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The Public Pulse: Pulse writers give their support on candidates and initiatives

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Here are some tips for voting in this election in Douglas County.

Imminent poll tax

Despite multiple efforts to find widespread fraud in voting, those responsible for verifying the results of the 2020 election confirm the accuracy of the results, no matter what political party dominated the state government. Yet a poll tax — a tax that disfranchises vulnerable populations, is imminent unless voters vote no on Measure 432.

Measure 432 requires amending the Nebraska Constitution to deny a registered voter the right to vote unless they present a “… qualified photographic identification.” What will qualify? How will one obtain the needed documentation? How much will it cost? Many potential voters, the elderly, the poor, have no car and therefore no license. The time and expense to get a birth certificate, school photo or who knows what, can mean $30 to $50 out-of-pocket. If out of a job or working to feed self and/or family, that’s a problem. Time off from work, child care, walk or ride bus to and from locations, fill out forms, sign papers, all become poll tax.

Patricia Smith, Omaha

Core for OPPD board

I am writing to recommend Matt Core for OPPD District 4 board member.

I have worked with Matt for several years and have been impressed by his professionalism and passion for his work. Matt is dependable, loyal and very respectful. He is friendly as well as honest; and one of the most pleasant persons you’ll ever meet or work with. Matt has a great work ethic. He is a part of two specialty teams within the sheriff’s office, including our search and rescue team, and has taken on new challenges as coordinator of our Project Lifesaver program, which provides monitoring for persons who have autism, Alzheimer’s or Down syndrome.

Matt is very family-oriented and a man of high moral character. I have no doubt with Matt’s background and leadership abilities, that he is the best candidate to serve the citizens of OPPD District 4.

Join me at the polls to vote for Matt Core on Nov. 8.

Linda Reicks, Bellevue

Public safety and security

Just received an ad from NEGOP concerning Tony Vargas’ votes on LB 1004 and LB 447. The problem I found with both bills is that they don’t back up their criticism. LB 447 (March 18, 2017) eliminated the word “mandatory” from minimum penalties language, but did not change the minimum sentence, this had nothing to do with drug crimes as per the ad.

LB 1004 was introduced Jan. 15, 2020, and dealt with “age of majority of minors and the powers and duties to supervise parolees and changes provisions related to paroles” and has nothing to due with the early release of criminals convicted of domestic assault, assault of a child, armed robbery. I find this ad entirely false. The legislated bills sited do not support votes by Vargas on these issues.

I have already voted so any political ads I receive are trash-bound anyway. If Don Bacon is so committed to our nation’s public safety and security, why won’t he criticize the Republican Party’s view on the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and support the committee to find out the truth about what happened that day and who is responsible for it. Why did he not volunteer for the committee to make it more bipartisan? Surely, his voice could have made a difference.

Doug Schrawger, Omaha

Per-pupil plan

Mr. Pillen’s proposal to distribute state aid to schools on a per-student basis (Omaha World-Herald, Oct. 19, 2022) shows his lack of understanding of legislative intent provided in statute 79-1002. As part of the 10 goals, equalization aid is meant to support school needs “… that cannot be met by local resources.”

Although the calculation is complex, if a school district’s property taxes and other resources can meet budget needs, then state aid is not necessary to achieve equivalent student learning. Local resources increase as assessed values rise, and this plays a role in reduced state aid. All students are supported by the same combination of local and state resources. A majority of Nebraska school districts can fund excellent opportunities for students without equalization aid, and student achievement in those districts bears this out.

Another goal stated in statute is to provide parity of school district operational property tax rates. Giving additional per-student state aid to districts that already fund their school locally with a lower levy opens up a greater taxpayer disparity. For example, Columbus school district taxpayers pay property taxes at $1.05 rate, and the district received $17.5 million in equalization aid (2021-22 data). Centennial Public Schools’ taxpayers fund their operation locally with a $.50 tax rate and no equalization aid. Additional per-student aid to Centennial will only allow their school board to lower the levy even more, creating a greater taxpayer discrepancy with no increase in student opportunities for either district.

