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OTOC Environmental Action Team pleased, voters reject NRD bond to build more dams

May 7th, 2016

On Tuesday, May 10,  voters in the NRD’s six-county area rejected the proposed bond initiative to build 6 more dams. Thanks in part to the strategic work of OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability  Action Team, the ballot bid was supported by only a small margin in Douglas and Sarpy Counties and then rejected by nearly 2-1 in the district’s four rural counties.

Thank you for the support.   OTOC is pleased with the outcome and looks forward to working with the NRD to find more sustainable solutions to prevent flooding.

*********************Background********************************

The primary election had a Special Issues Ticket that involved authority for the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District (NRD) to issue bonds to pay for a series of dams for the alleged purpose of flood control.  A vote in favor would have allowed the NRD to increase its tax levy to pay for the bonds.

The Environmental and Sustainability Committee recommended a vote AGAINST the bonds and tax.  According to the Omaha World-Herald the new dams and reservoirs would cost nearly $100 million.

OTOC Environmental Action Team Statement opposing NRD Bond Election

OTOC urged voters to consider the following:

Many Questions Need to be Answered before supporting bonds

  • There are many questions surrounding the practice of using the dams for flood control instead of other greenway designs to meet flood risk reduction targets.
  • The need for the dams is based on a 1997 study. A new, independent study is needed.
  •  A recent study by UNO research staff questions NRD’s assertion that a major rain event would cause major property damage in Papillion and Bellevue.  This research suggests that NRD’s damage claims are significantly exaggerated.
  • NRD has been criticized for not encouraging conservation practices such as rain gardens and retention ponds that could stop runoff from new developments and lessen the need for the dams.
  • Many believe that building new dams stimulates new housing and commercial developments on the lakes that are created. This contributes to urban sprawl and negative impacts on our environment.

Why are we voting on up to $100 million in bonds with so little discussion and education?

  • Questions have also been raised about why the vote is on a primary ballot when turnout will be much lower than in a general election.
  • OTOC believes there hasn’t been enough public discussion about the precise need for the dams and the accelerated time schedule for installing the dams that the NRD desires to undertake.
  • Four members of the NRD board have come out against the need for the bonds at this time.
  • OTOC believes there must be more public discussion about less costly alternatives and more environmentally sound options before any new dams are built.

When you see the special issues ticket on your primary ballot, OTOC’s Environmental and Sustainability Committee recommends a vote NO–AGAINST the bonds and taxes that would be approved for the Papio-Missouri River NRD.

For a copy of this statement, click on the link below:

OTOC Environmental Action Team Statement opposing NRD Bond Election

Four Letters to Editor explaining opposition or support for Bonds

Final NRD POSTER

 

Thirty Seven OTOC leaders attend “Leadership in an Election Year: Visioning and a Timeline for Action”

April 24th, 2016

On Saturday, May 14 from 9 am to Noon at St. Pius X Catholic (70th and Blondo), 37 OTOC leaders from 12 congregations and several Action Teams  met to identify the issues and non-partisan strategies OTOC will pursue during this election year and beyond.

During the September and October, OTOC will ask candidates for  the Nebraska Unicameral, U.S. Congress and OPPD to participate in OTOC Candidate Accountability Sessions with to discuss their stands on the issues that matter to all Omaha families like improving housing, mental health care, community safety, access to affordable health care, and sustainable energy. 

 

OTOC will ask candidates to discuss their stands on the issues that matter to us like:

  • improving housing, mental health care and community safety;
  • increasing access to affordable health care and sustainable energy
  • and fair treatment of immigrants and refugees

You are invited to help shape the vision and work of OTOC over the next 18 months. Call 402-344-4401 or contact us at otocfornebraska@gmail.com for questions.

8:45 am to register and light breakfast snacks

9:00 a.m. Session 1: Why We Organize

10:00 am  Session 2: Possible organizing strategies for the Summer and Fall

11:00 am  Session 3: Adopting our Plan of Action

12:00 Noon–Visioning concludes and organizing begins

You are invited to help shape the vision and work of OTOC over the next 18 months. Call 402-344-4401 or contact us at otocfornebraska@gmail.com for questions.

100 OTOC leaders asked 5 OPPD Candidates their stance on environmental sustainability issues at April 18 Accountability Session

April 7th, 2016

One hundred leaders of Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) met with five candidates for OPPD Subdistrict 5  on Monday, April 18 at St. Leo Catholic Church. Leaders of OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Action Team organized this Accountability Session because OTOC wants “to get the public back in public power.”

crowd scene with Laurie Gift at podium

100 OTOC and community leaders asked questions developed by the OTOC Environmental Sustainability Team

The five candidates answered 6 questions posed by OTOC leaders related to climate change and ending the use of coal, increasing the use of sustainable energy, reversing OPPD’s fixed rate increase and improving the transparency and decision making of the OPPD Board and meeting with OTOC again prior to the General Election.

