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ACTION: Tell Senators We'll Not be Bullied

UPDATE: Today’s hearings were far more respectful and cordial to testifiers. We appreciate Chairman Langmeier changing the ugly tone from last night to one that welcomed citizen input. We recommend sending him a thank you (402) 471-2719, clangemeier@leg.ne.gov

Sample Letter:

Senator Langemeier,

I cc’ed you this morning on an email I sent to Senator McCoy regarding his behavior last night during neutral testimony on your bill.

I want to THANK YOU for restoring this process to a hearing today and not an inquisition. Last night was an ugly moment in this very tense process, and I would hate for that to turn away citizens from participating.

We may disagree on the pipeline and what the legislature should do about it, but I appreciate the leadership you showed today. I hope you continue to carefully weigh the testimony of both sides on this critical issue.

***

Last night during the final neutral testimony in the Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Beau McCoy decided it was appropriate to follow TransCanada’s lead and bully citizens. It is one thing to be bullied by a bad actor like TransCanada. It is unacceptable when elected officials create a hostile environment for the public.

We’re encouraging folks to contact at least 3 people:

  • Senator McCoy to tell him that his attitude will not be tolerated by Nebraskans. It’s an embarassment to see an elected official treating our citizens with disrespect and hostility (402) 471-2885bmccoy@leg.ne.gov
  • Chairman Langemeier who could (and should) have stepped in to tell Senator McCoy that his actions were inappropriate (402) 471-2719, clangemeier@leg.ne.gov
  • Speaker Flood who sets the tone for the entire body and clearly needs to demand better from his colleagues who elected him to lead them (402) 471-2929, mflood@leg.ne.gov

If you can, please also thank Senator Ken Haar who did his best to remediate the tone of the room and make citizens feel more comfortable (402) 471-2673

Below are example letters that citizens sent last night:

Letter 1:

Dear Senators,

After watching segments of the pipeline hearings the past several days, I have become increasingly concerned about the manner in which our citizens are being received when they testify. Specifically, it is appearing that SOME of the committee members are fixated on why testifiers are testifying. The questioning by committee members appear to indicate that if someone is an “environmentalist” or has any communication or connection or even consulted with an environmental group, it voids, discredits, and nullifies their testimony – judging them as irrelevent and “prejudiced.” What the heck?!?! I was embarrassed by this line of thinking -or at least that seemed to be radiating through your pointed and beleagured questioning (by some of you). I am surprised some of them didn’t start crying or simply walk away from trying to testify. Being interested in or caring about the environment does NOT make one an “extremist” –  we are in terrible shape as a legislative body or state if any inquiry or association in any way with a group studying and aware of the environment is “dropped from credibility.” PLEASE DON’T LET THIS BE SO !!

Think about it. It’s as though the corporate element are the only ones who are judged by some of you to be legitimate and experts. My goodness and of course, this is what that segment has been trying to get you to think from day one. Please recognize this and think about it — You are dealing with highly trained politicians themselves – trained to guide your minds and wills. Think about the pipeline lobbyists so far and their history of gang-banging anyone or anything that even slightly hints at disagreeing with corporate profits at the expense of environment. PLEASE REFRESH YOURSELVES AND GET BACK ON TRACK.

Perhaps I am over-reacting, but some of you appear so apparent at projecting this attitude. On the other hand, if this is how you feel, then show it even more so that it is so obvious that the public cannot help but see it and will know your true colors.

I want to believe that you are not listening to testimony based on any prejudices you might have been swayed with that disregards the “point” and the importance of safe-guarding Nebraska lands and waters — That’s why you are on the Natural Resource Committee (I hope). If you disregard testimony or disbelieve intent because someone cares about the environment and/or has any association with groups interested in guarding natural resources as well, then that makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.

P.S. In addition, Trans-Canadians recently in the hearings have now started portraying themselves as the victims and saying that Nebraskans are either changing or not playing by the rules by trying to legally have some say in what they do. Think about it – it is just the opposite. They have bullied and made Nebraskans the victims and they are the ones who made up and did not play by the rules and they don’t like that the rules THEY “want” might not continue. 

Letter 2:

Senator McCoy,

I am embarrassed by your treatment at tonight’s special session hearing for LB4 of the final two testifiers, Cindy Myers and Robert Bernt, not only because you made these Nebraska citizens feel unwelcome before the committee, but also because such rhetorical distractions do a disservice to the democratic process and the seriousness of the special session hearings.  Nebraska citizens have the right to testify in any capacity they see fit in their own state legislature.

Cindy Myers is a friend and neighbor of mine in Holt County and is a strong advocate of our state’s drinking water and our rights as citizens to protect that water for future generations.  As a registered nurse, she deals every day with those who suffer from health problems, and her compassion and care for humanity is an example for all of us.  You should know that your questioning of her made her feel very uncomfortable and upset, as if she did not have the right to testify.

Robert Bernt is a hard-working Sandhills rancher and friend of mine who has gone through the struggles of developing his own line of organic, grass-fed dairy products and built a successful business.  His commitment to chemical-free food production and rangeland utilization is a testament to the fact that conscientious farmers and ranchers can creatively conserve and utilize our state’s natural resources.  As a member of the Natural Resources Committee, concerned with the usage of our state’s land and water, you would do well to pay attention to his words as well as his actions.

Your words and actions tonight, however, were sorely disappointing, and I believe you owe these two Nebraskans an apology.

I only wish you, your colleagues on the Natural Resources committee and in the body of the legislature displayed Cindy and Robert’s level of concern for Nebraska citizens and our rights.

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