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The Public Pulse: Blowing smoke; Raikes for Ed. board; Assault is not political

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Controlled burns

On April 15, a smoky haze covered the Omaha metro. It was the result of a prescribed burn at Desoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge 30 miles north of Omaha. The next day’s smoke-filled air was reminiscent of the smoke that often descends upon Omaha during the Kansas prairie burns each spring. Clearly, there is a benefit to each of these burns. That said, I would like to see a cost-benefit analysis of the benefit versus the health impacts on a metro population of a million-plus. I have to believe there is a measurable negative impact that could surpass the benefit. This would be a worthwhile study in the public’s interest.

Greg Lickteig, Omaha

Raikes support

As you prepare to vote in the May 10 primary election, don’t forget to think about who will represent you on the State Board of Education. Helen Raikes is an excellent choice for District 5, which covers much of southeast Nebraska. Hers will be a moderate voice, a firm and thoughtful voice for strong Nebraska schools.

Helen recognizes the urgency of the teacher shortage in Nebraska, which is especially acute in rural schools. She will support practical ways to ease it, such as innovative approaches to recruiting and retaining teachers and to certifying those who are ready for the classroom.

She has long worked to promote early childhood education that offers young children the foundation for success throughout their lives. And when those children are older, she’s all for school programs that prepare students for good jobs when they graduate. There are some fine career programs in some city school systems; she’d like to see more in rural schools.

Helen lives on a Saunders County farm that’s been in the family for more than a century. She is a parent and a grandparent who has a healthy respect for the wisdom of parents and teachers, partners in assuring that all children get a high-quality education. She believes in local control and she sees schools as the glue of any thriving community. She will work to strengthen them through well-considered policies at the state level that support local schools and educators in doing what they do best.

We don’t need to worry that Helen will veer off into causes that don’t really have much to do with what matters for education in Nebraska. She will help steer a steady course for a school system in which Nebraskans rightfully take pride.

Kathleen Rutledge, Garland, Neb.

Assault is not Political

Andrew L. Sullivan’s letter (“Scandals are political”) shows his apparent disregard not only for social mores, but of the legal consequences of criminal assault behavior. In defending Hal Daub and the horribly ignorant and misogynistic comment regarding the choice of clothing an assault victim may have been wearing, he claims the OW-H editorial regarding Daub’s comment is “living in a dream world in thinking it can erase biological realities.”

By “biological realities,” Sullivan likely means “boys will be boys.” It still does not excuse inappropriate or illegal behavior. Period.

“Boys committing assault” should be “boys going to prison.”

Sullivan states correctly that clothing may communicate motives and intentions; however, it never in any setting communicates “I give you consent to assault me.” Any action taken due to a misreading of the communication is the fault of the assaulter, who should pay the social, political and criminal consequences.

John A. Wees, Omaha

COVID relief

Shame on the Nebraska State Legislature. They were complaining that Gov. Ricketts did not want to apply for the COVID relief funding to help renters and landlords and they wanted to force him to apply. When he vetoed this, they did not have enough votes to override his veto.

Then they voted to lower the tax rate for the upper-income taxpayers and not provide any relief of the lower- and middle-income taxpayers.

How can we get people to move here or stay here when taxes are so high?

Susan Peters, Omaha

Stop the war

Why is NATO, the USA and our allies not putting an end to the evil going on in Ukraine? Children are being massacred, innocent civilians are being destroyed and they are allowing it to continue. If we could have stopped Hitler and his evil regime, we would have. If we could have stopped the 9/11 terrorists from getting on the planes used to kill thousands, we would have. So why do we allow Putin to kill, rape and destroy a whole country and do nothing about it? Please pray that Putin would stop the violence. Please pray that God will lead those who can, to do something to put an end to the death of the people of Ukraine. God Bless America.

Ed Volpi, Fremont

Lindstrom offers leadership

We are weeks from the May primary, and some of the candidates and their supporters have begun to show their true colors. Jim Pillen rails against career politicians. Ironic, since he’s 10 years into service on the Nebraska Board of Regents and is seeking four, and likely eight, years as governor. He favors defunding public schools that teach critical race theory, but as a regent knows full well that CRT exists only at the post-graduate level in Nebraska. He seeks to speak for all Nebraskans, yet refuses to speak at pre-primary debates. Charles Herbster condemns Washington “handouts,” yet his company requested and received a $1.5 million Paycheck Protection Program loan — even as his company bragged about record profits. He pledges to grow Nebraska, yet moved his company from Minneapolis to Kansas City in 2006, bypassing Nebraska and hiring hundreds of residents in that region. Neither of these candidates understand state government. Neither would represent all Nebraskans. For those and many other reasons too numerous to mention, neither should lead Nebraska. Sen. Brett Lindstrom, an eight-year veteran of the Legislature, is the clear choice for governor. Lindstrom understands well how the Legislature works. Lindstrom would work with the body. Lindstrom offers the kind of leadership that Nebraska needs and deserves. Years ago, Lindstrom started the ball rolling to eliminate the state income tax on Social Security — a goal finally reached this year. He understands that strong schools and other infrastructure attract industry and new talent to our state. Lindstrom has spoken about his plans for the state, unlike his main opponents who have spent millions on vague messages about “values” and their stance on issues over which the governor has little control. When you eliminate the bull and baloney, the pork and hogwash, it becomes clear: Brett Lindstrom for governor.

