Democracy is not a
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Call your Senator to Reform Pay Day Lending

February 10th, 2017

OTOC Call to Action      

Call you Senator today to support LB194, a bipartisan bill being sponsored by two freshman Senators, Tony Vargas (District 7) and Lou Ann Linehan (District 39). The bill aims to protect our most vulnerable Nebraskans while allowing the pay day lending industry to remain profitable in the state.

Rev Shreve

Rev Scott Shreve of St. Paul UMC represented OTOC asking the Unicameral to reform Pay Day Lending

 Click on the links  below to learn more:

OTOC Call to Action

How to reign in Pay Day Lending LB 194

How the Debt Trap works

These Omaha Area Senators are on the Banking Committee and will decide if LB 194 gets a vote by the Unicameral. Let them know what you think.

Sen. Brett Linstrom, District 18 & Chair
Phone: (402) 471-2618

Sen. Joni Craighead, District 6
Phone: (402) 471-2714

Sen. John McCollister District 20  

Phone: (402) 471-2622

Please let us know about your contacts at  or 402-344-4401

On Feb. 21, brave leaders gave testimony at a public hearing at the Banking Committee about the impact of Pay Day Loans on their lives

Elsa Ramon Moody

Elsa Ramon Moody of St. Margaret Mary Catholic testified about how desperation caused her to take out Pay Day Loans

Richard Blocker Right

Richard Blocker of Augustana Luther testified about how his need to buy medicine led him to take out a pay day loan

On Feb 16, OTOC held a Clergy Caucus for so faith leaders could learn more about how Pay Day Lending ensnares desperate people.

Clergy Caucus





On Feb. 7, OTOC held an Issue Cafe to teach our leaders about Pay Day Lending

Tracy Bruckner and Lisa Sock of Women’s Fund of Omaha, along with Ken Smith of Nebraska Appleseed gave presentations followed by a question and answer session.IMG_1932IMG_1950

We learned that across the United States 12 million people borrow $7 billion each year. These are people who have a job and checking account and make approximately $30,000 a year. Most have credit cards, but they are maxed out. Most use pay day loans for monthly or recurring expenses.

In Nebraska pay day lenders are allowed to charge up to 461% in fees/interest each year on a loan. These high rates are among the highest allowed in the nation and lead to a revolving door of debt for the borrower. The loans last an average of 5 months, and the borrower pays $530 in fees to borrow $300 for those 5 months.

Reducing Interest Rates

Neighboring states, such as Colorado and South Dakota, have passed laws similar to our LB194. Tracy Bruckner described ours as a middle of the road law. This means that the regulations that would be imposed would not cripple the industry in Nebraska. There are plenty of Nebraskans who need help when unexpected expenses arise, but the restrictions of LB194 will ensure that those Nebraska borrowers will not be stuck in a revolving door of debt that so many borrowers have experienced.IMG_1910IMG_1949

Over 1500 pray, sing and organize in solidarity at Prayer Vigil for refugees

January 31st, 2017

It was a great crowd of over 1,500 people at Turner ParLarge crowdk for the Refugee Prayer Vigil on January 31st. It was a time of prayer, teaching, story telling and exhorting us to take risks to love our neighbor and welcome the stranger.

Comments on Facebook following the vigil were all like these:

“A moving and beautiful evening showing our support and love to our refugee and immigrant neighbors.”

“Very moving evening, seeing so many people of different races, backgrounds, and faiths coming together in the name of peace and unity. This is what my America looks like!”

I am an immigrantThanks to faith leaders including:

  • Fr. Daniel Hendrickson, S.J  of Creighton University,
  • Bishop Brian Maas of the ELCA,
  • Rabbi Steven Abraham of Beth El Synagogue,
  • Rev. Eric Elnes of Countryside Community
  • Deacon Marty Smith of St. Margaret Mary Catholic
  •   for teaching and praying and calling on us all to heed God’s injunction to welcome the stranger
    Rabbi Abraham

    Rabbi Steven Abraham of Beth El Synagogue

And also to:

  • Rev Jane Florence and Rev Cynthia Lindenmeyer of First UMC
  • Sr. Katheen Erickson, RSM
  • Rev. Ernesto Medina, of St. Martha Episcopal, Papillion
  • Rev. Sergio Amaya of San Andres Lutheran
  • Rev. Cyndi Simpson, of Second Unitarian Church
  • Rev. Scott Jones of First Congregational

For leading powerful prayers asking God’s love for refugees, for those who persecute them, for immigration and elected officials and for all of us so that we have the courage to welcome the stranger.

