August 1, 2014

Nebraska Republicans defend lawsuit against President Obama (AUDIO)

House Republicans have pushed through a measure to press a lawsuit against President Barack Obama and two Republicans from Nebraska insist it’s not such a far-fetched idea.

Congressman Adrian Smith acknowledges filing a lawsuit against the president for executive overreach is unprecedented, but he counters the president’s actions are unprecedented.

“I think this is the first time we have had an executive that has basically threatened Congress if we wouldn’t do what he wants us to do that he’ll use his pen and his phone to go around us,” Smith tells Nebraska reporters during a conference call.

The lawsuit claims President Obama, a Democrat, has violated the separation of powers in the constitution through several executive orders, including executive orders on climate change, immigration rules, raising the minimum wage for federal contractors, and changes to the federal health care law.

Smith calls the lawsuit an effort by House Republicans to defend the Constitution. He says it is appropriate to file a lawsuit, especially in light of the president’s numerous changes to the Affordable Care Act, the federal health insurance law he pushed through Congress.

Smith says, “This is lawlessness.”

Sen. Mike Johanns stops short of endorsing the move by his fellow Republicans in the House, but has no sympathy for the president.

“I look at this and I say to myself, ‘He’s brought it on himself,’” Johanns tells reporters during his weekly conference call.

Johanns accuses Obama of thinking he got elected king.

“I feel no sympathy for a guy who’s attitude is so cavalier that he says to the American people if you don’t like what I’m doing, sue me,” Johanns says. “I just think that’s just outrageous.”

All but five Republicans voted to file the lawsuit against President Obama. All the Democrats in the House voted against it.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Thousands expected for the National Czech Fest in Wilber, opening today

Polka bands, colorful costumes and kolaches are all part of this weekend’s 53rd annual National Czech Festival in Wilber, the official Czech Capital of the USA.

The celebration kicks off this afternoon with vendors, exhibits, an accordion jamboree and a kids’ parade at 7 PM.

Sheryl Kastanek of the Nebraska Czechs of Wilber urges people to help the community celebrate its Czech heritage. Kastanek says a family can spend very little money to enjoy a lot of events.

“We have close to a thousand volunteers for each festival,” Kastanek says. “Nobody is paid. We just do it to keep the town healthy.”

Wilber Czech Queen Marissa Florian, who’ll be a sophomore at Peru State College this year, helps to bake the fruity pastry desserts known as kolaches, a favorite of those who attend the festival each year.

“We make 14-hundred dozen and they are usually gone by Saturday, if not sooner,” Florian says.

At the Czech Cultural Center downtown, Kastanek says a local group of women will conduct a program to help people understand the Czech language.

“Chat with a Czech,” she says. “One of our locals has developed a class. They have homework and they go all summer long and learn about the Czech language.”

Parades will be held at 2 PM both Saturday and Sunday. The National Miss Czech-Slovak pageant is held at the outdoor theatre, Saturday and Sunday nights, with a Czech Historical Pageant also scheduled.

By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice


Congressman Smith says he supported border bill pulled by Speaker

Congressman Adrian Smith says he supported the immigration bill pulled by House Speaker John Boehner.

Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, pulled his own bill when support fell short of the votes needed for passage.

Smith, a Republican, says though the bill didn’t contain everything he wanted, he would have voted for it.

“I want to do something about this. Now, that doesn’t mean just do anything, but I do want to pursue some solutions here and I think acting in the best interest of children to allow us the opportunity to reunite families when it’s appropriate, rather than just kind of treat everyone the same, I think our bill would allow a process,” Smith tells Nebraska reporters during a conference call.

The bill would have provided $659 million to address the crisis of unaccompanied minors from Central America coming to the United States; a much smaller amount that the $3.7 billion requested by President Barack Obama.

Nearly 60,000 minors from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have crossed the southern border illegally. Approximately 200 have been placed with families or organizations in Nebraska.

Smith acknowledges that time is running out for anything to be done before the five-week August recess.

“The timeframe for this situation is unique given the fact that we’re not scheduled to be in session tomorrow for a while, but I think it’s our job to work for solutions and I want to work in that nature,” according to Smith.

Collection plate money missing from Omaha church

Two thieves made off with collection plate money from a church in south Omaha. Father Bernard Starman with St. Agnes Church says last Sunday an associate priest was approached by a man asking for money. The priest gave the man $5 but he continued to as for more.

Father Starman says another man then tapped the priest on the shoulder asking for a confession. While the priest was busy someone broke in to a locked cabinet and took three bags containing money collected from an earlier mass. The thieves got away with about $4,000.

Omaha police are investigating the theft.


Cattlemen’s Ball goes west, raises more than a million for cancer research

The Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska raised more than a million dollars for cancer research.

This is the fifth consecutive year the Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska raised more than a million dollars.

This year, the ball was held at the Hoot Owl Ranch in Harrisburg June 6th and 7th in extreme western Nebraska’s Banner County. It raised $1.3 million, the fourth highest total. The ball has raised more than $11 million over the years.

The money raised benefits the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, while showcasing Nebraska and promoting beef as part of a healthy diet.

According to officials, 90% of the proceeds will fund cancer research with 10% funding local health care organizations.

“Once again, this reinforces what a unique event the Cattlemen’s Ball is,” said Dr. Ken Cowan,

director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in a statement released UNMC. “There is nothing like it. Each year, it goes to a different Nebraska community, and each year it is an incredible success.

“This year’s ball was special. The entire panhandle rallied behind it. The pristine hills of Banner County made for a spectacular setting. We couldn’t be more grateful for everyone who made it possible. It’s a tremendous commitment, and they couldn’t have pulled it off with more grace and class.”

The ball, which had the theme “Corral a Cure for Cancer,” was a sellout, with 4,000 in attendance. It featured silent and live auctions, a style show, a golf tournament, and art show, and a concert by Montgomery Gentry.

The Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska next year will be held on June 5th and 6th at the Tom Herzog and Kim Schweers’ Ranch near Redbird, close to the Niobrara River.