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Ak-Sar-Ben Itself Merits Praise Along With King Dick And Queen Suzanne - 10-14-10

Come Election Day, White And Terry Can’t Duck Party Labels Any Longer - 10-07-10

Today, Second-Guessing Other Sports Commentators But Some Thoughts On Current Political Issues, Too - 09-30-10

Gates Gives Somber Non-Political Appraisals Of Iraq, Afghanistan - 09-23-10

At Last, A Prominent Moderate Muslim Speaks Out Against Muslim Terrorists - 09-16-10

Today, It’s All About College Football With Some “As I See It” Commentary - 09-09-10

Danes’ Sensible Approach To Immigration Won’t, Unfortunately, Fly In The U.S.A. - 09-02-10

Mosque Controversy Isn’t About Legal Rights; It’s About Moral Use Of Those Rights - 08-26-10

Time To Answer The Obvious Question: What Chance For Success In Afghanistan? - 08-19-10

Two-Paragraph News Story Offers Scary Prospect For World’s Future - 08-12-10

Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10

Not Wall Street But Democratic Policy Caused Mortgage Market Crash - 07-29-10

Windfarm Promoters Need More Facts, Less Rhetoric - 07-22-10

Nebraska Democrats’ ‘Find A Candidate’ Problem Began Long Months (Years?) Ago - 07-15-10

When The Subject Is Disasters,Obama Needs A History Lesson - 07-08-10

McChrystal’s Firing Spotlights Afghan War And The Slim Chance Of U.S. Victory There - 07-01-10

Advice For An Egocentric President: “I, I, I” Suggests One-Man Team - 06-24-10

Texas Decision Good For Big 12 But Even Better For The Longhorns - 06-17-10

Europe Is Sobering Up From 'Welfare' Binge; Obama-Led U.S. Moving Toward Similar Crises? - 06-10-10

A New Issue: Does ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell’ Make Military Service Easier For Gays? - 06-03-10

Do State Officials Really Understand The Challenges Faced By Omaha Schools? - 05-27-10

Democrats Continue Cheap Shot Campaign Against Republican Congressman Lee Terry - 05-20-10

Cartoonist Koterba Says It Clearly: Don’t Put All The Blame On Schools - 05-13-10

Citizenship For Immigrants Is Inevitable But Start By Closing The Border - 05-06-10

Punish Wall Streeters If They Deserve It But Liberal Dems Spawned The Mortgage Mess - 04-29-10

Did Legislature, Speaker Mike Flood Deserve All Those Kind Words? - 04-22-10

Tiger Sulks His Way Through Masters— Is Obama Gambling On The Nuclear Issue? Rogue States And Terrorists Won’t Sign Up - 04-15-10

Did Obama/Pelosi ‘Sausage Factory’ Produce A Debt-Increasing Unpopular Health Plan? - 04-08-10

The Stories Behind Some Disturbing Headlines And Some Advice For Avoiding National Bankruptcy - 04-01-10

Four-Vote House Margin Makes Americans Swallow Trillion-Dollar Pill They Don't Want - 03-25-10

Insurance Pays 96% Of Family’s Cost For Seven Years Of ‘End Of Life’ Treatment - 03-18-10

President Angry Replaces President Cool; ‘ObamaCare’s’ Chances Helped Or Hurt? - 03-11-10

Americans To Get ‘ObamaCare’ Even If They Don’t Want It? - 03-04-10

Despite The Headlines, There’s Progress In Curbing Violence In North Omaha - 02-25-10

Corporate Expenditures Bad For Politics Except When They Benefit Liberal Candidates? - 02-18-10

Wind Energy Industry Faced Disaster; V.A. Hospital Not Personal Obama Choice - 02-11-10

Some Remarkable Legislative Comments And Some Questionable Media Performance - 02-04-10

When The Subject Is Nebraska Wind Energy, ‘Green’ Is The Color Of Money - 01-28-10

The “Teddy Kennedy Seat” Lesson Might Benefit Both Democrats and Republicans - 01-21-10

Some Legislative Issues—Like Gambling—Deserve Quick Death But Water Issues Deserve Careful Attention - 01-14-10

Today: ‘Big Daddy’ Government Wrong Again, And How Justified Is Cornhusker Title Talk? - 01-07-10

Dan Neary Worthy Of The Honor--
Today Some Upbeat Comments But "Obama Care" Debate Demands Attention
- 12-30-09

Even Without That Health Bill Vote, Another Term For Nelson Was Questionable - 12-23-09

Let’s Talk Football And Why Nebraska’s Suh Deserved The Heisman - 12-17-09

Image of Immigrants Would Be Helped By Less Cinco de Mayo, More 4th of July - 12-10-09

