Democracy is not a
spectator sport


OTOC supports LB 592 to improve Prison Mental Health & LB 598 on limiting use of prison isolation

February 19th, 2015

The OTOC Mental Health Action Team asks you to call or e-mail members of the Judiciary Committee to support two bills that would improve the care of prisoners with mental health issues. Judiciary will decide whether to advance those bills after a public hearing that will take place on Friday, Feb. 20 beginning at 1:30 pm in Room 1113 at the Capitol. If you want to attend the hearing, E-mail Sarita Penka at

LB 592—Increase and improve Prison Mental Health Care and Re-Entry care

Prison mental health services reform: This bill ensures that inmates with mental illness receive treatment; evaluation within 2 weeks of admission and  evaluation pre-release; track inmates with mental illness post-release, readies commitment proceedings post-release. It also requires notification of local law enforcement before an inmate who is potentially mentally ill and dangerous is released. It also allocates an as-yet unspecified amount of money to improve mental health treatment and re-entry programs for inmates.Read More . . .

Over 160 people attended OTOC “Issue Cafés” at Urban Abbey in January

February 6th, 2015

Appleseed LawyerOTOC was selected as Urban Abbey’s non-profit partner during January, 2015.   OTOC leaders to organize three “Issue Cafés” to discuss important issues facing Omaha and Nebraska and a fun event celebrating the diversity of our city. Over 160 people attended the issue discussions and the evening of Mexican Bingo (Lotería).Forty five people started the month off with a fun and enjoyable evening playing Mexican Bingo, eating Mexican food and trying out their knowledge of Spanish language and culture.

OTOC leaders put aside and focused on the challenging issue of Medicaid Reform on Thursday, January 15.  Thirty two OTOC leaders met with Nebraska Appleseed Attorney Molly McCleery to better understand LB 472 which was filed to reform the current Medicaid program to make it more efficient and to cover more working families who need access to affordable health insurance.Read More . . .

OTOC leaders support housing code changes, OPPD plan to spread electricity demand in order to close North O coal burning plants

January 23rd, 2015

The Omaha City Council will vote on Tuesday, January 27 on changes to the Omaha  Housing Code in response to the lawsuit filed by the Metro Omaha Property Owners Association against the city in 2013.

OTOC Housing Action Team co-chair Gloria L. Austerberry spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance at the City Council hearing on January 13 since it will bring better enforcement of City of Omaha Housing codes and better define the responsibility of property owners and housing inspectors.  Council members will vote on two changes to the ordinance suggested by Kate Mahern of the Creighton Legal Clinic and Tim Butz of Family Housing Advisory Services.

Read More . . .

OTOC leaders meet with elected officials, attend MLK Celebration

January 23rd, 2015
HARR meeting

OTOC leaders met at Augustana Lutheran Church early on MLK day to work for justice by learning more about key bills

Nebraska Unicameral: Twenty two OTOC leaders began their celebration of  Martin Luther King day by meeting with Sen. Burke Harr of the Nebraska Unicameral to learn newly filed legislation regarding climate change, driver’s licenses for DACA qualified immigrants, Medicaid reform and other topics of interest to OTOC.

U.S. Congress: On Friday, January 23, sixteen OTOC leaders met with newly minted Congressman Brad Ashford about Immigration Reform, Sustainable energy and Medicaid Reform/Tax Reform.Read More . . .

OTOC at Urban Abbey: Environmental Sustainability on Jan 28 & Public Transport for Refugees on Jan 29

December 5th, 2014
Mexican Bingo Night

45 people played Mexican Bingo (Loteria) and eat great food on Jan 10.

OTOC has been Urban Abbey’s non-profit partner during January, 2015!! Over 110 people have come to the first 3 sessions where they learned about Immigration Reform, Medicaid Reform and enjoyed a fun evening playing Mexican Bingo (Loteria) and meeting new friends. Every cup of coffee or tea, smoothie, sweet treat or bag of coffee that we have purchased during January will result in a contribution from Urban Abbey to OTOC to continue our work making Omaha a better place for all families live.Read More . . .

300 people attend lively & colorful Refugee Culture Night

November 24th, 2014

Darfur Men

Despite heavy snow fall, over 100 young adults from ten refugee communities shared their dance, song and music with a lively and diverse audience of over 300  people on Saturday, November 15 at the 3rd Refugee Cultural Night. The dance performances ranged from highly stately traditional dances from the ethnic groups from Myanmar to a very upbeat traditional dance number by young women from the Acholi community  of South Sudan.  Performance included the traditional leaping dance of the Darufuri men as well as sizzling contemporary dance numbers by Bhutanese youth who were dancing to Nepali tunes.Read More . . .

Habitat for Humanity awards Spirit of Collaboration Award to OTOC, Team remembers Rich Ketter’s support

November 14th, 2014

On November 13, Habitat for Humanity awarded OTOC their “Spirit of Collaboration” Award to acknowledge OTOC’s collaboration with others to win creation of the Omaha Land Bank by the Nebraska Unicameral and Omaha City Council. OTOC received the award with State Sen. Health Mello, the Omaha City Council, the Omaha Chamber of Commerce and the Center for Community Progress.  In their citation of OTOC’s contribution, Habitat stated “OTOC lent its skills at organizing advocacy efforts, researching benefits, and educating the public.”

In other large cities across the United States, Land Banks have been a useful tool to more quickly transform decayed property into homes and businesses than would be the case without them. Due to the potential impact for good that an Omaha Land Bank might have in older neighborhoods here, it was right that our OTOC Housing Action Team jumped into the Land Bank discussions.Read More . . .

3rd Annual Refugee Cultural Night on Sat. Nov 15 at 5:30 pm & Refugee and Immigrant Table Talk on Tues Nov. 18

October 27th, 2014

Omaha Together One Community, Institute for Public Leadership (IPL)  and 9 refugee communities invite you to attend the Third Annual Refugee Cultural Night, a celebration of music, song, dance and snacks from the diverse refugee communities of Omaha.Read More . . .

Forty OTOC leaders attended Oct 20 IMA Candidate Forum and others to attend Nov 8 FUMC Poverty Forum

October 16th, 2014

Rev Williams in fron of the crowdForty OTOC leaders participated in a  candidate forum sponsored by the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA)  Monday, October 20 at 6:30 pm at the MCC Fort Omaha Campus. IMA asked members of OTOC’s Immigration Action Team to ask candidates for US Senate and House a question about immigration. Action Team Leader Dave Pedersen asked candidates what they would do to push for comprehensive immigration reform if they were elected to Congress. He also asked that if substantial reform appears to be impossible in a gridlocked Congress, whether they would support Executive Action by the Administration to extend deferred action to adults with long history of living in the US without legal problems and with many ties to the community.

  Other Topics raised by members of the audience included:Read More . . .

225 OTOC leaders came to Oct 6 Accountability Session with candidates for Lt. Governor and Unicameral

September 11th, 2014

Crowd scene from the sideIt was a full house at the First UMC Commons on October 6.  OTOC leaders Mark Hoeger of Augustana Lutheran and Sarita Penka of St. Leo the Great chaired a 95 minute Candidate Accountability Session with a candidate for Lt. Governor and 6 candidates for the Nebraska Unicameral. OTOC Action Teams made short presentations and told personal stories about 5 issues and then ask candidates to commit to:

Assure Health Care coverage for all Nebraska families

Improve Mental Health Care delivery to those who need it

Make Driver’s Licenses available to immigrants qualified under federal lawRead More . . .

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