

He misses the point; The means for anything are more important than the ends.

Read more here.

Sec. Kerry’s National Interest Determination on Keystone XL

We have now entered a new 30-day public comment period, where you can make your voice heard and tell John Kerry to get the facts right about the environmental dangers of Keystone XL and say NO to this dirty pipeline now. 

Here are some key facts to consider including in your comment to Sec. Kerry and the State Dept:

  • Climate action starts at home, and one of the first and clearest actions Sec. Kerry could take would be to recognize that the Keystone XL tarsands pipeline is a climate issue.
  • The evidence is clear that Keystone XL could increase production levels of tar sands oil in Alberta, and therefore significantly add to carbon emissions. The massive investment would lock us into dependence on this dirty fuel for decades, exacerbating carbon pollution just when we have to go quickly and decisively in the other direction.
  • Beyond the effects on our climate, this dangerous pipeline would also put the water supply of millions of Americans at risk, including the precious Ogallala Aquifer, Platte and Niobrara rivers, and hundreds of individual families’ wells. After a year in which many communities were harmed by spills from existing pipelines, we cannot allow any more of the dirtiest, most toxic oil on earth to spill into our lands and waterways.

Click here to use BOLD Nebraska’s easy comment form.

Green Drinks event Jan 22nd in Omaha!

Green Drinks is happy to join the Flatwater Chapter for their annual membership soiree, held this year at Block 16, downtown. They’re a great bunch and I encourage all Green Drinkers (many of whom are already members) to attend. It’s $5 cover for non-members, but any morsel at Block 16 is worth far more.

RSVP requested here. 

As always – please pass the word to others who might be interested in attending these fine events.

WHAT:___ The world-famous *** Green Drinks ***
WHEN:___ NEW TIME 4:00 ’til 6+ pm, Wednesday 22nd Jan 2014
RULE: ___ Fourth Wednesday of every odd month (Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Sep, Nov)
WHERE:__NEW LOCATION – Block 16, 1611 Farnam Street, (402) 342-1220
HOW:____ Walk, cycle, bus, carpool 🙂
WHO:____ Anyone working on environmental issues (green business, architecture, design, clean energy, natural resources, and more) or studying them
WHY:____ Fun, contacts, alcohol (& non-alcohol), info, gossip, inspiration, business and pleasure
NEW:____ Just go up to someone and say “are you green?”, and you’ll be made welcome.
REMIND:_ We have a send-only email circulation list; to get on it, send an email with subject heading “Green Drinks NE”
PRIVACY: This email list is ONLY for Green Drinks reminders.

STATUS: Informal, self-organizing network. Continued growth and learning at every meeting. Thanks for sharing your time and knowledge with others!!

Net Neutrality – too late to save it?

A federal appeals court just killed critically important government protections against discrimination online; the giant Internet service providers (ISPs) — Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable — now have total control over what information we can access on the web.

It’s a nightmare scenario, and one the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has long seen coming. A self-imposed, Bush-era rule restricting the agency’s ability to regulate broadband foreshadowed the court’s finding this week that ISPs no longer have to treat all web users equally — they can block websites, slow down services, and double- and triple-dip in charging extra fees to restore access.

But we have the power to stop this. By raising our voices together, we can ensure the FCC has the political will to act on its authority to reverse a decade of failed Internet policy — and the courage to stand up to an industry that has pushed it around for too long.

FCC chair Tom Wheeler says he supports a free and open Internet, but actions speak louder than words. Demand the FCC re-regulate broadband and save the Internet now.

The Internet is an essential service we rely on to conduct our most basic daily affairs, from applying for a job to finding a home to running a small business. And our right to communicate freely and be heard lies at the heart of our ability to participate fairly in our democracy.

ColorOfChange has been at the forefront of efforts to protect our ability to communicate freely online since we fought to enshrine rigorous FCC Net Neutrality rules in 2010. Real Net Neutrality ensures ISPs and content companies can’t collude to turn the democratic Internet into corporate-controlled cable TV, full of restrictions, limits on consumer choice, and toll stations designed to maximize their profits at our expense. In the wake of this week’s ruling, Net Neutrality is dead.

Imagine Comcast penalizing subscribers for accessing news sources not owned by its NBC subsidiary. Imagine AT&T shutting off access to T-Mobile’s customer service website. Verizon charging you — and the school you’re attending — extra for you to access classroom resources online. ISPs are now legally permitted, and more financially incentivized than ever before, to engage in precisely these types of predatory behaviors.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The court agreed the FCC has the power, bestowed by Congress, to regulate ISPs’ business practices — if only the agency can rethink its conflicting, overly restrictive internal rules. Chairman Wheeler has clear direction that it’s time to reclassify broadband companies as common carriers, affording the public the same anti-discrimination protections we all enjoy when making a phone call, using electricity, or taking public transportation.

Can you take a moment to make sure Chairman Wheeler gets the message? Join us in urging the FCC to defend our right to communicate by reclassifying broadband now.