Thanks to our Partners

Thanks especially to the staff of Lutheran Family Services and Refugee Empowerment Center who worked with OTOC and IPL to organize this vigil and especially for Lacey Studnicka of LFS for her tireless efforts to pull it all together. And thanks to other organizations who invited their networks including Nebraska Appleseed, ACLU, Anti-Defamation League

Media Coverage included

Omaha World Herald




OTOC Leader Speaks Out On Affordable Care Act

January 20th, 2017

Oct 17 press conference

OTOC joined Nebraska Appleseed, Voices for Children, Disability Rights and a mother who has been able to keep her young son alive because of coverage afforded by the ACA

OTOC leader Mary Spurggeon was among five speakers at a press conference in Lincoln on Wednesday, January 18, 2017. The press conference was to encourage members of Congress to have a replacement for the ACA before they repeal it. 

Click Here to see a video of Mary at the press conference. Click Here to read an article from the Omaha World Hearald.

To join OTOC’s effort to assure ongoing access to health care for all, contact one of the Action Team chairs:

Mary Spurgeon at

Mary close upMark Hoeger at

130 concerned citizens attended Who Is Watching Nebraska’s Waters?

January 20th, 2017

It was a packed house at UNO on January 25th when members of OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Action Team (ESAT), League of Women Voters and others collaborated to ask, “Who is Watching Nebraska’s Waters?”  For clear summary of the risks associated with Costco/Lincoln Premium Poultry project in Fremont and surrounding counties, click on the link below:

John Hopkins – Fremont NE Poultry Processing and Production__ Letter_final

Crowd from left side From front rightThe discussion  focused on how to protect the watersheds around Omaha from the runoff coming from large scale livestock producing and processing operations that are part of this project.  OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Action Team is hosting this in partnership with the League of Women Voters and Nebraska Communities United in order to assure that the public begins to understand this issue.

The Panel featured panelists, Bill Stowe, CEO & GM, Des Moines Water Works, Dr. Alan Kolok, Director of Nebraska Watershed Network & Director of the Center for Environmental Health and Toxicology at UNMC provided the audience with an abundance of informationDesMoines Waterworks head

The participants learned that over 250,000 chickens will be processed each day in the Fremont plant, and over 17 million birds will be raised in 400 different facilities in the surrounding counties. These birds will produce 900,000,000 lbs of manure each year.

The OTOC ESAT wants there to be an adequate study of the potential water quality problems and careful monitoring of our watersheds if this project is built.

I…change only happens when ordinary people get involved and they get engaged, and they come together to demand it.”

-President Barack Obama

February Issue Cafes focus on Rental Housing, Pay Day Lending, Environment and Immigrants

January 17th, 2017

Leaders of Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) will hold 4 Issue Cafes and their annual night of Mexican Bingo at Urban Abbey during February. The Issue Cafes all begin at 6:45 and Mexican Bingo starts at 6:30 p.m. Click below to download the whole schedule:

Urban Abbey Schedule for February 2017

OPPD Invidual Meetings

OTOC leaders have invited great speakers to inform you about these key issues:

Wed. Feb 2–Leaders of OTOC’s Housing Action team with the head of Building Code Enforcement from Council Bluffs which recently adopted an ordinance requiring registration and periodic inspection of all rental properties.

Tues. Feb 7–Nebraska Appleseed Attorney Ken Smith, Lisa Sock and others who are part of a coalition of groups working to reduce the amount of interest and fees that pay day lenders can charge from over 400% per year tMexican Bingo Nighto only about 35%.

Fri. Feb 11–OTOC’s Fun Committee will once again host this fun family event where we play Mexican Bingo, eat from a great Taco Bar and win cool prizes.

Wed. Feb 15–OTOC’s Immigration and Refugee Action Team will invite local experts to help us understand possible impact of changes in law at federal and state level and how we can get involved.

Wed. Feb 22–OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Team will invite local experts to explain two important concerns: Carbon Fee and Dividend to properly price the impact of carbon on our environment and assuring that Omaha’s water supply is not threatened by intensive chicken production upstream.


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