OMAHA, NE – Two of Omaha elected officials, Lee Terry and Jean Stothert continue to show their lack of integrity, much to the ire of Omaha voters who are too well informed to vote for them.  Why do these politicians get re-elected time after time when they do not represent the people they are supposed to represent?

Jean Stothert claims to be the Mayor for everyone in Omaha, yet allows racial comments on her FaceBook page.  Shame-shame! Look at the racial comments our Mayor allows on her FaceBook page. And she’s supposed to be everybody’s Mayor? But if you disagree with her, she’ll remove your comments and ban you from posting. This elected official needs to learn how to handle dissent.It has also been revealed that the Mayor’s office has begun investigating the city’s longtime fire chief, now that a deal has fallen through under which he would have retired. Neither Stothert nor McDonnell will share details of the proposed deal. Speaking of Unions, why are people are opposed to unions marching in parades on Labor Day celebrating unions instead of working? March with Mayor Stothert parade event. See snapshot of racial comment below.

Racial Comment on Jean Stothert's Facebook

Racial Comment by Donald Armstrong on Jean Stothert’s FB page allowed to remain.

I have a dream too, that Jean Stothert is no longer Mayor, but I will survive the current nightmare!

The Congressman from Nebraska’s second district continues his legacy of No Integrity.  Lee Terry has no integrity when it comes to supporting the real issues. In an interview about Syria with the Huffington Post, Lee Terry says, “My “gut feeling” is that the Syrian government acquired chemical weapons from Iraq.” Yet, Congressman Terry does not support military intervention in Syria. In another example of absurdity and lack of integrity from Lee Terry, the Congressman offered to replace the Affordable Care Act with a health care proposal that’s both similar to ObamaCare and reminiscent of a policy proposed by John Kerry during his presidential campaign back in 2004. See video below.

Can we afford to have these two in office any longer?  I think not.

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OMAHA, NE – The Omaha City Council held the public hearing for the proposed budget Tuesday night at 7pm, August 13, 2013. The City’s Legislative Chamber was full of residents who wanted to speak or listen to arguments and comments being made on the budget.

The Sustainability office – Omaha is losing the ECO-Omaha sustainability office which managed pro environment issues for the city. The office was created in 2009, when the federal government gave out hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus money.  Since 2009, Omaha’s sustainability office has received nearly 15-million dollars from the Department of Energy. Members of the Verdis Group spoke at the hearing and made a strong case for keeping the Sustainability Office.  According to the  Verdis blog

Since its formation in 2009, ECO-Omaha has been working on and achieved the following (list not all-inclusive):

  • Implementation of several energy efficiency projects, which reduced municipal energy consumption by 16% (from 2009–2012) and resulted in roughly $775,000 per year in avoided costs. These projects also reduced the City’s municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 13%, equivalent to removing 3,125 cars from the road.

  • Earned and implemented a Department of Energy grant to build an energy upgrade market in Omaha through a program called reEnergize*. The result: over 1,300 energy upgrades for Omaha residents, which should result in collective savings approaching $1 million. Yup, you read that right…$1 million.

  • Led the completion of the City’s first Comprehensive Energy Management Plan**, which provides the framework and implementation strategy for effectively managing the City’s use and supply of energy.

The Verdis Blog also provides a strong case for keeping the Sustainability Office active.

  1. In a 2011 City Practice Brief, the National League of Cities highlighted four cities that have leveraged sustainability into economic development. The first sentence of the brief read, “Sustainability is a fundamental component of building a strong community, not only in terms of the physical environment, but also for economic prosperity.” Does anyone know a politician that doesn’t like economic prosperity?

  2. Investments in these kinds of positions pay for themselves. To date, Omaha’s team has brought in $15 million in grants. As mentioned earlier, annual avoided costs are in the $750,000 range, and Omahans across the city are benefitting from recent upgrades through reEnergize. Seems like a reasonable Return on Investment to me.

  3. The City of Omaha’s budget and operations are huge (2014 budget = $800 million in revenue), and far smaller businesses have dedicated – no, invested – in sustainability FTEs. Greenhouse gas emissions associated with Omaha’s municipal operations are nearly 100,000 metric tons of CO2e. That’s the equivalent to the annual emissions of 20,800 passenger vehicles. There is simply a lot to manage, and if an entity as big as the City doesn’t have someone dedicated to limiting its environmental impact in a strategic way, that spells trouble.

  4. The vast majority of Fortune 500 firms invest resources (time, money and people) into sustainability programs. These firms typically don’t make hasty decisions. Sustainability is good for business. Could it be the case that it’s also good for cities?

