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Nebraskans should be concerned about shifting the oversight of History Nebraska


Nebraskans should be concerned about shifting the oversight of History Nebraska

Feb 28, 2024 | 4:00 am ET
By John E. Bush
Nebraskans should be concerned about shifting the oversight of History Nebraska
The Nebraska State Capitol Building in Lincoln. (Rebecca S. Gratz for Nebraska Examiner)

Nebraskans should be concerned about Legislative Bill 1169.  As written recently by the president of the History Nebraska Board of Trustees, this is a bill intended to “…make History Nebraska a code agency of the State of Nebraska with an Executive Director appointed directly by the Governor. LB 1169 transfers critical responsibilities of the Board of Trustees and reassigns these to the appointed director.”

Read that again, carefully.

Rather than coming to this matter with a political bent, I write today as a member of History Nebraska, also as a major in American history at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (though I didn’t graduate because of the Vietnam War), as a former three-term leader of the Omaha chapter of “Westerners International,” as a four-term director of the Union Pacific Historical Society, as a published author of works relating to Union Pacific history and now as a member of the board of directors of the Union Pacific Museum Association.  I am simply a history nut.

State Sen. Steve Erdman, who introduced the bill, states that the former adjutant general of the Nebraska National Guard has testified that Nebraska history is not being property retained, or words to that effect.

Please don’t permit that assertion to influence your thinking.  It is important to know that the very same could be said of every single historical institution which has ever been or is now in existence.  Every single one.  There has never been nor is there today a single such institution which can gather, let alone retain, all of the “history” presented or available to it. Thus, there is always the possibility for allegations that history is not being retained, etc.

Is increasing the authority and influence of the governor and diluting the responsibility of trustees elected by entity membership going to make for better retention of the history of Nebraska?

At present, the state has a sizable presence on the board of trustees.  Those people are going to bring state government issues before the board, so any such will be addressed by the board just as they’ve been for many decades.

I can’t see how an appointed executive director armed with authority removed from the board is going to be an improvement.

Will LB 1169 reduce your taxes?

And why would this seemingly minor matter be given priority status when so many other major issues are under consideration?