As we previously noted, On February 10, 2010, the Lincoln Journal Star published a Local View Column by Norlyn Raisch entitled “Laws and Sausages“. Norlyn’s article is a well written and accurate description of the hearings held on February 7 by the Legislature’s Business and Labor Committee for nine pieces of legislation associated with collective bargaining and the Commission of Industrial Relations (CIR). I can attest to the accuracy as a first hand observer, having been present for the majority of the day. In addition to the fact that Norlyn’s column was accurate, it was also respectful, if critical, of the decisions and conduct by Committee Chair Steve Lathrop.
There were two direct responses to the column and another purporting to straighten out “misrepresentations” made by proponents of CIR reform published in the days since Norlyn’s column appeared. All three are just more examples of the various groups and people who have biases and vested interests in opposing any reform to Nebraska’s collective bargaining statutes.
In the Sunday, February, 20, 2011, Lincoln Journal Star, a Local View column, “CIR reform advocates misrepresent facts”, written by Gene Hanlon, dominated the space above the fold. It contained three “MISREPRESENTATIONS”, each followed by what he calls corresponding “FACTS”. Mr. Hanlon’s presentation of “FACTS” can quite easily be shown for what it is — a very crafty job of selecting information that supports his case while ignoring the wealth of information that contradicts his position. But refuting Mr. Hanlon’s contentions is not the purpose of this article. (An examination of the information Linda and I put together for our Feb. 7 hearing presentation reveals actual facts, which are statistics reported by government entities in the State.) Gene Hanlon represents the board members of the Lincoln City Employee Association. As Mr. Hanlon noted when he testified in opposition to CIR reform at the February 7 hearings at the State Capitol, the Lincoln City Employee Association is the largest city union.
On February 17, the Journal Star published both direct responses to Norlyn’s “Laws and Sausages”. Like Gene Hanlon’s column, both Feb. 17 responses are full of as many holes as a piece of Swiss cheese in their assertions. Once again, the purpose here is to shine a light on the biases of those opposing reform to Nebraska’s collective bargaining statutes.
The first response was from President Kim Quick of Teamsters Local #554, the second from former Nebraska State Senator DiAnna Schimek. Schimek is a former teacher, and her husband, Herb Schimek, was, according to his former employer, the Nebraska State Education Association, a “legendary lobbyist”, “teacher, education advocate”. Mr. Schimek began working for the NSEA (the teachers’ union), in 1971, and at retirement in 2009, was officially the head of Governmental Relations (head lobbyist) for the organization. (See the NSEA’s “CIR” page.)
While a Teamsters Local President’s bias may not be immediately evident to everyone since it is a private sector union, when examining history, it’s difficult to avoid the truth; unions stick together.
Anyone watching events unfold in Wisconsin in the past week and now replicating themselves in Ohio and Indiana need no explanation regarding the biases of a former teacher and wife of a state teachers’ union lobbyist when it comes to reforming collective bargaining. Her status as a former State Senator is an additional reason for skepticism when considering her opinion on the subject of public hearings as perceived by a Nebraska taxpayer. After twenty years of experiencing these hearings, what might her perspective be?
In the interest of full disclosure, it’s important to note my own potential biases in a situation, or of those known to me about the people with whom I associate. I must openly state I am no fan of the former Senator Schimek. As a homeschooling mother there is no way that I could be. In 2008, she introduced a bill that the Homeschool Legal Defense Association aptly described as a “return to the dark ages”. In addition to her efforts to violate the sanctity of my family home, to undermine and commandeer the decisions of my husband and myself regarding our childrens’ education, I found her arrogance in doing it offensive. Fortunately, the Nebraska Christian Home Educators Association, HSLDA, and 1300 homeschoolers sent the loudest message in Nebraska legislative hearing history to the Senator and the bill died, as it deserved to.
Beyond my own observations about the former Senator Schimek as pertains to her efforts to sledge hammer Nebraska homeschoolers, I find her response to Norlyn’s “Laws and Sausages” positively absurd. She actually called his column a “personal attack”. I am beyond tired of elitism and arrogance from politicians.
And on the final note of disclosure, it is a fact that Norlyn is a member of GiN. I’m not sure what bias that might entail, other than his desire to see a restoration of limited government. He went to the Capitol to observe legislative hearings for the first time on an issue he believes to be important. He was, quite rightly, taken aback by what he observed, both in terms of the hearings themselves, how many pieces of legislation were scheduled for a single session, and with the minimal notice allowed by Nebraska law. As a Nebraskan and American, Norlyn, and all of us, have every right and some would say, a duty to question our elected officials. Attempts to silence criticism by labeling them “attacks” are not only wrong, they are evidence, it could be argued, that someone knows they do neither have right on their side, nor the ability to make their case.