Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Daniel Thompson
Editor 

Domina hopes to bring 'clear voice' to Senate

 

Daniel Thompson

Dave Domina and his wife Carol discuss issues with Sheila Barrett-Kaczmarek at Java Blend.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Dave Domina wishes to bring attention to key issues he believes residents of Nebraska face that are currently being neglected in the United States Senate if elected in 2014.

Domina, who currently serves as a trial lawyer for his firm Domina Law Group pc llo, states that his primary motive for choosing to run in the 2014 election was a sense of obligation when considering the important issues that have fallen by the wayside in the Senate throughout the past year.

"It appeared to me as if nobody was really giving a voice to what I strongly believe is a core cause of most of our economic problems in the United States, and I could see that none of the candidates for the United States Senate who had declared were going to do that," Domina said.

To Domina, the core issue faced by U. S. citizens is the disappearing markets due to continuing consolidation.

"Our participants in those markets have continued to consolidate, get bigger and bigger, become fewer and fewer, drive more and more jobs out of existence with their consolidations and efficiencies and outsourcing, but nobody is talking about the problem about consolidation and merger as the cause of unemployment," Domina said.

He believes that the issue has not been properly addressed in discussion, and perhaps even avoided entirely in favor of focusing on other less important talking points.

"I think Nebraska has been dramatically hurt by that phenomena, and our state needs a strong clear voice to articulate that problem, get it into the national agenda, and get a real solution instead of bandaid things that sound good in sound bites but aren't source or root problems at all," Domina said.

This problem not only affects bigger cities around the state but also, and more noticeably, affects the small businesses in less populated areas such as Kimball County.

"They're threatened by things like this. Walmart became the nation's, and I think the world's, largest grocer in 14 years. I spent almost 30 years representing a cooperatively owned grocery warehouse that supplies independent grocery stores in counties all across Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas, into Colorado and Wyoming, and up into Minnesota across Iowa, affiliated foods in Norfolk. Their stores are under more and more pressure to survive in places like Kimball, because of the consolidation in the grocery industry," Domina said.

The affects of consolidation and mergers is also felt in the local agriculture industry.

"In Kimball County, anybody who wants to own cattle is victimized by the fact that there are only three slaughter houses that slaughter 85 percent of the cattle. There is no cash market for cattle anymore. There is no swine business that is meaningful except in very large hands. 75 percent of all hogs are slaughtered by three companies," Domina said.

Domina believes that until there is a candidate who will serve a strong voice in the Senate to bring more attention to the issue, no solution to the problem will be found.

"Always, identification of the problem is the first step toward a cure. You can't cure an illness without getting a proper diagnosis. I think my diagnosis is correct. I read economic literature. In the last ten years, I've co-authored pretty significant pieces of technical economic literature on this subject with an Auburn University professor. I am absolutely and categorically sure that everybody who thinks about the market knows it's shrinking," Domina said.

When considering the issue he believes needs to be addressed along with research on the topic, Domina has come to his own conclusion to solve the current problem.

"I would propose that we eliminate every single solitary tax incentive in the Internal Revenue Code that encourages business to export jobs. I would stop the idea of permitting foreign goods that are built in a non-competitive market to come back here and cut prices. We could do that with tariffs. And I would propose that we reinvigorate the antitrust laws and stop merger mania," Domina said.

Domina also strongly opposes the Keystone XL pipeline citing that the TransCanada Corporation, which owns the proposed pipeline, has not been completely honest when discussing the different aspects of the pipeline.

"I represent many, maybe as many as 25 percent, of the land owners whose land is on the most recent route proposed. Those land owners know they have been treated unfairly by the TransCanada company. Inside Nebraska, this isn't just about a pipeline. It's about the applicant who wants the pipeline," Domina said.

Domina, particularly takes issue with two basic areas in which he feels TransCanada has not been completely honest with the public.

"Number one, why won't it put this pipeline through its existing route? It has a route and a pipeline across the state, got it with no problem. It refuses to put this one in the same route, and it refuses to say why. My antennae are up. Number two, it has told farmers and ranchers, predominately farmers, time after time, 'This is our last and final offer. If you don't take it, we'll take you to court.' That's how it's got people signed up. The initial offers with that threat were nominal, and now, they're reaching six figure amounts to pass a quarter section. They have not been truthful. They have, frankly, cheated people on those easements," Domina said.

Domina also expresses great concern for what will fall on the shoulders of landowners once the pipeline has been used up.

"TransCanada says that it will cost $5.3 billion to build this pipeline. When this pipeline is used up, the easement they're going to take from Nebraska farmers with eminent domain says the pipeline will be left in the ground, just like an underground storage tank that runs the entire length of your farm. You worry about it. Why would any Nebraska citizen support foreign corporation that's going to do that to our land and our people?" Domina said.

