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Archive for November, 2015

300 came to Pray and Show Support for Welcoming Refugees to Omaha

November 21st, 2015

There has been a lot of rhetoric, campaign speeches and hasty legislation in the last week about keeping America safe from terrorists who might try to pass themselves off as refugees.

Three hundred people joined  OTOC, the Refugee Empowerment Center, Nebraska Appleseed and refugee leaders for a short prayer vigil on Mon day November 23 from 5:30 to 6:00 pm at Gifford Park. large group from closer in

Five Refugee Leaders spoke about their experiences and three  OTOC clergy and faith leaders reflected on our call to welcome the stranger, even when it is challenging to do .

These leaders displayed Nebraska’s values of welcoming  new neighbors into safe communities for a chance at a better future.

Leaders lighting Candles

Now, more than ever, we must embrace those escaping violence.  America needs to shine as a beacon of hope and enlightenment to defeat the terrorist ideologies based on fear and division. Be a part of the light. Choose light over fear. 

close up of participants

OTOC asks that Clergy and Faith leaders sign on to endorse a Call to Action and Prayer to change the attitude of some of our elected officials toward Syrian refugees


For a copy of the agenda, list of speakers, and next steps from the Prayer Vigil, click on the link below:

Master Copy Agenda for Vigil


OTOC supports Vacant Property Ordinance which passes and asks Mayor and Council to deal with Zombie Mortgages

November 19th, 2015

Nov 17 Press ConferenceOTOC leaders held a press conference on November 17 at a long abandoned house on Belvedere Blvd to express their support for the City of Omaha Vacant Property Registration Ordinance and to call for continued work by OTOC, the  Mayor and City Council and Registrar of Deeds to identify whether Omaha has a “Zombie Mortgage” problem in Omaha.  OTOC chose to meet at this house because Deutsche Bank holds a “Zombie Mortgage”, meaning the bank has chosen not to  foreclose on it for over 5 years and refused the owner’s effort to give the deed back to the bank in 2012. All the while this once fine home has deteriorated to the point it may have to be demolished.

Later in the day, the City Council passed the Vacant Property Registration Ordinance unanimously with ten OTOC leaders there to witness the discussion. OTOC first called for such an ordinance in an Issue paper presented to the Council and Mayor in August, 2013. OTOC leaders have been renewing their call each year at the annual budget hearing, reminding City Council that in addition to allocating sufficient funding for demolition of condemned buildings, Omaha needs to shut down the “deterioration pipeline” that includes over 4,000 houses with ongoing, serious code violations. OTOC Housing Action Team Co-Chair Gloria Austerberry said, “we should all celebrate this new ordinance because it is another important tool to help the City deal with deteriorating buildings abandoned by irresponsible owners.”

Read More . . .

OTOC leaders ask OPPD to not to move forward on rate restructuring

November 7th, 2015

For a link to OTOC’s one page summary and analysis of OPPD’s proposed restructuring:

OTOC summary of OPPD proposed rate restructuring Nov 13

To contact OPPD Senior Staff and Board members, copy and paste the link below:


Four Page Article explaining Rate Restructuring


Five OTOC leaders testified at the Nov 12 meeting of the OPPD. Mary Spurgeon  and Tim Fickenscher of First Methodist, Mary Bamesbuger of the Environmental Action Team, Mark Loscutoff of First Unitarian and Mary Ruth Stegman of St. John Creighton represented OTOC in challenging OPPD to reconsider their plan to increase their fixed charges from $10.15 to $35 and at the same time they reduce their rates by 28%.

Speakers at Nov 12 Board Meeting

OTOC leaders waiting to testify to OPPD Board. Five OTOC leaders made OTOC’s concerns known to the Board.

According to Mary Spurgeon, the 1/3 of OPPD households which use relatively little electricity each month (200 to 700 kwh/mo) would spend about$50 to $225 more each year for their electricity. These 108,000 households would pay an extra $12 Million per year for the same amount of electricity. The 40% of OPPD households using a lot more electricity (1000 to 2000 kwh/mo) would spend $50 to $345 less each year. These 130,000 households would pay $19 Million less each year for using the same amount of electricity.

Mary Ruth Stegman called this proposed restructuring  a “ radical proposal. It is a radical change in the sense that you are attempting to make a fundamental, deep rooted and long lasting change in how we pay for electricity. ” Mary Ruth challenged OPPD to have more community meetings to explain and justify such a change before taking action.

Mary Bamesbuger testified how she has struggled since her retirement to reduce her electric usage from about 800 kwh/mo in August, 2012 to 400kwh/mo  in August, 2015. She made many changes to reduce electric usage and purchased energy efficient appliances in order to live on  her fixed income from Social Security. Mary’s bill would increase by $155 per year for the same energy use under the proposed plan.Read More . . .

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