Paul Jacob

Governments, Thomas Jefferson wrote so eloquently in our Declaration of Independence, derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This founding idea serves as the most fundamental precept of American governance. Yet, today it is regularly exiled from our politics.

The latest case is now playing out in North Platte, Nebraska, where city officials seek to scuttle a citizen initiative that residents petitioned onto next Tuesday’s ballot. A Lincoln County district judge offers a powerful assist by ordering that the votes on the measure cannot even be counted or reported.

Michelle Malkin

Good heavens, they wouldn’t want the public will to somehow become, er, public. Such knowledge could complicate city policies that continue to flout it.

At issue is the Golden Spike Tower and Visitors Center, a place I might want to swing by for a visit if I ever find myself in North Platte, Nebraska.

The Golden Spike Tower in North Platte, Nebraska, rises 8 stories above Union Pacific’s 2,850-acre Bailey Yard, the world’s largest train yard. You’ll enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view from the enclosed 8th floor viewing area, while the sights and sounds of the railroad below can be enjoyed from the 7th floor open-air platform. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience for railroad lovers of all ages!

Or, considering the politics, maybe it’s an experience I can miss.

Construction of the visitors’ center was completed in 2008 with U.S. Department of Agriculture loans typically reserved for development of rural agricultural resources. In fact, the USDA is specifically prohibited from funding economic development projects through this loan program. Furthermore, the city was too populated to be considered “rural” by USDA standards.

To get around that law, the USDA allowed the city to set up an independent non-profit corporation to manage the project, with the city agreeing to hand over the dough to make the loan payments using a newly created hotel occupation tax.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.