Democracy is not a
spectator sport


350 OTOC Delegates meet with 12 Candidates for Mayor and City Council

May 5th, 2017

OTOC Audience from the frontFinal Summary of How Candidates Answered OTOC’s

  A standing room audience of 350 packed the hall at St. Leo the Great Church on Monday, May 1 to hear OTOC leaders ask Mayoral Candidate Heath Mello and candidates for all 7 City Council Districts for commitments to work with OTOC on 4 issues affecting the quality of life in our City.

OTOC leaders asked candidates for specific commitments around:

  • Safe Rental HousingLeaders Raising Issue of Pay Day Lending

  • Separating Yard Waste and Garbage

  • Assuring Police serve as officers, not Immigration enforcement

  • Reducing the predatory fees allowed to Pay Day Lenders

Candidate Mello and Council members

OTOC recorded the Session and has created OTOC Report Cards with the candidates answers.

Click here to see:

Heath Mello, Candidate for Mayor

Heath Mello May 1 short answers

Pete Festersen, Candidate for City Council District 1

Pete Festersen May 1 short answers

Ben Gray, Candidate for City Council District 2

Ben Gray May 1 Short Answers

Dennis Womack, Candidate for City Council District 2

Dennis Womack May 1 Short Answers

Chris Jerram, Candidate for City Council District 3

Chris Jerram May 1 short answers

D’Shawn Cunningham, Candidate for City Council District 3

D’Shawn Cunningham May 1 short answers

Jim Rogers, Candidate for City Council District 4

Jim Rogers May 1 short answers

Rich Pahls,Candidate for City Council District 5

Brinker Harding, Candidate for City Council District 6

Brinker Harding May 1 short answers

Dwite Pedersen, Candidate for City Council District 6

Dwite Pedersen May 1 short answers

Aimee Melton, Candidate for City Council District 7

Aimee Melton May 1 short answers

Brian Thommes, Candidate for City Council District 7

Brian Thommes May 1 short answers


Two Page Summary of How Candidates Answered OTOC’s Questions

See Questions and Fact Sheets that OTOC presented to Candidates on May 1

April 8th, 2017

Mayoral Candidate Heath Mello and 11 of the 13 candidates for Omaha City Council attended the OTOC City Candidate Accountability Session on Monday, May 1 at 7 pm at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church (102nd and Blondo).  Mayor Jean Stothert declined to attend this non-partisan, issue oriented session.

The only City Council candidates not attending were Vinny Palermo (Dist 4) who had an OPS School Board meeting on May 1 and college student Grant Sturek (Dist 1).

OTOC  Asked Candidates to support our positions on:

  • Safe Rental Housing

  • Yard Waste Recycling

  • Regulating Pay Day Lending

  • Omaha Police Policy toward Immigrants & Refugees

Draft Final Questions for Candidates–April 30

Final Agenda for Distribution

May 1 Report Card

For Immediate Release on April 27



  • Assuring that Rental Housing is safe and habitable
  • Environmental Sustainability including
    • improving our recycling of yard waste
    • creating a financing mechanism so homeowners  can invest in improving the sustainability of their homes
  • Regulating Pay Day Lending including limiting the predatory  fees that they can charge in Omaha
  • Assuring that Omaha Police don’t become agents of federal immigration enforcement and use community policing with immigrant communities.

Richard Blocker Right

OTOC is  organizing to encourage the Unicameral or Omaha City Council to require Pay Day Lenders charge reasonable fees


OTOC leaders at Urban Abbey in February learned about new Executive Orders that could sweep many more people into deportation

Thanks for making this the best OTOC Celebration of Community Ever

March 5th, 2017

“Share Our Passion”

Thanks to the 500 people who attended  OTOC Celebrating Community on April 1, our most successful annual event to date.

Clergy at the barThanks also to the many OTOC leaders who dedicated themselves to  organizing and planning and planning the evening.

