Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Maxwell for County Board: Washing Away the Mud

My opponent has tried to bury me in an avalanche of mud. Let's pull out the fire hose, blast away the mud, and reveal the facts.

TAXES: One hit piece shows a roller coaster and says I want to take you for a ride and make you pay higher taxes.

The truth is, I’d like to shift more of your tax burden to sales tax, but only if the property tax is abolished. My opponent forgot to mention that part.

Every year I served in the state legislature was a brutal budget crisis, and the pressure was intense to raise taxes. I said no, we should instead use the opportunity to overhaul state spending, especially the nonsensical way we fund K-12 education. Since I joined the county board in 2005, the county’s property tax rate has gone down 8.6%.

I’m a tenacious defender of the taxpayer. Any change I advocate will benefit the taxpayer. I’ve proven that in my 8 years in public office, and you can count on me to keep looking out for the taxpayer.

MERGER: Another hit piece says I’m for “forced” merger of Omaha and Douglas County into one municipal county to create bigger and more expensive government.

First of all, there’s no such thing as “forced” city-county merger. A commission would be formed, there would be public hearings and opportunities for revision, and finally a vote of the people. There are many ways to put together a merger package that makes sense for the taxpaying public. Other places around the country have done it, and so can we.

If my opponent wants to make an issue of merger, that’s fine with me. Government insiders and special interests hate merger. The taxpaying public loves merger. The one time the concept of merger was on the ballot, there was overwhelming support from every corner of Douglas County. Ninety percent of Douglas County residents also live in Omaha. The public understands that we don’t need two houses of local government to manage local services.

WITHERSPOON MANSION: Another hit piece accused me of giving “property tax breaks to political appointees and multi-millionaires.”

The Witherspoon property was valued at $1.6 million. The county assessor tried to raise the valuation to $2.6 million. The owner challenged it all the way through the protest system and won a ruling from the state supreme court in his favor.

The next year, the assessor again tried to raise the valuation to $2.6 million. The county board said no, that’s not fair to the taxpayer. In a system that favors the government every step of the way, the taxpayer played by the rules and won. I don’t care if he’s a millionaire or a fry cook at a diner. To turn right around and jack up his valuation denies the taxpayer his victory. And it keeps happening year after year even though there have been no transactions or improvements to the property.

My opponent calls this giving a break to a millionaire. I call it justice for a taxpayer who won his case against the government fair and square.

TAX COMMISSIONER: A homeowner who happens to be the state tax commissioner challenged his valuation. The county acknowledged that it incorrectly measured his property and overstated the square footage. The county promised to remeasure the property and negotiate a settlement based on the proper measurements.

After agreeing to a settlement, the taxpayer discovered that the county had not remeasured the property, so the settlement was not based on corrected measurements. The county’s reply: Sorry, sucker, you signed the settlement agreement so you’re out of luck. The county board thought the taxpayer deserved better, but provisions of state law prevented the board from granting relief to the taxpayer.

Yes, I did want to help the taxpayer. Again, I don’t care about his income or stature. Government should not be allowed to treat taxpayers that way. My opponent calls the effort to help the taxpayer a special deal for a big shot. I call it justice for a mistreated taxpayer.

CLIFFHANGER: A $350,000 home was built on the edge of a cliff in Ponca Hills. Part of the cliff collapsed. The foundation of the home cracked and there was doubt about whether it was habitable. The team of real estate experts hired by the county board to review property valuation cases determined that the property was virtually worthless and reduced the valuation to $100.

A buyer came along who believes the cliff can be restored and the home can be repaired or rebuilt. The buyer paid $251,000 for the property.

That’s great. I hope it works out. But my opponent presented this as Chip Maxwell orchestrating a sweetheart deal where the owner got his valuation knocked down to basically a tax-free level, then got to sell it for $251,000. As you can see, that’s not true.

NO BACKROOM DEALS: In all these property tax cases, contrary to the impression given by my opponent, it was not me unilaterally granting tax favors. These cases were handled by the entire board in the course of regular business at public meetings.

MEETING ATTENDANCE: My opponent said his attendance was near perfect when he was on the Omaha City Council. Then he chided me for not attending meetings of the county hospital board.

Did you catch the misdirection, the comparison of apples to oranges? He's not talking about my attendance at county board meetings. He's talking about county hospital board meetings.

I have attended meetings (2 or 3) of the hospital board when they have been incorporated into our regular Tuesday meetings, but I do not go to the hospital for its board meetings.

The hospital is one of many agencies and departments of county government. I could be going to meetings nonstop. I see the commissioner as someone surveying the overall picture and not trying to micromanage agencies/departments.

On specifics, we divide and conquer. We have committees focused on particular agencies/departments. For instance, we have a commissioner who monitors health and human services matters, including the hospital, and we get regular reports from the hospital and other agencies/departments. If something needs special attention, the rest of the board will be alerted to it.

