Democracy is not a
spectator sport


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

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

OTOC to hold April 18 Accountability Session with OPPD Dt 5 Candidates

March 24th, 2016

OTOC will hold an accountability session with candidates for the OPPD Board from Sub District 5  which represents Central and Northwest Omaha. OPPD is an essential part of our community and the decisions of the Board have an impact on virtually every household in our region. Come to find out more about OPPD, the issues facing our utility and the candidates, one of whom will make key decisions for the next 6 years.

front with crowdBulletin Announcement and Story about OPPD Accountabililty Session

Join OTOC on  Monday, April 18 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Leo Catholic Church (102nd & Blondo) in the Fireside Room.

Learn about:

  • why each candidate is running;
  • how they would balance their  responsibility to OPPD management, the public they are elected to represent and to all OPPD rate payers;
  • how OPPD could continue to reduce their emission of green house gasses to help reduce climate change;
  • what each candidate thinks of the OPPD Board’s recent decision to increase the fixed monthly service charge from $10.25 to $30 per month;
  • how they would approach the financial challenges facing OPPD and electric utilities today;
  • and other topics related to OPPD’s impact on our environment and community.  All six candidates have been invited to participate and most have committed to attend. 
  • Who are the winners and losers chart Revised

    (Click on the image to see detail)  OTOC produced this graphic to show who are the winners and losers under OPPD’s current plan to increase fixed fees from $10.25 to $30 per month and reducing usage rates. Low use customers will pay up to $150 more per year for the same amount of energy (300 kWh/Mo). High use customers will pay $275 less per year for the using the same amount of energy (1900 kWh).

World Herald publishes letters of ten OTOC leaders supporting Transitional Health Insurance–Unicameral again rejects it

March 18th, 2016
Leaders with Rev Nelson at frontDespite OTOC leaders ongoing efforts to educate legislators about why working poor need help to purchase affordable health insurance, some members of the the Unicameral again voted down our efforts.

Many OTOC leaders have written letters to editor supporting T-HIP and 10 are published

Many OTOC leaders have written in letters to the Editor in support of the Transitional Health Insurance program in recent weeks. The Omaha World Herald has published ten  of those letters plus those of several allies of OTOC.  OTOC writers include:

  • Cindy Johnson–The Cost of LB 1032 to taxpayers is small
  • Rev. Keith Nelson-Let us all be Good Samaritans
  • Ruth Kruse–Health care should not be partisan
  • Vicki Pratt–Ricketts needs to find a chair (find a solution)
  • Mary Spurgeon–Ricketts need not worry about LB 1032
  • Carol Windrum— Medicaid expansion a moral issue
  • Mark Hoeger–Helping them care for themselves
  • Lowen Kruse–Medicaid expansion is fiscally wise
  • Marilyn Felion–Waiting on Ricketts’ plan
  • Don Zebolsky–Expand Medicaid to help all families

For a copy of the OTOC leaders’ letters, click on the link below:

Ten Letters to Editor by OTOC leaders about LB 1032

 Overview of Amended LB 1032

Click on the link below to identify your Senator and ask them  how he/she voted on LB 1032:

Link to find your member of the Nebraska Unicameral

See the list of which Senators have previously expressed support or opposition to LB 1032 and how many uninsured are in their districts:

Number of Uninsured by Legislative District


OTOC testifies for LR 455 which is voted out of committee—Strategic Plan to mitigate and adapt to Climate Change

March 7th, 2016

Several members of the OTOC Environmental Action Team testified on Tuesday, March 8 at Noon in support for of LR 455   (Sen. Haar). The purpose of this Resolution is to “create a special committee to create a framework for a plan related to climate change.”

The plan would look at assessments of vulnerability, risks and economic impacts to our state. It would also develop strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change in Nebraska. The amended resolution calls for the special committee to be made up of the chairs of the Appropriations and Natural Resources Committees as well as 5 other members appointed by the Executive Committee. 

photo of leaders at delice

Members of OTOC Environmental Sustainability Team

The Unicameral will make a final vote on LR 455 in the coming weeks. Please stay alert for notice of when you need to contact your Senator to support this necessary study.

Exec Committee Members

For a copy of LR 455 and a one page outline, click on the link below:


Text of LR 455

Fr. Dennis, S.J. will  testify on behalf of OTOC about why the Unicameral must develop a plan to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change

Testimony in favor of LR 455 at executive Committee of the NE legislature


150 concerned Omahans participated in OTOC Issue Conference

February 29th, 2016
raised hands close up

OTOC leaders and guests indicated how many of them had participated in Listening sessions last Fall

One hundred fifty people from 41 congregations and community organizations across Omaha participated in OTOC’s Issue Conference on Saturday, February 27 at First United Methodist. OTOC leaders prepared eight different workshops and 20 to 40 people attended each of the leader lead gatherings.

plenary with Kevin Graham at head

150 people from 41 congregations and community organizations participated in the OTOC Issues Conference

All of the workshops invited those present to take “next steps” to improve our community. Five of the workshops were organized by leaders of existing OTOC Action Teams and these leaders distributed information to participants about what they have learned about the issues they are working on together.  The Five existing OTOC Actions Teams are:

  • Housing and Community Revitalization
  • Health Care for the Working Poor
  • Support for Immigrants and Refugees
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Improving Behavioral Health Care in Omaha & the State
    Karen McElroy

    Karen McElroy of Holy Name Catholic helped chair the meeting

For a copy of some of those handouts, click on the link below:

OTOC Workshop Resources

Group shotThree other workshops addressed new problems which OTOC leaders may choose to work on in the future:

Violence in the Community

Retaining the Repeal of the Death Penalty

Organizing to educate customers about OPPD and how the decisions made by the OPPD Board will impact our climate and our smart energy future.



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Contact Us

3647 Lafayette Avenue
Omaha, NE 68131-1363
Phone: 402-344-4401
Fax: 402-556-1084

Website by Danny Pachman