Roger Rea, Omaha

Hypocrisy is showing

I wish I could take seriously the anger of present and past politicians who question the character over accusations of sexual assault by GOP gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster. It’s especially galling to hear it from Republicans whose voices were silent about 19 sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump. There was barely a peep when Trump bragged on television about grabbing young women’s genitals. And barely a peep even after inciting his supporters into attacking the U.S. Capitol to stop the Senate from doing its Constitutionally required duty of counting the electoral college votes.

Mr. Trumps’ lies about a fraudulent election has had this country divided ever since. Yet, he is still the frontrunner to take the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, if he wants it. Let’s not question his character!

Apparently some public figures, like Mr. Herbster, are held to a rigid code of conduct; a code that most decent civilized Americans agree is necessary to show respect and kindness to one another. And there are others, like Mr. Trump, who respects no law, no limitation or restriction on his behavior towards women, and is a great admirer of President Putin, perhaps the most vile and murderous human in the 21st century. So I say to you faux-outraged politicos in Nebraska: Your hypocrisy is showing.

Robert Bastarache, Omaha

Democracies are messy

I read with anxiety that the Legislature is considering a constitutional amendment that would take the people’s rights to elect the state education board and invest that responsibility in the hands of an increasingly autocratic executive.

The State Board’s mission is to serve local school boards by sharing the work of research and development. The responsibilities of community and families to assure the quality of education should continue to rest with local, democratically elected school boards. Plutocrats have already stolen communities’ rights to self-determine their taxation for education. If we can’t educate and trust our citizen to make informed decisions, we deserve the future we getting.

At Omaha primary and secondary schools, I was taught about the Oklahoma City Massacre, Wounded Knee and the Holocaust as well as Jim Crow efforts to divide our people into separate classes. This teaching of man’s inhumanity to man did not traumatize me nor hinder my ability to provide for my family and be a productive member of society. Happily in those days, local politicians had not yet opted for ignorance as a means of getting re-elected. Left or right, I wish our elected officials would stop trying to co-opt us to their agendas.

G. Douglas, Omaha

Eight-hour gap

Given that the Jan. 6 committee is missing eight hours of Trump’s recorded telephone conversations occurring during the Jan. 6 insurrection, maybe it should inquire, “Russia, if you’re listening, can you find the missing eight hours of Trump’s phone conversations?” Or even go to Wikileaks.

Barbara Krzemien, La Vista

Wild horses vs. cattle

I encourage Robert Rieck Jr. (Pulse, April 14) to study the difference in biodiversity and range quality between intensive management grazing of cattle versus wild free-range horses. The fastest way to ruin a healthy grassland apart from disking it under is to let horses on it. If you came to visit northeast Nebraska, I could show you examples.

Robert Steffen, Fordyce, Neb.

OWH Public Pulse - March 2022

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Pulse writer says teaching accurate American history is fine, but the tenets of CRT should not be taught in K-12 schools.

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Pulse writer says Charles Herbster is the best gubernatorial candidate for Nebraska education.

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Pulse writer says even though we may not always feel represented, it is important to vote.

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Pulse writers sound off on candidates for governor.

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It's more important than ever that we regulate climate pollution, Pulse writer says.

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Pulse writer says every state senator should support extending postpartum coverage.

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LB 1027 does not address the issues at the heart of the Native American community, Pulse writer says.

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Pulse writers say that filling the "special" epidemic health director position with an Omaha Fire Department physician medical director is politically motivated.

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Pulse writers give their views on LB283.

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Define blighted

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Pulse writer says let's celebrate Natural Gas utility workers for their commitment to delivering natural gas cleanly and more efficiently.

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Pillen's experience will help him stand up to government overreach, Pulse writer says.

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President's Biden's State of the Union address was an award-worthy performance, Pulse writer says.

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Pulse writer says there are options for parents and guardians caring for those with developmental disabilities and significant behaviors. 

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Pulse writer calls for an end to false and defamatory TV ads by candidates.

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Pulse writer says the concept of the streetcar, the vastly improved skyline are necessary to take Omaha to the next level.

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Pulse writers express their thoughts on the latest developments from Ukraine.

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Pulse writer expresses concern over emergency access to Lake Cunningham area.

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Women bear a disproportionate economic burden in taking time off from work to bond with a new child, Pulse writer says.

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Pulse writers express their gratitude for Omaha symphony performance.

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Pulse writers sound off on on legislative bills.

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Pulse writers ask who will care for Nebraska seniors as nursing home closures increase.

Term limits

I am not an expert in the politics of this movement, but it opens a door that many of us have cursed as being closed. I am tired of the people who have lived in D.C. through multiple terms, and feel they have become “owing” to those who financially supported their election — and pushed ideas (and more) that are not mine or yours.

How many times have you said, “We need term limits”? Well, there is an organized group that is moving forward. The constitution requires that two-thirds of the states may petition Congress to act. Currently, 18 of the 37 required states have joined.

The Iowa legislature has a house pending HJR 2002 on file. The important part petition “… the exclusive purpose of proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to limit the number of terms that a person may be elected as a member of the United States House of Representatives and to set a limit on the number of terms that a person may be elected as a member of the United States Senate …”

The full Iowa document can be found here: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/LGI/89/attachments/HJR2002.html.

In Terrell Zobel’s Pulse letter (“Prohibit Limits”) he wrote: “we already have limits. It is called elections.” He is right. However, how can our representative(s) not be influenced when they have multi-millions of dollars given for their election? We know there is no way to avoid that influence, unless they are faced with the realization that after two or three terms, they are “out.” If they have that knowledge, I can see that they would be thinking more about “what is good for my constituents?” The money for reelection would not be influential on how they act.

Contact your house and senate representative and about HJR 2002. Let them know you care.

Dale Gross, Atlantic, Iowa

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