My attendance at county board meetings is, like my opponent's on the city council, nearly perfect.

CIVILITY: The absolute topper is my opponent’s claim that he is the champion of civility in government, while Chip Maxwell “often resorts to name-calling when he disagrees with someone.” If you check with my colleagues and others familiar with my record of public service, I think they will tell you that I take strong positions on issues, but always with a live-and-let-live spirit.

This is my third campaign for public office and every campaign message I have ever put out has been positive. This message has a sharper edge to it, but that’s because I’m now learning why my opponent was one of the most divisive members of the Omaha City Council, and why he was voted out by his constituents. I’m not going to let anyone negatively spin my record the way my opponent is attempting to do.


OmaSteak said...

Kraft is playing hardball and it shouldn't have come as a surprise. Beside Frank Brown, he was the most divisive member of the city council until he was voted out of office. If you look at who is funding his campaign...a major constuction company and several construction-dependent unions, it's obvious why he got interested in the county board. His backers want a "sure thing" vote and special insight into upcoming county construction contracts and projects. This is typical Kraft mode of operation as any review of his time on the city council will show...he delivers for his donors no matter if it's good or bad for taxpayers. He's a lifelong supporter of bigger, more complicated, intrusive and expensive government. One can hope that voters in that county commission district can see he'll do nothing for them and will likely do even more to them by way of raising property tax rates to benefit his campaign donors. The Douglas County Board doesn't need another Mike Boyle...one is more than plenty.

Anonymous said...

Never call me again. You do NOT have permission to robocall me, you ... you .. jerk. The best way to get me to vote someone else is leave me robocalls like that. Go frak yourself.

Chip Maxwell said...


O brave one, I can't take you off the list if you won't identify yourself.

I'm going to guess that you're a Democrat who expects Republicans to stoically absorb such cheap shots and roll over and lose without making a fuss. Have you nothing to say about the substance of this debate?

Someone accuses me of, among other things, arranging special deals for fat cats. There is no time for me to respond by mail, so I turn to the telephone. You're all bent out of shape by that, but you don't seem to have a problem with the smear tactics that prompted the robocall.

I do apologize for upsetting you. I'm no fan of those calls myself. That wasn't in my plan until the mud suddenly piled up with no time to adequately reply.

Can I count on you to help me leaflet tomorrow so I don't have to make another robocall?


Ryan the Angry Midget said...


Robocalls? I don't care who makes them (one of the reasons I don't have a landline), the bottom line is that they have been shown to be completely ineffective. I'm sure whoever you paid to program their robot to call people for you wants you to believe you're having an impact, but I expected more from someone as smart and politically savy as I believe you are.

You should post something about how you came to terms with John McCain being pro stem cell research. I know you have strong opinions on the issue, and I am a little surprised you haven't mentioned that McCain supports federal funding for embryonic stem cell lines.

Chip Maxwell said...


I have commented in this blog about McCain on stem cells. One of several reasons he wasn't my choice, but where am I going to go? To the guy who lets live babies cry themselves to death in the closet? Says his first priority is to sign the Freedom of Choice Act? Says judges should do more to make public policy from the bench?

So now two lefties have complained about robocalls, but they haven't explained how I should have responded to the slime job done on me at the very end of the campaign. I could have used you guys to help leaflet.

Ryan the Angry Midget said...

Hi Chip,

You misunderstood my post. First of all, McCain isn't your only other option. There are at least two other candidates I know of who are running for President who are pro life and against stem cell research. I think it's selling out a little bit to be so against a candidate based on abortion, which a President is very unlikely to change (did your vote for Bush and his supreme court appointments make abortion illegal?) and ignore the fact that McCain won't veto stem cell research funding like Bush did.

I wasn't complaining about robocalls. I was just surprised that you chose that method, when a lot of quality research on voter behavior has suggested that robocalls are a huge waste of money in generating support. Do whatever you want with you money. You seem like a pretty bright guy, so I was just surprised that you chose robocalls. I much preferred your leaflets that a young boy left at my door.

I think your response, minus the robocalls, was quite adequate and helpful. Kraft is picking issues that he thinks will fire people up, but my prediction is that it won't work. You have good bipartisan support, which suprises me a little given how far to the right your views are. It helps that you seem to be a nice and decent person. Frankly, that's way more than I can say for most politicians. Good luck, although I think you'll be very happy with the outcome in your race.

Chip Maxwell said...


I thought you wanted to know how I could vote for McCain when he's not where I'd like him to be on stem cell research. I come from the position that all other rights are irrelevant unless you are alive. As for the presidency, Roberts & Alito. One more and the people -- either through their state legislatures, federal legislature, or the ballot process -- can make the call on abortion. By the way, my side might get splattered, but that's the way it goes in a free and democractic society based on majority rule.

I'm sorry I misinterpreted so much of your initial message. Glad some of my rebuttal made it to your door! Thank you for the good wishes. I hope you're right!