Democracy is not a
spectator sport

OTOC News

Leaders testify on upcoming garbage contract, plastic bag ban that have lasting effects on the environment

April 24th, 2019

Members of the OTOC Environmental Sustainability Action Team testified Tuesday at two different public hearings at the city council. The first hearing was for the Mayor’s proposed garbage contract. After several years of study, a request for Bids (RFB) was put out, and four companies submitted different bids in January 2019. The Mayor and a working group put together a recommendation to accept a bid by company FCC that would have 2 type of waste pick up- 1 combined garbage and yard-waste and 1 recycling bin. OTOC Leaders testified Tuesday afternoon in opposition to this bid, calling for the need to have separate yard waste.

The vote for the Garbage Contract is scheduled for June 4 (read more here)

See news coverage of the hearing:

OWH: Omahans commenting on mayor’s proposed trash contract say they expect more out of the suggested changes

OWH: Mayor stands by two-cart trash proposal as Omahans, City Council members pick it apart

KETV Channel 7: City council discusses proposed trash collection plan for hours

KMTV Channel 3: Homeowners urge city to reconsider Omaha’s next waste contract

OTOC is opposed to this bid by FCC because it calls for trash and yard waste to be commingled and sent to the Pheasant Point Landfill.

  • The bid from FCC for three carts (one each for trash, yard waste and recycling) is $28.6M while to cost of two carts (one which mixes trash and yard waste and one for recycling) is $22.7M per year.  The cost to separate trash from yard waste is only $5.9 Million or 78 cents per household per week. ($5.9M divided by 145,000 households)

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.

 

 

Author Richard Rothstein to speak with OTOC and Community Leaders

March 22nd, 2019

Monday March 25 & Tuesday March 26 with

Richard Rothstein

Author of New York Times Bestseller

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of how Our Government Segregated America 

Events:

Monday March 25–sponsored by Creighton University

7:30 pm  Speaking at Harper Center at Creighton University

602 N. 20th – Free Parking Garage on Cass St.

RSVP at https://excellence.creighton.edu/ColorOfLaw

 

Tues. March 26–hosted by OTOC and Institute for Public Leadership 

Housing Workshop, Family Housing Advisory Services, 2401 Lake St.

1:30 pm:  Meet and Greet with pastors, community organizations, and those interested in housing

2:00  pm: Rothstein and local housing experts present, followed by discussion

Workshop on Intersection of Education and Housing, Learning Community Center, 1612 N. 24th St.

4:00 p.m.  Discussion on how quality education and housing are closely related and what we can do to improve both in Omaha.

Click Here to RSVP for events on Tuesday

Rothstein is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and a fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He is also a fellow of the Haas Institute at the University of California–Berkeley where he resides.

In his book, he “describes how federal, state, and local governments systematically imposed residential  segregation… The Color of Law forces us to face the  obligation to remedy our unconstitutional past.” (from  book description)

“Through meticulous research and powerful human  stories, Rothstein reveals a history of racism hiding in  plain sight and compels us to confront the consequences of the intentional, decades-long governmental policies that created a segregated America.”   —Sherrilyn A. Ifill, president of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

OTOC Testifies Before City Council in Favor of Proactive Inspections

March 13th, 2019

On Tuesday, OTOC leaders joined tenants, nonprofits and landlords to testify in support of proactive inspections in Omaha. In front of a packed house at City Hall, OTOC leaders Karen McElroy, Rosie Volkmer, Gloria Austerberry, Dennis Walsh, Susan Kuhlman and Paul Romero laid out a comprehensive narrative that covered the background information of the problem of substandard property in the city, the failure of the current complaint-based system and the extensive research in support of rental inspection programs.

OTOC’s testimony was supplemented by the lived experiences of tenants and case workers from local nonprofits, that displayed to members of the City Council the horrendous conditions that tenants have been forced to live under. This powerful combination of experience and data shed light on the problem as well as the effectiveness of a proactive solution. OTOC organized this coalition with community partners like Together, Habitat for Humanity, Family Housing Advisory Services, Restoring Dignity, Neighborhood Alliances and associations, landlords, tenants, and community advocates.

 

After nearly four hours of testimony on Tuesday, the City Council is likely to delay the vote on the proposed ordinances that was set for next week, to give the council more time to alter the ordinances as necessary. Thank you to everyone who testified and the many who came to the meeting to show your support for OTOC and Omaha’s renting families.

