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Ricketts Would Be Fired By The Board Of Directors If Nebraska Was A Business

Pete Ricketts inherited a very poor situation from Dave Heineman. Both the Departments of Health and Human Services and Corrections were in shambles due to his mismanagement and under funding. Unfortunately, the problems at those agencies have only gotten worse since Ricketts took office.

Since the Omaha billionaire was sworn in, the Nebraska prison system has been plagued by riots due to short staffing and over crowding. There have been two prison riots thus far in which at least four people have been killed. Moreover, inmate assaults upon correctional officers occur on a regular basis.

That same incompetence by the Ricketts Administration has plagued the Nebraska State Patrol — which was once a model agency. Instead, the Nebraska State Patrol has disintegrated since January 2015 and has been hit by numerous scandals.

Ricketts badly hurt the State Patrol when he appointed Brad Rice to head up that agency in 2015. Rice was appointed despite the fact that he had a checkered past at the Patrol and even though Ricketts was warned of his troublesome background.

In 2007, Rice was successfully sued for gender discrimination for making the remark that women shouldn’t be in law enforcement. Due to that outrageous comment, the taxpayers had to fork out $70,000.00 after a jury ruled against Rice.

During his confirmation hearings, Rice allegedly perjured himself under oath when he contradicted sworn testimony from the 2007 gender discrimination trial. Nevertheless, the legislature reluctantly confirmed Rice by a 32 to 7 margin, with 9 Senators not voting.

Unfortunately, all of the reservations expressed by Rice’s opponents in the legislature turned out to be well founded. Rice proved to be a miserable failure running the Patrol and was fired by Ricketts for cause on July 1. Apparently, Rice interfered in internal investigations at the Patrol and is now under an FBI investigation for those alleged cover ups.

Unfortunately, the termination of Rice won’t solve the problems at the Patrol anytime soon. Things will get worse before they get better. On August 3, the Patrol was hit with an explosive lawsuit in which a female State Patrol applicant alleged she was forced to undergo a sexually invasive exam by a male physician that was selected by the Patrol. In contrast, male applicants were not subjected to this outrageous examination. More lawsuits from other female applicants are expected to be filed soon.

When Ricketts ran for Governor in 2014, he touted his business experience and claimed that experience qualified him for the office. It is by now patently obvious that Ricketts is not running the state government like a business. In a business, Ricketts would resign for incompetence prior to the board of directors firing him for his terrible decision making.

Ricketts’ failures goes beyond the fiascoes at the various state agencies. Rural voters are disappointed that Ricketts hasn’t followed through on his promise to deliver property tax relief. Instead, Ricketts has prioritized income tax cuts for the wealthiest Nebraskans that would do nothing for farmers and other residents of rural areas.

Ricketts’ struggles have not gone unnoticed by his political opponents. Already, Republican State Senator Bob Krist has announced a third party challenge to the billionaire Governor. In addition, a well connected source at the Nebraska Democratic Party has told me that they have a five star recruit for Governor who will soon announce his/her candidacy.

There is genuine dissatisfaction with Ricketts among the Republican base, as well as independent voters. This creates a genuine opportunity for us to turn Ricketts out of office in 2018. Usually, Democrats win the Governor’s mansion when a Republican incumbent is a failure. Jim Exon beat Nobert Tiemann in 1970, Bob Kerrey knocked off Charles Thone in 1982 and Ben Nelson took out Kay Orr in 1990. History could very well repeat itself in 2018. Let’s get it done! We can do it!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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