Finally, Mr. Pillen’s per-pupil plan, unless supported with higher income or sales taxes, will create school district winners and losers that will ultimately disrupt the legislature’s 55-year mission to assure every Nebraska student achieves at a high level. I am very concerned a candidate for governor is suggesting we head down this path.

Chuck Chevalier, Springfield

Declining debates

It was reported this week that Tony Vargas has declined two debates with Congressman Don Bacon this fall. Historically in the 2nd District, the candidates have participated in at least three debates. One sponsored by the League of Women Voters and WOWT at the Omaha Press Club, a second sponsored by KETV, and a third sponsored by the Omaha World Herald and KMTV. Sadly, Vargas has decided to reject longstanding tradition and decline the Omaha World Herald debate. He also declined a debate sponsored by KFAB and the Nebraska Examiner.

Given all the flack that some directed at Jim Pillen received for not debating, I would sure hope that those same individuals critical of him will express their disappointment in Tony Vargas. Second District voters deserve ample opportunities to hear where each candidate stands on the tough issues facing our country. I applaud Rep. Bacon, the incumbent, for leading the way on debates and doing his best to represent the people of Nebraska.

Tim Heller, Omaha

McGowan support

Mike McGowan is a career utility man. His opponent is a career politician who has lost his one government job, and is merely looking for another government job. I ran against Mike in the primary and studied and observed his involvement on the present MUD Board, and he knows the subject matter and the people to get the job done with one of the lowest gas rates in the nation. Mike deserves your vote for Metropolitan Utilities District.

Dan Ryberg, Omaha

Cutting benefits

I find it amazing that Don Bacon is implying how inflation is hurting him at the grocery store. He retired as a general with a very sizeable pension. Now, he is in Congress with a second income and basically free health care. And he is earning a second pension now. I sure wish I had pensions, but like the majority of Americans, I’m stuck with 401Ks. It’s been a good number of years since Don Bacon wore a uniform, yet he still shops at a PX. Whatever you and I pay at the supermarket, Don Bacon pays less. He pays less because the PX is subsidized by taxes you and I pay. Don Bacon wants to cut Social Security benefits. It’s an easy benefit for him to pare down, since it really won’t affect him by much. He’s got his pensions. Am I the only one who thinks that all Americans should shoulder the pain of cuts? If Social Security gets cut, then military pensions should get cut by the same percentages. No surprise that Don Bacon isn’t talking about cutting military pensions, just Social Security.

Ren Rieur, Omaha

Bussed migrants

Vice President Kamala Harris did an interview earlier this month where she stated it was a “dereliction of duty” on the part of the governors of Texas and Florida to bus migrants to sanctuary cities. She then said the proper way to handle the situation is to communicate with the federal government and “if we agree there is a problem” to work on the issue together. Isn’t it a “dereliction of duty” on her part and Biden’s part, as well as Mayorka’s part, to not address the problem? But I guess the other part of the equation of what she said and probably the key part of her statement was “if we agree there is a problem.” That alone is the problem.

Linda Miller, Omaha

Minimum wage hike

Erin Bamer (“Minimum Wage Hike Could Help Thousands,” Oct. 24) cites comments by Julie Sonderup as supporting an increase in Nebraska’s minimum wage base. In reality, Ms. Sonderup’s views reflect classical economic theory that the market, and not government, are the best determinates of labor’s value. Without government prodding, Ms. Sonderup’s family business decided to increase their wages to $15 an hour. Clearly, they made a decision that paying $15 an hour was right for their business, their employees, their customers and their own bottom line. What supporters for the minimum wage base always forget is that for most employers, the government cannot and does not mandate how many employees they retain. Ms. Sonderup has the right number of employees for her business at $15 an hour. Left unsaid, is whether she would have the same number of employees if the government mandated $20 an hour.

Donald Tracy, Omaha

Look in the mirror

“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” The Old Testament proverb came to mind after reading “Patient care for Nebraskans at risk without financial support” by Jeremy Nordquist on Oct 20. Imploring “elected leaders to step forward” and fund health care services misses a big part of the problem: lack of personal responsibility.

Largely preventable costs are associated with diet, exercise, life style, vaccinations, etc.; borne by all of us, unfortunately, through higher taxes and insurance premiums and loss of “vital health care services.”

Time to look in the mirror to see the problem and the solution.