  5. Sticking with the “everyone else is doing it” theme; a quick survey of Omaha’s peer cities shows that most do have sustainability coordinators of some sort, although we were unable to determine how many are grant funded versus paid for via general fund dollars.

  6. If the Office is successful, emissions go down. When emissions go down, the air is cleaner. When people breathe cleaner air, they’re healthier. Omaha is currently ranked 142nd out of 182 on a healthy city index; a little clean air couldn’t hurt.

An organization called Omaha Together One Community had its members speak at the Budget Hearing to call on the City Council to fund a 10th Housing Inspector, as well as provide funds for demotion of buildings which are a danger to their communities in Omaha and a call for an Omaha Land Bank.

Omaha 2014 Proposed Budget

The Fire Budget was also a hot topic.  Fire Union President Steve LeClair opposed the budget, specifically how it relates to public safety.  “The prospect of laying off firefighters, closing a station, shutting down apparatus, should scare the hell out of us,” LeClair said.  Much of the fire budget battle is being fought in the courts over a temporary injunction over the budget. On Aug 18th, Douglas County District Court Judge James Gleason ruled that an injunction premature because the budget has not yet been approved by the city council.  The goes on to mention, “The evidence before the Court shows that the Defendant Mayor of the City of Omaha has proposed a budget which arguably could have a deleterious effect on the safety of firefighters and therefore may be a breach of the contract (between the union and the city),”  I believe the most legal solution the Union and the City can agree on is starting renegotiations on the Fire Contract.  The Mayor, the City Council nor the Union cannot break the contract unilaterally.  They have to follow the contract or renegotiate in good faith, and they have to follow the provisions laid out in the contract they all agreed on.

One local organization and blog, Forward Equality, commented on the $23 million in cuts for Public Works and the Human Rights and Relations, department, most notably $52,000 in cuts for Civil Rights Investigations.  Forward Equality State Field Director said of the cuts, “Forward Equality believes that the Human Resources, Human Rights and Relations, and the Public Works Departments are vital departments to the City of Omaha and basically all Cities in the United States.  Cuts to these departments will only hurt the City of Omaha if not done in responsible manors.  We especially believe that any and all cuts to the Human Rights and Relations Department should not be made because the department is already working on a skeleton staff and the department budget is already very small, therefore, any and all cuts to this department will be dangerous to the department’s ability to function.” 

Cuts to Public Works $23 million

Public Works $23 million in Cuts.

Cuts to Public Works $23 million

Cuts to Civil Rights Investigations

Civil Rights Investigations Cuts $52,000

Civil Rights Investigations Cuts $52,000

City Elected Reps Contacts – Please contact your City of Omaha Officials, tell you oppose these cuts!

Mayor Jean Stothert, jean.stothert@@ci.omaha.ne.us and 402-444-5000
District 1: Pete Festersen, pete.festersen@ci.omaha.ne.us and 402-444-5527
District 2: Ben Gray ben.gray@ci.omaha.ne.us and 402-444-5524
District 3: Chris Jerram, chris.jerram@ci.omaha.ne.us and 402-444-5525
District 4: Garry Gernandt, garry.gernandt@ci.omaha.ne.us and 402-444-5522
District 5: Rich Pahls, rich.pahls@ci.omaha.ne.us and 402-444-5528
District 6: Franklin Thompson, franklin.thompson@ci.omaha.ne.us and 402-444-5523
District 7: Aimee Melton, aimee.melton@ci.omaha.ne.us and 402-444-5526


OMAHA, NE – Heartland Pride President, Beth Rigatuso, refused to apologize publicly to LGBT activists in Omaha at Heartland Pride’s monthly meeting Thursday evening, although, she did extend apologies to a couple of the attendees not named Ken Riter.  I’m too NASTY of a human being for her apology.  I am relieved.  I was also further accused of saying NASTY things about Beth on the Progressive Oasis blog, which is complete nonsense and absolutely untrue.  Here is the link to the only articles I wrote about Heartland Pride 2013 before this one that even bother mentioning Beth Rigatuso.  Nothing was said about Beth that was even remotely close to being called a Westboro Protester.  Beth justifies herself by saying horrible things were said about her that were much worse on FaceBook. Horrible things, BTW, that were said after Beth made those initial divisive comments on the news and on the Pride stage that fateful Friday night. Honestly, I never asked for an apology  from Beth for myself. I was asking for the LGBT people in my community that were offended and hurt by her comments, and rightfully so. Beth did say, if you want your apology from her, you’ll have to go to her and get it.

