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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 Questions.pub

  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

https://youtu.be/hSRta3hO8mw

Pete Festersen, Candidate for City Council District 1

Pete Festersen May 1 short answers

https://youtu.be/CSh0k5ZebA0

Ben Gray, Candidate for City Council District 2

Ben Gray May 1 Short Answers

https://youtu.be/eR4NGSLEJXc

Dennis Womack, Candidate for City Council District 2

Dennis Womack May 1 Short Answers

https://youtu.be/po0Tl-GHhjs

Chris Jerram, Candidate for City Council District 3

Chris Jerram May 1 short answers

https://youtu.be/5uDguhr-l8g

D’Shawn Cunningham, Candidate for City Council District 3

D’Shawn Cunningham May 1 short answers

https://youtu.be/po0Tl-GHhjs

Jim Rogers, Candidate for City Council District 4

Jim Rogers May 1 short answers

https://youtu.be/txtdnTfwx2U

Rich Pahls,Candidate for City Council District 5

https://youtu.be/Q98IMdyk75w

Brinker Harding, Candidate for City Council District 6

Brinker Harding May 1 short answers

https://youtu.be/_4qbqpHPRjY

Dwite Pedersen, Candidate for City Council District 6

Dwite Pedersen May 1 short answers

https://youtu.be/W-aIDS_BrrY

Aimee Melton, Candidate for City Council District 7

Aimee Melton May 1 short answers

https://youtu.be/MjSuFvkCJ24

Brian Thommes, Candidate for City Council District 7

Brian Thommes May 1 short answers

https://youtu.be/GNwam7uvfMI

 

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

 

 back-left

  • 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

IMG_2048

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
IMG_2072

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.

IMG_2002

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
b-and-a-close-up

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 . . .

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
Email: blindstrom@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Joni Craighead, District 6
Phone: (402) 471-2714
Email: jcraighead@leg.ne.gov

Sen. John McCollister District 20  

Phone: (402) 471-2622
Email: jmccollister@leg.ne.gov

Please let us know about your contacts at otocfornebraska@gmail.com  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

http://www.omaha.com/news/metro/uno-professor-forced-to-flee-bosnian-war-tells-midtown-vigil/article_8433ae6a-5c9a-510e-9cc3-690d9397f6cb.html

KMTV

http://www.kmtv.com/news/local-news/omaha-groups-host-vigil-to-support-local-refugees

KETV

http://www.ketv.com/article/1000-plus-pack-turner-park-for-refugee-prayer-vigil/8661451

WOWT

http://www.wowt.com/content/news/Peaceful-actions-taken-to-support-refugees-and-immigrants-412365203.html

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 marspur2@yahoo.com

Mary close upMark Hoeger at mhoeger@aol.com

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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