Dick Netley, Omaha

On inflation

In view of the crucial upcoming election, let’s challenge the assumption that the Biden administration is to blame for inflation. The principal causes are the COVID pandemic and the the war in Ukraine. As president, Donald Trump first denied the COVID threat, then mishandled the response, while turning millions of followers against science and vaccines. His malfeasance directly cost the United States 150,000 unnecessary deaths, and the near stoppage or failure of in-person businesses for nearly two years.

Trump’s support and admiration of Vladimir Putin and other dictators may have led Putin to assume that the U.S. would be supportive, or at least neutral, as he illegally attacked our ally, the independent country of Ukraine. Trump’s rhetoric encouraged autocrats around the globe to further oppress their populations. An international energy crisis ensued, affecting all economies, just as the pandemic seemed to subside. If you can honestly attribute our current, and temporary, economic slump to Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, I have a bridge in Crimea I’d like to sell you.

Roger duRand, Omaha

Crime report

The FBI released their annual crime report for 2021 this month. Many on the left are disingenuously lamenting Republicans’ focus on crime, saying that “murders are only went up by 4%.”

First of all, isn’t any increase unacceptable? Second, it is worth noting that this 4% increase is built on top of a 30% spike in murders in 2020. So the headline should read: Murders have increased 34% since 2019 and America has been unable to reverse a 30% spike in 2020.

Not to mention, New York City and Los Angeles did not report their crime data for 2021 to the FBI, meaning that murders from two of America’s most violent and populous cities were not included in the 4% increase. In other words, murders likely climbed higher than reported.

Elected officials should put victims before criminals. Voters should re-elect Don Bacon and Don Kleine this November.

Mary Harper, Bennington

Remark question

At a rally, Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama made a blatantly racist remark that the Democrats support reparations for the descendants of enslaved people because “they think the people that do the crime are owed that.”

Then on a national news show, Congressman Bacon was asked his thoughts on the Tuberville rant. His reply “It was impolite. I would not have said it that way.” How does one make an obviously racist remark in a polite manner?

Larry Brennan, Omaha

Friendship over politics

On two separate occasions, I was very happy to join my friends and family at events we celebrated at local restaurants. At the first event, I was well into the lively discussion with “my” people, all of whom have the same political thoughts and feelings as I do. This is rare for me since most of my non-family members are radically opposite me. At the other event, the group consisted of some who I guessed were supporters of the other party. Not one word came up about our politics. It was lovely to be with humans who are able to have fun together.

Roda Elman, Omaha

Support teachers

Teachers are heroes, and with staff shortages and additional challenges (like COVID), their work gets harder every day to educate Nebraska’s children. Nebraska will not succeed, Nebraska’s children will not succeed, if we, the Nebraska voters and taxpayers, do not support our State Board of Education and local school boards and provide adequate support for our teachers and funding for our schools.

The teacher shortage is a critical problem. Recently, the 2023 Nebraska Teacher of the Year was announced and, within a day, she was being attacked by extremist groups and by many local and state board candidates. Teachers care about the success of their students. Teaching is a vocation, not a job. Attacks against teachers will not help Nebraska or our children succeed.

Deb Neary, running for re-election to the State Board of Education, has a proven track record of listening to constituents and advocating for the power of education. She is the candidate for the State Board of Education who supports Nebraska’s teachers and can help us keep and recruit high quality teachers in our schools. There is work to do to solve our teacher shortage, but that work needs to start with knowledge and understanding.

Susan Thomas, Omaha

Savings reimbursement

I grew up without enough money for college. I went to school and worked every day to pay for my education. I did not have a student loan. Since I have saved money from every paycheck, I was able to retire with a comfortable living. However, I have lost 30% of my savings via the current federal policies. Will there be a program to reimburse my loss like the student loan program?

Garry Jurgens, Bellevue

Pansing Brooks support

I’m confidently voting for Patty Pansing Brooks (Nebraska’s 1st Congressional) because:

1. She listens. Patty will not follow her party’s preference unless she feels it is the best choice for all Nebraskans and Americans.

2. She will represent all Nebraskans because of her extensive experience in the Nebraska Legislature. Patty knows Nebraska and the ethics and concerns that are important to all of us.

