September 16, 2014

Former Sen. Council loses law license

Sen. Brenda Council/Photo courtesy of Unicameral Information Office

Sen. Brenda Council/Photo courtesy of Unicameral Information Office

Former state Sen. Brenda Council first lost her legislative seat. Now, she has lost her law license.

The state Supreme Court stripped Council of her law license for using campaign donations to gamble.

Council, who represented a legislative district in Omaha, used $63,000 in campaign funds to gamble at a Kansas casino. She was sentenced late last year to three years’ probation and fined $500 in federal court after pleading guilty to federal wire fraud charges. That followed two misdemeanor convictions in state court for abuse of public records, in which she was fined $500.

Campaign bank accounts and casino records subpoenaed by the Nebraska Attorney General’s office indicate Council withdrew $63,052.56 in campaign funds to gamble at a casino in Kansas City, Kansas. The Attorney General said the investigation uncovered $36,166.32 in unreported/prohibited deposits were made between January of 2010 and July of 2012 as well.

Council lost her re-election bid in the fall to former state Sen. Ernie Chambers, who held the seat until term limits forced him out for a term.

It was Chambers who filed the complaint that prompted the investigation by the United States Attorney’s office.

Council first won election to the 11th District in 2008 after serving on the Omaha school board and city council. She received a law degree from Creighton University.

I-80 traffic stop leads to confiscation of 92 lbs. of marijuana

A car speeding down Interstate 80 in Seward County was carrying more than 92 pounds of marijuana, according to the Nebraska State Patrol.

According to the NSP, a trooper stopped an eastbound car for speeding near the Milford exit. A search led to the confiscation of 92.4 pounds of marijuana, stuffed in a duffle bag and several trash bags in the trunk.

The driver, 23-year-old Derek Smith of Roanoke, VA, has been charged with intent to sell the drugs.

In another stop, a trooper arrested two men for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell it after they stopped to use the restroom at the eastbound Weigh Station on I-80 near Waverly.

Just over eight pounds of marijuana was found in a bag in the rear cargo of their Sports Utility Vehicle.

Both the driver, 23-year-old Marcell Jackson of Chicago, and his passenger, 28-year-old Martez Jackson of Riverdale, IL, are jailed in Cass County.

When deadly force is justified

Since August 26th there have been three cases where homeowners in Omaha either shot an intruder or held them at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived. This leads to the question of homeowner rights and when can deadly force be used. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine says Nebraska law states deadly force can be used if a person fears for their life and did not provoke the situation.

Kleine says if someone breaks into your home you can assume their intent is not good and a homeowner does not have to wait for threats or see if the intruder has a weapon before taking action. He says if there is reasonable fear of harm, sexual assault, kidnapping or death action can be taken even if it is later determined the homeowner made a mistake. Kleine adds that every case is different and they consider all the evidence when determining a shooting death.

On August 26th police say an intruder broke a window and was crawling inside the home when the resident shot him. That intruder survived. Last Tuesday a woman held an intruder at gunpoint until police arrived. Monday morning an Omaha man shot an intruder that had kicked down his front door. That person died.

Argument ends with dog bites and knife wounds

Omaha police continue to investigate an unusual case that started as argument but ended with dog bites and knives. Omaha Police Sgt. Steve Martinez says officers were called to a mid-city home Monday morning to investigate a domestic dispute call. When police arrived they found a man and a woman injured as well as two pit bulls.

Sgt. Martinez says apparently during the argument the woman “sicked” the dogs on the man. The man was able to get a knife and stabbed both dogs. The woman also suffered a minor cut to her foot. The man did not escape without injury as he suffered several minor dog bites.

No word on whether charges will be filed or what will happen to the dogs. Both were taken to the Nebraska Humane Society.

Battle over Keystone XL extends well beyond lawsuit (AUDIO)

Proponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline hold a Capitol news conference prior to Supreme Court oral arguments as opponents look on

Proponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline hold a Capitol news conference prior to Supreme Court oral arguments as opponents look on

A case will be decided by the state Supreme Court, but the battle over the Keystone XL oil pipeline extends well beyond a Nebraska court room.

Supreme Court justices weigh oral arguments in the case against the state law that authorized the Keystone XL route through Nebraska.

But, the author of the bill signed into law, state Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion, insists opponents really aren’t aiming at the law.

“The ideology of the opponents to the pipeline is that they want no fossil fuel. They do not want to move any of the North American oil to the refineries,” according to Smith. “Whether the oil comes from North Dakota or from Canada. That’s really irrelevant in this argument for them.”

Both those for Keystone XL and those opposed crowded into the Nebraska Capitol on Friday to hear the oral arguments and make their presence known.

Four landowners have challenge the law passed by the Unicameral that has shifted authorization to select the route of oil pipelines through Nebraska from the Public Service Commission to the governor. They claim the legislature violated the state constitution by by-passing the PSC.

The landowners won at the lower level. The state appealed to the Supreme Court which has taken the case under advisement and will rule later.

Bold Nebraska has been a vocal opponent of TransCanada from the beginning. It argues the production of crude oil from the oil sands of western Canada is extremely harmful to the environment.

Bold Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb makes it no secret she wants to stop TransCanada from building Keystone XL and that she enjoys being at ground zero.

“So, Nebraska continues to be the lynchpin in the Keystone XL pipeline and nobody would have guessed that on day one.”

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]