I’m not surprised, by her attitude,  My first encounter with Beth wasn’t pleasant, and I doubt our nonworking relationship will produce any work in the future.  I may attend more Pride meetings to decide if I even want to be part of any future Pride events in Omaha.  Over the years, I have noticed many members of the LGBT community stop attending LGBT events because they feel Pride, especially Omaha’s Pride, no longer identifies them. Some of them, rather than quit attending outright, will go out of town and enjoy Pride in another city, a more activist city.  In fact, I have felt more and more that Pride doesn’t define me, it has become a party to get drunk at, when it used to represent activism and the fight for freedom and equality.  I am activist, and it doesn’t represent me. I don’t think it ever has.  If you are one of those people who feels that Pride no longer identifies you, that’s OK. You don’t have to conform to what all LGBT people supposedly do.   And, remember,  you are never alone.

 


OMAHA, NE – Nebraskans for Equality is hosting a Full Equality Rally at the intersection of 72nd and Dodge, this Friday, August 2nd, 2013, from 4pm-6pm CST.  The rally will raise awareness to the public of the vast range of inequality issues that members of  Nebraska’s LGBTQIA community face and the actions that need to be taken to resolve them. These issues include, but are not limited to, statewide Workplace Protections, Marriage Equality, Public Accommodation, the passage of legislative bills LB380 and LB385 and much more. Anyone who supports moving forward on LGBTQIA issues is more than welcome to attend.

While momentum for Marriage Equality after the SCOTUS’ DOMA decision is strong and growing nationally, the Nebraska LGBTQIA community must be part of the national movement forward on all LGBTQIA issues. Members of the LGBTQIA community of Nebraska must continue to be loud and proud.  Members of  Nebraska’s LGBTQIA community must engage the public to help increase awareness and knowledge of the inequalities that negatively impact  thousands of  Nebraskans. Nebraskans for Equality founder, Ken Riter, intends to help raise awareness statewide concerning the social welfare of the LGBTQIA community, the challenges they faced by LGBTQIA people, and solutions to those issues in the State of Nebraska.

The acronym LGBTQIA demonstrates the diversity of the community and stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer, Questioning,Intersexed, Asexual and Ally. To further demonstrate diversity in the LGBTQIA community, members can be of any race, ethnicity, nationality, religious denomination, cultural background, economic status, or educational background to name just a few. What sets the LGBTQIA community apart is the discrimination its members deal with based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.  Nebraskans must understand that these issues are not chosen, they are part of the person just as much as race or hair color is. These are the issues all Nebraskans should be aware of, these are issues that must be dealt with and resolved as soon as possible.  

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For further information please contact Ken Riter at 402-686-6389.

Like the FaceBook page at http://Facebook.com/NebraskansforEquality.

Visit the blog at http://NebraskansForEquality.com.

Big Rainbow Smilie

Big Rainbow Smiley


OMAHA, NE – Recent events at Omaha’s City Hall seem to indicate that the Queen Mayor is completely clueless on the parameters of the Fire Contract she helped negotiate. If Queen Jean truly wanted a fire budget that cost taxpayers less, why didn’t she fight to cut actual costs in the contract to begin with? Her contract she touted adds additional costs that were already removed by a previous CIR decision.  Sound like a complete lack planning on her part, or she wanted to load so much extras on the contract at the cost to taxpayers just so she could turn around later and blame the Union for these costs.  Maybe its a tragic mix of both?  The Fire Chief tells Stothert in emails that her rhetoric is unfair and inaccurate.  Stothert even remarked publicly that “its not a circus”.   Maybe it feels like a circus because you are now the ringmaster, Mayor?  Let’s not forget, even the Mayor’s proposal on the Fire Budget is still higher than planned, which seems to be an admission that her contract is costing Omaha taxpayers.

I also fail to see how breaking aspects of the contract equates to the fiscal responsibility she’s been preaching about since her gated community behind first sat on the City Council in 2009. As Mayor, she should already know she can’t unilaterally change terms or conditions of the contract.  I fail to see how allowing this fight with the Fire Union over the contract to go to the courts saves taxpayers money.  I hope much of Omaha voters are beginning to see the mistake they made in supporting someone who is clearly a pillar mismanagement.  Speaking of mismanagement, the Queen Mayor’s budget proposal keeps the restaurant tax intact, something she promised to repeal, but to add salt in the wounds of her supporters, she is going through with a random audit to be sure the City isn’t losing out on revenue. Here’s the link to the Proposed Budget, if you haven’t seen it yet.

Queen Jean's Fire Contract

Jean Stothert knows she can’t unilaterally change conditions of the contract!

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