Domina is also critical of the potential safety risks that would come with the pipeline, especially what he considers to be a high likelihood of a potential spill.

"It will carry 860,000 barrels of oil a day under the highest pressure that any substance is pumped through a pipeline, at the highest temperature any substance is pushed through any pipeline anywhere in the world, because it's tar sands oil and is extremely viscous or thick. It's very hard to push. It poses the highest risk of pipeline rupture because of those combinations: heat and pressure and massive volume," Domina said.

Though TransCanada CEO Russ Girling has called the pipeline "the safest oil pipeline built in America to date", Domina states that there have been multiple spills in TransCanda owned pipelines throughout the past several years, making Girling's claims questionable.

"Every one of the TransCanada pipelines that exists has had significant spill problems. South Dakota, the existing pipeline that comes into Nebraska, a series of significant spills in 2012 and 2013. North Dakota, a significant spill with eight or nine acre destruction around it. The cleanup cost is so much money that if it leeches onto the land of the famed and the farmer has to be that burden, which is a very significant risk under the terms of the easement," Domina said.

According to Domina, the cost of a cleanup resting squarely on the shoulders of farmers whose land it occurs on could lead to financial despair for the farmer and their family.

"The cost of the cleanup will wipe out any farmer's net worth unless he is a $100 million or larger net worth person, in my opinion. Because the volume of that fluid that's going to come out in that leak is so dramatic under these pressures that the cleanup cost is massive," Domina said.

Another major concern is that there is still not an effective method for cleaning up the tar sands oil that the pipeline would carry should a spill occur.

"There is no approved or identified methodology for removing tar sands oil from water or from soil. None disclosed to the state department. None used any place where there has been a spill. And none identified by the TransCanada company," Domina said.

Domina also finds it alarming that it is not clear what substances will be carried within the pipeline, specifically in the oil itself.

"The TransCanada company refuses to disclose the materials in the oil. The Material Safety Data Sheet that has been revealed is dated in 2008, I believe, and does not disclose the substances that will be used to try to keep the solid parts of this substance in suspension inside the pipe. First responders won't even know necessarily what they're dealing with," Domina said.

Domina grew up on an alfalfa and livestock farm in Coleridge, Nebraska, a detail which widely informs his actions in considering the impacts of solutions to present issues.

"I see Nebraska's population in its rural areas, including where I grew up. I grew up on the South Dakota border straight south of Yankton in northeast Nebraska, pretty much diagonally across the state from Kimball. I see the rural population there like here precisely the same way: under ongoing and counting aging pressures, opportunity pressures, consolidation pressures. All driven by lack of market opportunity in the absence of competition," Domina said.

He wishes to keep a watchful eye on agriculture and giving assistance to farmers and ranchers wherever it is possible.

"Farming and ranching is what this state is about. In a hundred years from now, agriculture is going to be the core of Nebraska's existence. We should be protecting our natural resource, our primary natural resource which is water with the same zeal that South Africa protects its diamonds," Domina said.

Domina would also like to help give farmers more options to choose from in the market.

"The big economy of the nation is felt in the rural areas dramatically, because farmers and ranchers don't have markets from which to choose. Corn has had a temporary break from that from ethanol. Ethanol created a big new market, and what happened? In that big new market, corn went up significantly, and farmers had some good years if they were raising corn," Domina said.

However, this new market and its benefits are currently being threatened by a new rule proposed by the current administration, according to Domina.

"Now, what's happening today is that the government, the Democratic administration, is proposing in a rule that is in its comment period, to reduce the maximum amount of ethanol in blend to seven percent from ten percent. That's one billion bushel of corn that will come out of the ethanol industry," Domina said.

It is because of these issues that Domina believes that the people deserve a strong voice in the Senate to see to it that the people of Nebraska are properly and effectively represented.

"Every Nebraskan who has paid attention to the political life of the nation can think of somebody in each political party who stands out in the last 50 years as a senator who wasn't partisan. Who was better prepared, more thoughtful, more intense, but able to accommodate points of view and make a difference. Nebraska needs that United States Senator sent to Washington if we're going to contribute to the vibrant life of this country and bring back opportunity to our people," Domina said.

When asked what sets himself apart from the other candidates, Domina states that it is his drive to not simply be an average senator but rather to strive to make a significant difference for the betterment of the Nebraska population.

"If I thought, at this stage in my life under the circumstances of my life, that going to the United States Senate for me meant that I would be resigned to be an average U.S. Senator, I'm not interested," Domina said. "If I get elected, I'm going to use the position that belongs to the people of this state to make a difference. People are going to know that we've got a United States Senator who has a clear voice, has strong thoughts, is not afraid to express them, and is not going to be committed to an ideology because of a relationship to a political party."

 

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