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The Public Pulse: Lawyers, step up to help; Elections already audited; Medical marijuana

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In July, Nyaluak Duop faced eviction from her Omaha apartment that she planned to leave at the end of the month

Lawyers, step up now

I was happy to learn that the Douglas County Board funded the Tenants Assistance Project (OWH, Sept. 28, “Douglas County allots $410,000 to volunteer lawyer effort in eviction court”). I am writing as an attorney who has volunteered weekly since the summer. The caseload of evictions has risen sharply since the end of the eviction moratorium. Most of these folks being evicted have a recent loss of income and their rental assistance funds are held up due to bureaucratic delays. I have helped many families stay in their homes by volunteering at court through this program. Legal assistance with their case is often the only way they won’t end up on the streets.

While this money will help the Nebraska Bar hire staff to coordinate the program, it will only succeed if more lawyers volunteer. Lawyers, we need your service, now. I have had many people ask me, “Do I need to be an expert in landlord-tenant law” to help? The answer is a resounding “No.” The only requirements are a law license and a willingness to help the less fortunate.

There’s no better feeling than getting an eviction dismissed, knowing that you just used your law degree to keep a needy family from going homeless.

Fellow lawyers, please consider donating your time to this worthy cause. Visit to sign up now and make a difference.

Andy Vuorela, Omaha

Already an audit

Re: “Nebraska state senator calls for 50-state audit of presidential election,” OWH, Oct. 5: Apparently Sen. Rob Clements is unaware that an audit of every election is completed prior to election certification. Perhaps he should gain greater awareness of the procedures surrounding the conduct of elections before signing a letter questioning the integrity of the nation and Nebraska’s election officials. His ignorance in this matter is troubling.

Kenneth Pullen, Omaha

Get the shot

As of Sept. 30, there were 83,473 people in Douglas County who had COVID-19. That is about one in six people in Douglas County; 795 have died but countless others will suffer the long-term affects of this disease. I was vaccinated and had my second Pfizer shot April 8. On Aug. 31 I tested positive for COVID-19.

I spent the next nine days fighting the symptoms before going to the emergency room at Immanuel hospital; I spent the next eight days in the COVID ward. I survived thanks to the care I received, three days of IVs, three days of Remdesivir, six days on oxygen. I’m lucky: no ICU or ventilator.

For those who don’t get vaccinated, I hope you change your attitude and get the shot. It’s not worth the pain and suffering you can go through or what you can cause others.

Doug Schrawger, Omaha

Medical marijuana

Right now, thousands of families in Nebraska, including mine, are watching a loved one suffer from a serious medical condition that could be alleviated with the use of medical cannabis. That’s a fact. What’s also a fact is that Nebraska is one of just a handful of states that has not enacted a compassionate medical cannabis law. Yet here in Nebraska, people like my son continue to suffer daily.

Opponents of medical cannabis refuse to acknowledge the cruelty of our laws, which label the severely ill as criminals if they treat their pain with medical cannabis. They claim that federal law is the problem — or that the Federal Drug Administration needs to act first.

But it’s not federal law that leads to patients being arrested. It’s our laws. When politicians blame the federal government, they are passing the buck and refusing to take responsibility for our own senseless policies here in Nebraska.

The two new 2022 medical cannabis initiatives work together to end the policy of treating patients like criminals. Under our proposal, a patient would not be put in jail for using medical cannabis if their doctor recommends it.

Opponents can point to the failures of the federal government all they want. But it’s our laws in Nebraska that put patients in jail. It’s our taxpayer money that funds the enforcement of our cruel cannabis laws. We believe it’s time to align Nebraska’s cannabis laws with Nebraska’s values, which means protecting, not arresting, people who are suffering.

Crista Eggers, Gretna

statewide campaign coordinator,

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana

Keep it controlled

I understand some people’s need for medical marijuana. All I would ask is that the state would look closely at what is happening in Oklahoma. It is totally out of control. If I needed it for medicinal purposes, I would want to know the product was safe from being laced with some other substance. To do that, it would mean the state would have to have a tight control on the growers to ensure it was safe. Inspection of facilities and product, vetting of growers and employees, some control over packaging and distribution. Colorado and Iowa probably have some experience in those areas.

