May 24, 2015

Fortenberry office hit by “glitter bomb”; no one hurt

Letter from Congressman Fortenberry office

Letter from Congressman Fortenberry office/Photo courtesy of Kevin Thomas

Authorities are investigating after a “glitter” bomb exploded in the Lincoln office of Congressman Jeff Fortenberry.

A spokeswoman for the Congressman says no one was hurt Wednesday. A few members of the Congressman’s staff got showered by sparkles that shot out of the envelope when they opened it.

The envelope contained a note stating, “Congrats, you’ve earned this for trying to deny women their right to choice. Mind your own uterus.”

Various authorities have been notified. A spokesman for Lincoln police says it doesn’t appear the letter was threatening, though it will be analyzed for fingerprints. The FBI and the United States postal inspector have become involved in the investigation.

A recent vote might have prompted the incident. Fortenberry supported efforts in the House of Representatives to deny federal funding for abortions.

KLIN contributed to this story.

UNL professor says Obama not ready to embrace Netanyahu Iran strategy

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor says the Obama Administration isn’t ready to play hardball against Iran as advocated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu addressed Congress Tuesday about the danger Iran poses to Israel, the United States, and the entire world as it continues to develop a nuclear program. Netanyahu stated that everyone should walk away from the table with Iran, arguing Iran needs a deal more than anyone else and will return to the bargaining table.

UNL Political Science professor Ari Kohen says the United States isn’t ready to call that bluff.

“The administration obviously wants to negotiate and believe that diplomatic solution is the best or maybe the only option that is on the table. Netanyahu is convinced there is a better deal out there, especially if the administration is ready to play hard ball,” Kohen says.

About 60 Congressional Democrats did not attend the prime minister’s speech.

Winner-take-all Electoral College bill advances, barely (AUDIO)

Sen. Beau McCoy (left) consults with Sen. John Murante during legislative floor debate

Sen. Beau McCoy (left) consults with Sen. John Murante during legislative floor debate

A measure proposing Nebraska revert to the winner-take-all distribution of presidential electors has cleared an important hurdle, yet still faces an uncertain future.

Supporters broke a filibuster without a vote to spare when Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha switched and cast a ballot to end eight hours of debate he called a waste of time.

“Continuing to say, ‘No this is not a partisan issue.’ Everyone knows it’s a partisan issue,” Krist tells reporters.

Though Krist believes the first round of extended debate proved meaningless, he holds out hope an additional four hours might flesh out the pros and cons of LB 10.

Only Nebraska and Maine award presidential electors by Congressional district. Every other state sticks to the winner-take-all formula.

While Maine adopted the Congressional system in 1969, Nebraska has only had it since 1991. It had never made a difference in Nebraska until 2008 when Democrat Barack Obama successfully snatched an electoral vote from Nebraska when he won the Second Congressional District of Omaha though Republican John McCain won the state handily.

Krist says he likely will offer an amendment to the bill, calling for a University of Nebraska study to determine if switching back gets the results supporters claim.

That, of course, would occur only if the bill passes, which is not guaranteed, primarily because Krist won’t guarantee he will vote again to end a second filibuster expected when the bill returns for its second round of debate.

As for the bill sponsor, Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha, he won’t even concede he’ll face another filibuster.

“Well, I would assume that we’ll have a discussion that’s as robust as it was on General File, but there’s no guarantee of that,” McCoy tells Nebraska Radio Network.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

Debate begins on winner-take-all Electoral College bill (AUDIO)

Sen. Beau McCoy (left) confers with Sen. John Murante during floor debate. Sen. Ernie Chambers is in the foreground.

Sen. Beau McCoy (left) confers with Sen. John Murante during floor debate. Sen. Ernie Chambers is in the foreground, standing.

A very partisan debate is underway among the officially non-partisan state senators as the Unicameral discusses whether Nebraska should again be a winner-take-all state in the presidential elections.

At present, only Nebraska and Maine distribute presidential electors to the Electoral College proportionately.

Maine has had the system since 1969. Nebraska adopted it in 1991.

LB 10, sponsored by Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha, would return Nebraska to the winner-take-all system.

McCoy told colleagues during legislative floor debate close presidential races seem to be the wave of the future.

“And if so, wouldn’t it be nice to have presidential campaigns campaign in North Platte, campaign in Scottsbluff; not just in Omaha?” McCoy asked

Yet, Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue countered McCoy’s bill would do just the opposite. Crawford pointed to 2008, the only presidential election in which the system came into play. While Republican John McCain showed little interest in Nebraska, Democrat Barack Obama sent campaign workers to the Second Congressional District and won an electoral vote from Nebraska even though McCain easily won the state.

Crawford argued the proportional system provides Nebraska with a potentially hot property for presidential candidates.

“I don’t see any possible state interest in giving that advantage away,” Crawford said.

Democrats charge Republicans are pushing the bill as part of a national agenda. Republicans say the current system doesn’t reflect the will of Nebraska voters.

Debate is expected to last most of this week as opponents stage a filibuster against the bill.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin report [:45]

Sexual assault charge filed in Nebraska against Iowa politician dropped

Sexual assault charges filed in Nebraska against an Iowa politician have been dropped.

The charges against 69-year-old Donald Brantz of Mineola, Iowa were originally filed following an incident in Bellevue, Nebraska on October 10, 2014.

Brantz was accused of inappropriately touching a woman and allegedly threatened to choke her. Brantz maintained he was innocent of those charges.

Brantz, who was a candidate for Iowa’s 23rd District Senate Seat vacated by Joni Ernst, was charged back in October with sexual assault in the third-degree, third-degree assault, disturbing the peace and interference with a public utility company.

Sarpy County District Court Judge Robert C. Wester dismissed all but the disturbing the peace charge against Brantz, who pled no contest to that charge and will be sentenced on April 3.

By Chuck Morris