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The Public Pulse: Maintain local control; Stay within the law; Sports attendance

The Public Pulse: Maintain local control; Stay within the law; Sports attendance

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Maintain local control

Our local democracy needs support. The Nebraska Legislature is considering a state bill that would restrict local governments from passing policies that address their communities’ unique needs and concerns.

When state legislators block local authorities from passing their own laws, they silence the voice of the people and rob local democracies of their power to do the job they were elected to do.

Elements of LB 632 has the potential to stifle local public health policies that go far beyond regulating plastic bags and could even impact what communities can do to protect kids from tobacco use and unhealthy foods.

As a cancer caregiver and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteer, I advocate for public policies to fight cancer and improve public health and this is why I urge our senators to protect the right of local governments to implement policies that will save lives for generations to come.

Rebecca McMahon, Fort Calhoun, Neb.

No room to complain

I would like to thank all the Douglas County corrections officers and Omaha Police Department who have to stay past their normal shift and their families who are expecting their loved ones to come home after their regular shift is over. Amanda Humes and Ben Schacht have publicly complained about their experience at the jail. What did you expect? The jail is not equipped to handle that many people to be processed at once, whether the system was being updated or not.

The employees are doing the best they can, especially for how many overtime hours they are forced to work and the availability of staffing, while you freely enjoyed your constitutional right to protest. If rules are not followed by protesters, expect to be arrested by the police, who need to protect the community and property from unnecessary violence or potential violence.

These guards at Douglas County continuously come to work and are forced to work 16-hour shifts regularly because of understaffing for whatever reason. I’m sorry you were uncomfortable in jail, but remember it is not a country club and you are not the only client.

As far as your COVID exposure — are you kidding me? You decided to join a protest with hundreds of other people side by side. Do not now complain about being next to someone in close proximity in jail. You need to realize the strain you put on the jail system, the overworked guards at DCC, the OPD, the tax budgets of the City of Omaha and Douglas County and the families who miss their loved ones because of your right to protest.

Renee Heisser, Omaha

Stay within the law

Dear protesters: A vast majority of citizens in Omaha and around the country support your right to peacefully protest. The mayor and the police chief of Omaha will also stand behind your right to gather and protest. However, part of the meaning of “peaceful protest” is that the laws of the city, county and state are obeyed.

While you certainly have the right to protest as often and as long as you want, your fellow citizens also have rights, such as freely getting from point A to point B. When protesters take over the streets, that right is denied to everyone else. What if a medical emergency arises? How does the ambulance and medical professionals reach the victim? You are breaking the law when streets are blocked and traffic can no longer navigate. It is a public safety issue. The police made no move to hinder the protest Saturday night until that occurred.

Also posting on social media asking others to join you with a promise of property damage about to be done indicate the intent of criminal activity and force the police to take preventative action. If someone posted they were in route to your house to damage it, wouldn’t you want the police to act to prevent it?

So protest all you, we will support you. Simply stay within the law.

Jeff Miller, Omaha

Unsafe restaurant conditions

When dining out for breakfast last Sunday at a local “First Watch” eating establishment in Omaha, my wife and I) were seated directly across and directly behind other dining patrons (obviously not maintaining six feet social distancing). Similar seating arrangements were evident throughout the establishment.

As we were leaving and paying our bill, we were confined to a small area in front of the establishment with 10 to 12 other people (at least 90% of whom were not wearing masks) waiting to be seated and/or pay their bill.

After paying our bill, I informed them that they were not in compliance with current CDC recommendations and that we would not be returning.

Michael Weaver, M.D., Omaha

Sports attendance

Seeing all the empty Major League Baseball stadiums has me curious why there can’t be some fans in attendance in a limited capacity. If masks and social distancing work like we think they do, then why can’t health measures be put in place to allow families a reprieve from the monotony of 2020?

New local soccer team Union Omaha is leading the way in this effort, allowing fans to attend their inaugural game this Saturday at Werner Park. My family is excited to go, and many others are as well. The majority of these sporting events are at outdoor venues, where the virus is suspected to spread less efficiently.

Let’s take advantage of the summer weather and allow fans the opportunity to attend these games. It may just help everyone’s mental health.

Derek Rayment, Bellevue

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