If you are not going to do those things, then most any 15 year-old in Omaha can probably tell you how and where you could get some for your needs. Not that they are using, but they know!

In the interest of brevity I would just conclude by saying — there probably will also be doctors who would sell you a script, as “rumored” in Oklahoma.

Dean Briscoe, Papillion

Discerning voters

I think it interesting that State Sen. Clements finds it “puzzling” and “unusual” for President Biden, a Democrat, and Rep. Bacon, a Republican, in 2020, and President Obama, a Democrat, and Rep. Terry, a Republican, in 2008, to be elected in the 2nd Congressional District. Although many like to see Nebraska as a red state, there are large numbers of voters who vote for the person, not the party.

There is nothing “puzzling” or “unusual” about people voting for the one they believe will best serve their needs, regardless of the party affiliation.

Perhaps it is time for our elected officials to remember they are elected to serve us, not their party. Maybe that would bring back their lost ability to compromise so they can get back to working for the betterment of the whole country.

Charlotte Dorwart, Sidney, Neb.

Sound ag option

We own two small farms in the Omaha area, both rented to cow-calf producers. Recent articles in the Omaha World-Herald describe proposed fixes to beef markets (Sept. 27, 2021, Updated Oct 2, 2021). These include legislation to help farmers and ranchers capture a fair share of retail sales. However, such legislation comes with obvious administrative, legal and tax headaches.

Some of these headaches can be avoided over the long term if farmers and ranchers develop their own organic food brands for retail grocery and food service outlets in nearby cities. With local financing and marketing, these brands can begin to earn measurable consumer support in cities like Omaha, Kansas City and Des Moines.

Jim Steffen, Overland Park, Kan.

Massena Corporation

Omaha’s tree canopy

A recent Omaha World-Herald article stated the need to increase Omaha’s tree canopy. An inexpensive way to significantly increase Omaha’s tree canopy is to stop mowing so much street and highway right-of-way.

Government entities that mow right-of-ways in Omaha could adopt mowing guidelines similar to states along the east coast of the U.S. where they mow much less of their road rights-of-way. Begin the process by starting the reforestation on the steeper slopes. This will also improve erosion control.

An example of this conversion from “mowed” to “forested” occurred along the north right-of-way of the high road in Elmwood Park. The public needs to be informed of the reforestation project as was done in the park by signage.

Philip Pierce, Omaha

city forester, retired

Tax burden

On behalf of the members of the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce and businesses throughout southwest Iowa, I am writing to urge caution to Congress as they consider the proposed tax increases included in the reconciliation legislation.

With our economy still recovering from COVID-19, now is not the time to raise taxes on manufacturers and essential businesses who maintained consistent production and delivered critical supplies to keep our country safe and productive throughout the pandemic.

A recent study from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) showed that raising taxes on the businesses in our community will cost the United States 1 million jobs in just the next two years. The NAM study also noted that over 90% of manufacturers surveyed said it would be more difficult to grow their workforce, invest in new equipment, and expand facilities if these tax increases are enacted.

I hope our state and region’s members of Congress will resist efforts to increase taxes on the business leading the economic recovery out of the pandemic.

Drew Kamp, Council Bluffs

president and CEO

Council Bluffs Area

Chamber of Commerce

Horrifying choices

What rule requires that all movies shown on TV during the month of October must be horror movies?

Spare us, please!

James E. Burns, Omaha

What about our needs?

Is Nebraska running so smoothly that Ricketts can focus on Texas and spend our tax money and his time in Texas? Why isn’t he here working on prison overcrowding, the foster children contract that has been a total fiasco, ranchers that can’t profit from selling their livestock and the pandemic? He is misusing tax money again. He is obviously trying to spruce up his national resume, but he is definitely not helping Nebraskans.

Karen Guilfoyle, Omaha

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