Heath Mello’s latest TV ad focusing on the streetcar issue is riddled with untruths and misrepresentations much like Blanche Dubois, a lead character in Tennessee Williams’ famous play A Streetcar Named Desire, who lies repeatedly about all sorts of personal matters.
“Looks like the Mello ad makers watched the movie and got their inspiration from Blanche,” Mayor Stothert said. “Their ad should be titled ‘A Streetcar Named Distortion’ since it is untrue and really embarrasses my opponent.”
First, the ad claims that Stothert has expended significant city funds on the streetcar, saying “. . . behind closed doors, Stothert has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on it.”
FACT: No city taxpayer dollars have been spent on the streetcar. The preliminary planning and studies were funded by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Metro Transit, Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, Omaha Public Power District and Mutual of Omaha.
Further, the ad’s source citation of three Omaha World-Herald articles does not support the claim. One article addresses the issue of downtown parking while a second covers the hiring of a deputy chief of staff for development in the mayor’s office. The third article discusses the streetcar issue but does not state that city taxpayers have paid for it.
“I will let the voters decide this issue. I challenge Mr. Mello to stop waffling and say very directly whether he agrees with me that the streetcar should be put to a vote of the people,” Stothert said.
Second, the ad refers to “Mayor Stothert’s $30 million streetcar plan,” a flat-out lie since the mayor has not offered any such proposal. She did commit to moving forward with studies on the project, and to putting a yet-to-be determined financial proposal on a future ballot.
Third, Mello states in the commercial that he will “pause” the streetcar project while neglecting to mention that he has been a strong supporter of it in the past.
“As I said Monday, Mr. Mello is trying to run away from his record and I will not permit him to do that. First, he supported the streetcar, then he wanted to push the ‘pause’ button and now he wants to ‘slam on the brakes’. I just wonder what his position will be next week,” Stothert said.