And thanks to our three wonderful entertainers, numerous local businesses and individuals who believe in us enough to be our sponsors and who donated over 300 items in our silent auction.full house framed by heads

Juan Carlos close up

Juan Carlos Veloso–Spanish Protest music

Mary M at Imm and refugee table

OTOC Action Teams discussed issues

St Benedict Solo

St. Benedict the Moor/Sacred Heart Gospel Choir

It was great to work with the people and staff of Kaneko.. Thank you so much, we look forward to seeing all of you again soon!


Kyle Knapp

Kyle Knapp–Acoustic Folk


chow lineAdmiring Art

60+ come to Immigration and Refugee Issues Cafe

February 17th, 2017


Amelia Rosser of Refugee Empowerment C enter and Shane Ellison of Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) shared their experience and expertise with 60+ leaders

Over sixty OTOC and community leaders met at Urban Abbey on February 15 to learn about three of the latest Executive Orders that are aimed at changing the immigration and refugee landscape. This Issues Cafe was lead by the OTOC Immigration and Refugee action team, and featured speakers Shane Ellison, Chief Counsel at Justice for Our Neighbors, and Amelia Rosser from Refugee Empowerment Center.


Sr. Kathleen Erickson, RSM opened with meditation

Ellison provided a thorough but understandable overview of the profound changes in policy that these executive orders embody. OTOC leaders identified a number of next steps which people can take to stand with Immigrants and Refugees. Click below to see those actions:

Final Next Steps for Feb 15 Immigration Issue Cafe’


Join OTOC on Monday, January 20 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at 62nd and Dodge for a Light the Way Vigil  for  Refugees and Immigrants. OTOC  will prayerfully  demonstrate that we want fair policies, based on fact not fear.

2017 Issue Cafe crowdHere is a brief explanation of what we learned. We encourage you to follow THIS LINK to a more thorough summary of the changes brought about by the Executive Orders.  Below is a short overview:

  1. Enhancing Public Safety in The Interior Of The United States
    1. The executive order does not and cannot change the grounds of deportation. People who have status may only be deported if they are removable under our current immigration laws and ineligible for relief from removal.
    2. New Enforcement Priorities include: Those who are removable AND those who have violated a list of wide ranging crimes.

      (See pdf link)

    3. Revives the constitutionally-suspect Secure Communities program.
    4.  Seeks to compel states and localities to enforce federal immigration laws.
    5. Directs DHS to hire an additional 10,000 ICE officers.
    6. Seeks to punish sanctuary jurisdictions.
  2. Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements
    1. Directs DHS to allocate funds for construction of a wall on the southern border.
    2. Directs DHS to immediately construct detention facilities near the southern border to accommodate increased number of immigrant detainees in custody.
    3. Announces policy to detain those suspected of violating immigration law and expeditiously process claims for relief. Ends practice of paroling in asylum seekers.
    4. Expands application of “expedited removal” procedure throughout the country to individuals who have not been admitted or paroled into the US who cannot prove to DHS that they have been continuously present for at least two years.
  3. Protecting The Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States:
    1. Suspends refugee admissions for at least 120 days, and prioritizes protection for religious minorities moving forward.
    2. Reduces the number of refugees to be admitted in FY 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000.
    3. Bans Syrian refugees indefinitely.
    4. Bans immigrant and non-immigrant entries for at least 90 days for nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
    5. Suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program.

Rep Bacon Joins Climate Solutions Caucus to keep pledge to OTOC

February 10th, 2017


OTOC leaders asked specific, issue oriented questions to both Rep. Ashford and Candidate Don Bacon at the non-partisan Accountability Session

In October, at the OTOC Accountability Session, Congressional candidate Don Bacon pledged to meet with OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Team and to join the bi-partisan Climate Solutions Caucus, should he win the seat for Nebraska’s  2nd Congressional district. This unique caucus requires that a Republican and Democrat join at the same time so there equal numbers from each party at all times. Rep Bacon is the first member of Congress from either party from the Midwest to join the Climate Solutions Caucus.Read More . . .

Newsletter Sign Up