OTOC leaders urge supporters to continue to pressure their City Council members to support a system of landlord registration with proactive inspections so that we can ensure that all people have access to healthy homes in our city.

News coverage can be found on the Omaha World Herald, KMTV, KPTM, KETV and WOWT.

Read More . . .

OTOC Leaders Testify against Payday Lending expansion at State Legislature

March 13th, 2019

Rod Kuhlmann (left) of Holy Name Church and Kevin Graham of First United Methodist Church presented testimony on behalf of the OTOC Payday Lending Action Team to the Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee of the Nebraska State Legislature on Mar. 12, 2019, at the State Capitol.

Kuhlmann testified against LB 379, which would expand payday lending in Nebraska by permitting lenders to make loans online as well as in person. Graham testified against LB 265, which would create a new class of delayed deposit loan services for loans with larger principal amounts and with longer terms.

Kuhlmann and Graham both presented OTOC’s position that payday lending requires reform, not expansion, in Nebraska. Neither LB 379 nor LB 265 address the core problems of payday lending:

  1. The State Department of Banking reports that payday lending borrowers in Nebraska paid an average Annual Percentage Rate of 404% on their loans in 2017; and
  2. The State Department of Banking reports that borrowers renewed their payday loans an average of 11 times in 2017, paying a fee of $53 each time, because they could not repay the entire loan amount in 2 weeks.

Read More . . .

Celebrating 9 members of the Omaha Community who represented Nebraska at the 2019 TPS Summit in Washington DC

February 11th, 2019

Friday February 8th, Missioning Prayer and Despedida (Send-Off)

This past Friday, over 100 leaders from OTOC and the TPS Alliance of Nebraska gathered to hold a Prayer Service that celebrated both culture and faith for the 9 members of the Omaha community who are representing Nebraska at the TPS Summit in Washington DC from February 10—February 13. The Opening prayer and focus statement were given bilingually by Pastor Juan Carlos Veloso, along with Fr. Chris Saenz, who gave the Blessing to the travelers.

The group traveling to Washington DC was made up of 6 TPS holders, 2 seniors in high school who are the US citizen children of TPS holders, and a Creighton University student. The group flew to Washington DC on Saturday and is currently participating in advocacy, leadership training, and the March for TPS Justice on Tuesday, Feb 12.

Read More . . .

Solitary Confinement a mental health issue in Nebraska- Advocacy needed

February 5th, 2019

OTOC and community members heard from Doug Koebernick about Solitary Confinement in Nebraska and the harmful affects concentrated isolation has on mental health.

The evening started with a few minutes of the Frontline documentary Last Days of Solitary which shows the Maine solitary confinement system and the changes they’re made. The film really shows the inhumane conditions prisoners live in when they are considered a treat to other prisoners and staff, and are put in what Nebraska calls “Restrictive Housing.” Restrictive housing is defined as less than 12 hours out of the cell in a week. In Nebraska, the cells are 8 ft. by 10 ft. and include a bed, desk, toilet, and chair. Because of the massive overcrowding, inmates in restrictive housing are often doubled up in the small cell. There are currently 325 inmates in restrictive housing in Nebraska, and ten have serious diagnosed mental health issues.

There are many factors that lead to having such a large number of inmates in restricted housing:

Read More . . .

Rental Housing momentum on state and local levels

January 9th, 2019

City Council Ordinances

On March 12 at 2 pm at 1718 Farnam St, the City Council will have a hearing for three different ordinances pertaining to changes in how the city handles housing and code enforcement. If you are interested in testifying, please call us at 402-344-4401 or email at otocfornebraska@gmail.com for more information.

Summary of Ordinances

OWH Article about the Ordinances: Three proposals to regulate rentals head to the Omaha City Council. Here’s what each would do

OWH Article: Housing advocates push for more inspections of Omaha rental properties; landlords push back

Resources from OTOC

Read More . . .

OTOC meets with 9 area senators in anticipation of 2019 Unicameral session

December 19th, 2018

OTOC leaders are meeting with Omaha-area Unicameral senators. In October, we hosted a Candidate Accountability Session for candidates from districts 6, 8, 12, and 20. (Click here to learn more). Those candidates committed to meeting with OTOC leaders to follow up on their commitment to action.

Leaders are now following up with the victors from those districts, plus other area senators about priorities in the upcoming session.

Senators meeting with OTOC:

Read More . . .



Newsletter Sign Up