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Archive for April, 2019

Environmental Sustainability Efforts This Spring with City Council

April 24th, 2019

During this week’s City Council Meeting on June 4, they discussed both the Ban the Bag ordinance and the mayor’s Garbage Contract Proposal. City Councilman Festersen began by acknowledging the major sustainable strides in Omaha. Wohlners Neighborhood Grocery created measures to not use plastic bag and offers a 5% discount for reusable bags. City Councilman Rich Pahls, pointed out how it was interesting to see the younger people really making an effort from kindergarten to graduate level classes. He encouraged the high school Students for Sustainability to “meet with the business world” to organize with all of the players to have a more comprehensive approach. He argued that a one size does not fit all and that he wants everyone to find their own solutions. City Councilman Harding, also agreed that all stakeholders must work together instead of focusing only on one component. The Students for Sustainability, however, have been organizing together, even collecting over 10,000 signatures for support of this ban the bag. They meet every two weeks during school year and once a week during the summer. In conclusion, the override of the mayor’s veto was unsuccessful with one vote short from a majority: four to three. City Councilman Harding, however, revealed that he is currently working on a resolution for plastic waste to not just plastic bag. He hopes to have it out soon. City Councilman Jerram suggested that the students use those 10,000 signatures to fuel another campaign to petition this issue to be on the 2020 ballot. City Councilman Palermo concluded stating this issue is not going anywhere.

On the other hand, Mayor Jean Stothert testified with new additions to the garbage proposal, explaining that she is listening to the concerns of her constituents. Her compromise is a $22.7 million, 10-year contract with FCC Environmental, that has an added Saturday collection for all of yard waste, with six weeks in spring and six weeks in fall to allow unlimited yard waste pick up, and a sticker program year-round. Larger households could also request three carts, instead of two, after 90 days at no additional charge. City Councilman Harding simply did not think it would be reasonable to have Saturday pickups for yard waste. City Councilman Jerram regarded this Saturday collection as “a sad reflection of the compost system in Omaha” and that he must recognize his constituents concerns for a contract that recognizes how separating yard waste is an environmental benefit. On the other hand, Council member Rich Pahls wants to pursue a contract with West Central Sanitation, a Minnesota company that proposed a less-expensive proposal to Omaha. Pahls recounts this company as “something unique.” In conclusion, the City Council members denied the proposal 6-1, which means the Omaha Public Works Department must create a new proposal and present to the city council before the current bids expire at the end of July.

OWH Failed Veto Override

OWH Garbage Contract

How we got here:

Read More . . .

IPL & OTOC Leaders collaborate with the National TPS Alliance of Nebraska at First United Methodist Church-Omaha

April 10th, 2019

IPL & OTOC Leaders collaborated with The National TPS Alliance of Nebraska Saturday April 6th for a bilingual workshop at First United Methodist Church. The event hosted over 75 people who were inspired by live testimonies of real TPS holders. Temporary Protected Status is an immigration status given to those who can not return to their countries of origins due to arm conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics, or any other temporary special conditions.

Both English and Spanish speakers who attended the event learned about the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 which was presented to the House and the Dream Act and Secure Act in the Senate, which would provide long-overdue stability for Nebraska families and communities by offering a pathway to Permanent Residency and eventually Citizenship in the US for both DACA and TPS beneficiaries.

Read More . . .

City Council voted for Proactive Inspection Policy

April 4th, 2019

 

April 9 City Council Vote-City Council Passes Ordinance for Proactive Rental Inspections but Mayor Stothert Promises VETO

City Council voted 4-3 for a proactive rental inspection system that would start in 2020. They passed “Amendment C” proposed by Gray, Jerram, and Festeresen. This ordinance will require all properties to register, and begin a 10-year cycle of proactive inspections in 2020. Both Council President Ben Gray and Council Member Amy Melton thanked OTOC for your dedicated work on this issue. Thank you all who have shown up, called, shared posts, told your friends, stayed informed, and supported the listening, research, and action of OTOC on this years long journey to improving substandard housing in Omaha! But we’re not done yet…

Mayor Stothert is claiming she will veto the ordinance.

According to the Herald: “Stothert later said she preferred a proposal backed by the council’s three Republicans requiring city inspections of only properties with open or previous housing code violations.”

OWH Article: City passes and Mayor Stothert plans to veto her own ordinance

KETV Stroy: https://www.ketv.com/article/omaha-mayor-jean-stothert-says-she-will-veto-rental-property-registration-plan-approved-by-city-council/27092903

What the Mayor prefers

Mayor Stothert was referring a proposed ordinance  by Council member Harding. That ordinance required inspection only of about 1,100 properties where someone had filed a complaint, the city found a code violation and the owner was unwilling or unable to make repairs after an extended period of time.

Inspecting only these so called “problem properties” repeatedly is not proactive.   The Mayor’s favored approach:

  • Would not have prevented the Yale Park debacle–only 2 complaints had been filed about Yale Park during the previous  3 years because vulnerable tenants do not complain. One of those 2 complaints came because an HVAC system blew up badly burning a child and City staff made the complaint. But those same city inspectors could not look at other units  nearby for the same problems because there were no complaints about other units.
  • Will not identify the the savvy slum lord who repairs or covers up the code violations in one apartment, but can ignore the other 9 units in his building that have the same bad plumbing, leaking windows, pest infestations etc. The City will never inspect those units unless or until each of those other 9 tenants also complain.

It will take 5 votes to override Mayor Stothert’s veto, meaning it is possible that no ordinance will be adopted and Omaha’s renters will largely remain unprotected.

Contact Mayor Stothert and let her know she should not veto this ordinance: Mayor Stothart: hotline@cityofomaha.org or call 402-444-5555

April 2 City Council Meeting

The Omaha City Council opted to delay the scheduled vote on the amendments to the rental inspection ordinances for one week.

OTOC had requested an extension of the vote to give leaders more time to negotiate a potential compromise with the Apartment Association of Greater Omaha, that could be enacted by the City Council.

OTOC leaders are continuing to advocate for the inclusion of proactive inspections along with a mandatory registration in the final ordinance that is adopted.

Leaders continue to hold Yale Park as the litmus test for any proposed ordinance. If the any ordinance or its amendments would make the ordinance incapable of preventing another Yale Park, then leaders deem it insufficient.

Over the one week delay, OTOC leaders will utilize this time to continue to negotiate with the Apartment Association of Greater Omaha with the hopes of producing a meaningful compromise that is acceptable to both landlords and tenants.

Leaders also plan to continue to pressure council members to make sure that proactive inspections and a mandatory registration are included in the final ordinance. Leaders are asking that supporters aid in this push by contacting their council member and urging them to support proactive inspections.

Barring any other delays, the final vote is scheduled for the April 9th City Council meeting.

 

 

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