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DHHS audit report debacle leaves Gov. Heineman seeing red PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Friday, 23 September 2011 20:21

Capitol View

By Ed Howard


There is something of a story within a story when it comes to the story about the state doing a lousy job implementing change in the child welfare system.

It was mentioned in passing when details of an audit of the Department of Health and Human Services were recently reported. The audit showed department ineptitude had cost the state millions and millions and millions of dollars.

Gov. Dave Heineman growled at State Auditor Mike Foley, saying Foley could have been more helpful if he had discussed the audit with the administration before releasing it to the press.

Now, imagine the look on Heineman’s face when Foley shot back that he had provided the thing to Heineman’s director of HHS some six weeks earlier.

Now, imagine the look on the face of department CEO Kerry Winterer when Heineman, or someone, asked for an explanation.

Guess whose face turned purple. Guess whose face turned pale.

The situation has some political entertainment value in it, if you’re the sort who follows this sort of thing.

When Heineman was a top state GOP operative he was known as a hard hitter. His criticism of Democrats was usually as subtle as a brick going through a plate glass window.

Those who remember the governor, back in his “civilian” days, should have no trouble imaging how he would handle things if the current governor were a Democrat.

Heineman would almost certainly have called for an investigation by the attorney general.

And, depending on his mood, he might have said lawmakers should consider impeachment.

Political aces like Heineman know there are no rules of evidence in the court of public opinion.

Nebraska’s earnest but weakly Democratic Party hasn’t had anyone who could carry off an old fashioned political vaudeville show — Heineman style — since the passing of the late Jim Exon.


At Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, Gov. Heineman declared September to be Renewable Fuels Month in Nebraska.

Heineman might be more popular among environmental interests, at least for now, than President Barack Obama.

The governor opposes the proposed path of the TransCanada XL pipeline, which would transport tar sand oil through a portion of the Sandhills, and over the Ogallala Aquifer.

Heineman doesn’t have anything against the pipeline per se, but he recently joined the call to reroute the thing.

The odds favor Obama’s approval of the pipeline. His secretary of energy virtually endorsed the thing not long ago.

Opponents of the pipeline say it shouldn’t be built, period, because it represents environmental threats of all sorts.

Proponents say it is safe, will contribute to America’s energy independence efforts and will create thousands of jobs, jobs, jobs.

Jobs — a very important and popular word these days.



ED HOWARD is the statehouse correspondent for the Nebraska Press Association.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 September 2011 20:22