The Omaha World Herald and The Reader published stories about the candidates responses to OTOC’s questions:

Candidates for OPPD board advocate for more transparency in public Q&A session

OTOC leaders filled out a score card to keep track of the candidates answers and Mike McClellen challenged those present to share their score card and their impressions of the candidates with members of their congregation, neighborhood association, family and friends so that more people know about the importance of OPPD to our community and know something about the people who seek to sit on the Board.

Click for Copy

Agenda Accountability Session with Candidates for OPPD

OPPD Graphics for distribution

Score Card

Map of OPPD Sub District 5

Alternative Rate Options for OPPD FINAL Dec102015

Craig Moody speaking

Candidate Craig Moody answers questions posed by Elaine Wells of First Unitarian Church for the OTOC Environmental Action Team

front with crowdOTOC leaders asked candidates to state and explain where they stand on a variety of issues including:

  • Their ideas of improving OPPD’s 20 year generation plan;
  • Their ideas of increasing electricity generation from renewable sources;
  • Their views toward OPPD’s recent rate restructuring plan;
  • Their view toward global warming and reducing green house gas emissions;
  • Their ideas for OPPD’s long term future.

 OTOC is a non-partisan coalition of 30 diverse congregations and community organizations. OTOC never endorses candidates or parties, but will inform member institutions about where candidates stand on issues that are important to the organization.

Fr Mike

OTOC worked to help Senators Override Veto of LB 947–commercial and professional licenses for immigrant youth

April 5th, 2016

OTOC Leaders Mary McKeighan, Mary Spurgeon and Ellen Moore were in gallery today at the Unicameral voted 31 to 13 to override Gov. Ricketts’ veto of LB 947–commercial and professional licenses for immigrant youth. OTOC leaders have made many dozens of calls and emails in recent days asking their Senators to support LB 947 and now override the Ricketts’ veto. Congratulations to all of the Senators who had the wisdom to listen to their constituents and not the misinformation and fear mongering portraying immigrant youth as dangerous law breakers.

LB 947 will  give immigrant youth who have been educated in Nebraska and stayed out of trouble the opportunity to seek a commercial or professional license–like plumbers, nurses, teachers and truck drivers. This bill affects a few thousand young people who have been in the US since they were children and are now legally present here under federal law.

Gaspar Lorenzo with Kathleen & Mark backing upWe have educated them and they want to be able to give back to Nebraska. Under this law, if the federal law ends, their license ends. The Nebraska, Omaha and Lincoln Chambers of Commerce, Mayor Jean Stothert and many business groups supported this bill.

 

Immigrant Youth write OP Ed asking for support for LB 947 so they can contribute to Omaha

Immigrant Youth OP Ed from April 4

 

Over 350 attended successful April 9 Celebration of Community

April 1st, 2016

OTOC wants to thank the 350+ people who joined us on April 9 at the Hot Shops for a fun evening of  music, art, delicious appetizers, desserts, cash bar and a terrific silent auction and great conversation with friends.

people talkingOnce again it was a great evening to see old friends and make new ones. Co-Chairs Karen McElroy and Brianne Kemp guided the preparation for this 7th Annual OTOC Celebration of Community. Margaret Gilmore and Al Howick mastered the logistics and Suzanne Doupnik and Rebecca Morello organized the electronic program. Dozens of OTOC leaders and family members helped with ticket sales and  Cindy Sauer, Judy Torrens and many family members helped with set up, clean up and in many other ways.

 

Carol Beaty once again chaired the terrific silent auction with outstanding offerings from many restaurants, artist studios and generous merchants. Over 80 people and businesses donated more than 300 great items which Carol masterfully orchestrated at the Silent Auction.outside of silent auction

A final reporting of the OTOC raised will be made at the April 25 leadership team meeting and shared at that time.

OTOC is grateful to the following community business sponsors whose generosity helped make this evening a great success!!!

Security National BankSilent Auction main room with Vicki Pratt

Smith Hayes Financial Services

Sterling Financial Advisors

Family First Chiropractic

Curnes Financial Group

Ameriprise Financial

Rubaloff Veterinary

OTOC is also grateful to these leaders who contributed as sponsors as well as giving many hours of their labor to make this event a succces:

Carol Beaty

Kathleen Grant

Debra Romberger

Mary Ruth Stegman

Joe Higgs

Mike and Mary Zomke

Group Pic at the end

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