Democracy is not a
spectator sport


216 donate to Institute for Public Leadership in support of leadership through OTOC and community organizers

June 9th, 2016




On Wednesday, May 25, 2016, IPL held an event in conjunction with Omaha Gives! in which 216 individuals made 230 contribKen Smithutions. Throughout the 24 hours of the event, IPL received $26,779 to continue forming community leaders. As a result of our gracious donors, IPL had the most donors within the last eight hours of the day, which allowed us to win a $3,000 participation prize. IPL will also receive over  $1,000 from the Omaha Community Foundation in “Bonus Dollars” which a match the donations of our donors.

As a result of the Omaha Gives! event, the Institute for Public Leadership had the  5th highest participation  for the day out of 170 mid-sizedMark Hoeger fist pump organizations which participated. Our generous donors contributed over $31,000 to sustain our leadership development for community leaders, including those from Omaha Together One Community. Thank you for your support.




OTOC and IPL to hold Summer Training Academy: “Leadership in an Election Year”

May 20th, 2016

2016 Visioning Session

Thirty seven OTOC leaders attended the May 14 Visioning Session where they agreed to sponsor 3 summer training sessions on Leadership in an Election Year

OTOC and Institute for Public Leadership will hold 3 workshops this summer to help Omaha leaders prepare for “Leadership in an Election Year.” All sessions will be from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Augustana Lutheran (3647 Lafayette Ave).

Monday June 13--Listening and Telling our Story: Creating a Narrative for the change we want in our communities

Monday July 11--Sharing our narratives and agenda for change with voters; how to organize successful non-partisan voter education campaigns

Monday August 8–holding a large accountability session with candidates for office; how to make our agenda the candidate and successfully win their commitment to support it.

Session 2 Marshal Johnson at front of room

Over 90 people from 40 different organizations attended attended at least one of the three 2015 leadership training sessions


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.


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



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 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 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

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