3. Patty has a history of working “across the aisle” and will continue to do so for all Americans as a congresswoman in Washington.

4. Patty truly believes in the core values of our democracy and will work to make sure that our American democracy continues well into the future.

It is also important to me that Patty has not accepted campaign contributions from “big” or “dark” money sources. Patty is only “beholden” to her constituents in District 1.

Please join me in voting for Nebraska’s new District 1 congresswoman.

Dori Bush, Lincoln

Wager economics

Professor Arthur Diamond’s Midlands Voices article (Oct. 18) on the upcoming minimum wage vote seems oversimplified. Does anyone doubt there has been a wage/profit tug of war going on in America forever? While economic theory states when the supply of goods is equal to consumer demand, the economy for that product is in equilibrium. Mr. Diamonds states when the price of goods exceeds this equilibrium amount, as when increased wages are passed on to the price of those goods, the equilibrium can go out of balance. This result can lead to inflation and unemployment.

What about consumers with robust cash savings from the COVID epidemic willingly paying for goods even when their price has recently jumped. What about employer competition where one employer is willing to reduce costs other than employment and remain profitable by selling more goods at a reduced price, in other words, competition? What about employers who acquire goods at bargain labor costs by taking advantage of labor from recent immigration?

To me, the vote for a new minimum wage really is a fairness issue. Since labor unions have declined, (mostly the result of labor union corruption) workers have little negotiating power. Chairman Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, has even said it may take more unemployment to help cure inflation. It’s as if employers would like to see more unemployment so they can be in a negotiation position. Company’s say they just can’t absorb increased labor costs, but many corporate profits are at all time highs. I think employees could use a little help.

Joseph Slattery, Omaha

OWH Public Pulse September 2022

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Pulse writer says Scott Frost's loyalty to his assistant coaches may have led to the Huskers coach's downfall at UNL.

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Pulse writer says the public hearing about local property tax increases was a waste of time.

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Pulse writer says HR 8717 will improve the long-term solvency of Social Security.

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Candidate Angie Lauritsen is truly capable of rising above partisan politics if elected to Legislative District 36, Pulse writer says.

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Pulse writer questions the sense of fairness of the Nebraska Board of Pardons in the case of Earnest Jackson.

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The University of Nebraska should stop wasting time and money and give the head coaching job to Mickey Joseph for the next five years, Pulse writer says.

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Pulse writer says the formation of Charles Herbster's new PAC will make the Nebraska Legislature more partisan.

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Pulse writers give their thoughts on the the state of Husker football.

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Pulse writer offers perspective as the parent of an LGBTQIA child.

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Pulse writer praises editors of Lee Enterprises’ Nebraska daily newspapers for standing up for student journalists.

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Nebraska's judicial accountability and oversight system is in need of significant reform, Pulse writer says.

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Pulse writer says President Biden's plan for forgiving student loans will create a drag on the economy.

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Pulse writer says a debate is the best place and an most efficient way for candidates to convey their message to Nebraskans.

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Tony Vargas brings a perspective that can better represent the interests of District 2, Pulse writer says.

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Pulse writer sounds off on Husker football, and offers to be the next head coach.

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Pulse writers give praise to hard-working newspaper carrier celebrating 50 years.

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Congressman Bacon has a dismal voting record on Labor and Retiree issues, Pulse writer says.

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Downtown jazz club is a “Jewell” in our midst, Pulse writer says.

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Pulse writers praise Creighton Prep and Marian high schools for setting their own policies on gender identity.

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Cancelling thousands of dollars of federal student loan debt is a mistake, Pulse writer says.

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Pulse writer says Malcolm X deserves to be the next induction into Nebraska's Hall of Fame.

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Pulse writer says Nebraskans deserve a full investigation into the ethanol plant blamed for illness and widespread contamination in Mead.

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Student journalists at Grand Island Northwest High School should be proud of their work, Pulse writer says.

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Pulse writer was inspired by article on Duane Hansen paddling an 846-pound pumpkin 38 miles down the Missouri River.

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Pulse writer says that student loans should be the responsibility of the students, not the taxpayers.

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Pulse writer says look to Husker volleyball to brighten your mood.

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