Now That the Innocent Are Freed, What Next?

By: Mr. Wilson on November 11, 2008
The last of the six persons wrongfully convicted in the 1985 Helen Wilson murder has been freed. Now what? I'm certain we will hear from the six soon enough in the form of lawsuits against the State. After all, Attorney General Jon Bruning and others have stated quite clearly that this miscarriage of justice was no simple accident. Rather, government agents bullied and lied in order to gain convictions. Shame on them. Six people paid for their sins with their freedom, while you and I will no doubt pay out of our pockets. But there's an even larger issue here. There is no way this is the only case of wrongful conviction in Nebraska. And I'm not just talking about cases in which reasonable people may have come to an incorrect -- but defensible -- conclusion. No, it's a near certainty that there are people sitting in jail right now who not only did not commit the crimes for which they were convicted, but who were convicted thanks to misconduct on the part of their accusers. The question we have to ask ourselves is: What are we going to do about it? I'm not intimating that the problem is widespread in Nebraska. I only suspect the number of such cases is greater than zero; beyond that, I couldn't begin to guess. (We are nowhere near the standards of Texas justice, for example.) Yet one failure of justice is one too many, especially if the State is in a position to do anything about it. I would be tickled to see Nebraska initiate a program to more actively pursue and remedy wrongful convictions (not to mention preventing them in the first place). And to head off the straw man arguments, no, that doesn't mean giving everybody a new trial or permitting unlimited appeals. How should Nebraska apologize to the six wrongfully convicted persons in the Helen Wilson case? What steps can we take to prevent future wrongful convictions and to remedy the mistakes already made?

Three Score

By: Mr. Wilson on November 11, 2008
Grandpa and Robbie My dad is 60 years young today. I can hardly believe it. It wasn't all that long ago that age 60 was firmly in the "old" category in my mind. But these days, watching my dad ref soccer and play with his grandkids, 60 just doesn't seem as old as it used to. If you happen to know my dad, be sure to wish him a happy birthday today.

Uni Place News

By: Mr. Wilson on November 10, 2008
Heartland Pantry storefront University Place residents are celebrating the November 18 opening of Heartland Pantry, Hy-Vee's new small-store concept that replaces the former Hy-Vee at 48th and Leighton. It's a fun story: The store the neighborhood had come to rely on packed its bags and headed a few miles down the road. Nearby residents fear for their neighborhood, so they rally the troops and engage in a campaign to save their strip mall. Regional corporation hears their cries and decides to use the location as the first location for a brand new store concept. It's the stuff of Disney, I tell ya. In other Uni Place news, I noticed that El Chaparro is now located just south of 48th and Leighton. I assume that's the same El Chaparro as the hole-in-the-wall at 13th and F. How long has it been there? I've driven up and down 48th Street several times this fall, but Saturday was the first time I really paid attention to the sign. That building has held so many restaurants over the past few years that I can never keep track of what's in there.

Those Darn Activist Judges

By: Mr. Wilson on November 7, 2008
Now that Nebraskans have outlawed affirmative action programs, lots of changes will need to be made to programs throughout the state. Maybe. There's still a chance that a lawsuit questioning the validity of some petition signatures. If those signatures are declared invalid, it will be like the vote never happened. Except the vote did happen. Nebraskans want AA dead, that much is certain. If the vote is wiped out, Nebraskans won't be happy. The petition process should free be from shenanigans. The lawsuit should go forward and any law-breakers should be punished. If necessary, there should be a new vote. But if Tuesday's vote is wiped out, it will only delay the inevitable. In the process, it'll hork off a sizeable chunk of the state and we'll just have to go through this all over again. I can't imagine a second vote will come out any closer.

Not a Fan

By: Mr. Wilson on November 7, 2008
As a state Senator, I was a bit of an admirer of Ernie Chambers. I can't say I'm a fan of his current role as litigant and appellant. I can't wait to see what trouble Mr. Chambers stirs up once he is officially out of office.

Middle of the Road

By: Mr. Wilson on November 7, 2008
I've made three trips to Omaha in the past three days. Why do drivers insist on camping in the center lane on the 3-lane portions of I-80?

Money Well Spent?

By: Mr. Wilson on November 5, 2008
State Auditor Mike Foley has turned into a bit of a folk hero of late. Now there's talk he may get involved in Lincoln's Antelope Valley Project, either by invitation or on his own volition. I can't help but think his input would be welcomed by a substantial number of Lincolnites. If he were to conduct an audit, and if he were to issue a mostly positive report, it might give the City a small boost going into next year's arena vote. But if he were to issue a negative report ... Well, I suspect we'd hear a few discouraging words from a whole host of folks.

Will Nebraska See Red if District 2 Votes Blue?

By: Mr. Wilson on November 5, 2008
There's a reasonable chance that Barack Obama won Nebraska's District 2 (Omaha), meaning that for the first time in history, Nebraska's electoral vote could be split. Sure, one electoral vote isn't much, but it's still a big deal. It is a big deal because Nebraska gained attention from the two major party candidates during the election. And it's a big deal because Republican state politicians may soon take steps to ensure it never happens again. I have never liked the all-or-nothing approach to electoral vote distribution. Those who like the system used by most states tend to be those who benefit most from it -- Republicans in Nebraska, for example, and Democrats in California. But on what grounds? Surely not on fairness or justice grounds. The current system is far from the principle of "one man, one vote". Perhaps on the grounds that "to the winner go the spoils". But the winner of what? The definition of the parameters of the contest -- and thus, the definition of "winner" -- is an arbitrary act. If we aren't going to abide by "one man, one vote", we ought to at least prefer rules that keep us close to that principle. How do you like Nebraska's (and Maine's) system? Is it fair? Right? Should we keep it? Or perhaps we ought to scrap the Electoral College altogether?

Liveblogging the Election

By: Mr. Wilson on November 4, 2008
Thanks to an invitation from Lincolnite regular Nikkidemas, I will be participating in 10/11's liveblogging of the election tonight. You can participate in the liveblogging event by going to, or you can participate right here on Lincolnite. You will be able to ask questions and provide feedback throughout the event, which begins at 8:00pm.

Make Your Case

By: Mr. Wilson on November 3, 2008
In case you haven't heard, there's an election tomorrow. Yeah, I was surprised to hear that, too. This is just about your last chance to make your case for your favorite candidates or issues. So have at it. Tell us why we should vote for your guy or gal. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm genuinely curious to see what you have to say.

More Bad News for Gateway on the Way?

By: Mr. Wilson on November 2, 2008
Could tomorrow bring more bad news to Gateway, the corridors of which are starting to look a tad empty? Rumors are circulating that the locations of 155 soon-to-be-shuttered Circuit City stores will be released on Monday. I don't have any specific information suggesting Lincoln's lone CC is on that list. Lincoln's Circuit City could be the company's most profitable for all I know. But Gateway's momentum has been decidedly negative lately. If bad news travels in packs, the outlook for Lincoln's CC doesn't look good. UPDATE: Unbelievably, Lincoln's store is not on the list. Thanks to Jeff R for the link.
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