Image Of Islam Is Badly Damaged By ‘God-Approved’ Slaughter Of Non-Muslims - 12-03-09

Close Call For NU Research, Reputation; Thanksgiving Reminder: Count Your Blessings - 11-25-09

NU’s Reputation And Research Role Are Both At Stake When Regents Vote - 11-19-09

Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’
Changing To ‘Maybe We Can’t’?
- 11-12-09

Review The History Before Renaming A Street; Memories Of Sarah, Our Sweet Senior Dog - 11-05-09

“Socioeconomic Diversity” More Important Then Academic Achievement In “Learning Community”? - 10-29-09

A Visiting Sports Columnist Agrees: ‘There Is No Place Like Nebraska’ - 10-22-09

Might Obama Wish He Had A Chance To Say ‘No, Thanks’ To Early Nobel Prize? - 10-15-09

Don’t Overlook The Variety Of Aid Which Goes To ‘Poverty Level’ Families - 10-08-09

Smorgasbord Today: From UN’s “Nutcake Day” To Obama Performance Here And Abroad - 10-01-09

Must Defense Continue To Cover For Huskers’ Anemic Red Zone Offense? - 09-24-09

'Energizer Bunny' President Continues To Add Proposals For Reform - 09-17-09

Today, Variety: Football, Golf And Why No President Should Televise Himself Into The Nation’s Classrooms - 09-10-09

Massachusetts Gave Kennedy Significant Second Chances - 09-03-09

Obama’s Problem Not Just With GOP
But With A Great Many Americans
- 08-27-09

Tiger Could Use Sportsmanship Lesson—And Less Coverage From Fawning Media - 08-20-09

Gallup ‘Competitive’ Label, If Accurate Long Term, Is Good News Not Only For Nebraska Democrats - 08-13-09

Democrats Go All-Out Negative:
Trash Private Insurance Industry
- 08-06-09

Journalistic Watchdogs Turned Lapdogs When Obama Called That ‘News Conference’ - 07-30-09

Look Back, Mr. President: Opposition Is Catching Up - 07-23-09

Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09

Dems Start Oust-Terry Effort In The Political Gutter - 07-09-09

Despite Liberal Media's Views, Nation Better Served By Viable GOP - 07-02-09

A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09

Freshman President Learning Some Political Realities? - 06-18-09

Voices Of Reason Raised Too Late To Slow Rush To Wind Power? - 06-11-09

Public Will Be Watching Prosecution Of Three Teen-Age Creatures - 06-04-09

Wealthiest Paying Less, In Taxes?
It’s Simply Not True
- 05-28-09

Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson
- 05-21-09

Special-Interest Liberals
Shouldn’t Badger Obama
- 05-14-09

A Surprising Source: Obama
Cites Positive Results of Iraq War
- 05-07-09

Media Transfer Their Love
From Candidate to President
- 04-30-09

Suttle Campaign Subtly Two-Faced? Or ‘Just Politics’? Voters Will Decide - 04-23-09

If America Is "At War
With Islam," It's Self-Defense
- 04-16-09

Seven Iowans Change Marriage
Tradition For 3 Million Others
- 04-09-09

Will Liberal Democrats Continue
Escaping The Verdict Of History?
- 04-02-09

Multi-Focused President
Upsets Even Liberals
- 03-26-09

Richard Nixon—Appropriate To Recall The Good As Well As The Dark Side - 03-19-09

Not Reducing Mortgage Costs; We’re Simply ‘Modifying’ Them - 03-12-09

Fair Warning From NY Times: Obama’s “Breathtaking Plans” Would “Transform American Society” - 03-05-09

A Look At Academy Awards Nastiness, But First A Plug For My Book, “Life With Marian” - 02-26-09

Let’s Not Move Slot Machine Cancer From Iowa Casinos To Nebraska Race Tracks - 02-19-09

Whiteclay Is Wrong Target;
Aim At Alcoholism Problem
- 02-12-09

For The Best “Stimulus” Formula:
Put Economic Recovery First;
“Remaking USA” Can Wait
- 02-05-09

Journalistic Hounds Are Still
In Full Pursuit Of Bush
- 01-29-09

‘First Black President’ Celebration
Shouldn’t Further Distract Us
From Job We And Obama Face
- 01-22-09

‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real
- 01-15-09

Advice For Husker Fans:
Rejoice—But Be Realistic
- 01-08-09

Kennedy Dynasty History
Includes Shameful Chapters
- 12-31-08

Today Some Merry Christmas Thoughts But A Few Political Barbs, Too - 12-24-08

This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty
- 12-18-08

Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So
- 12-11-08

Obama Steers A Moderate Course
But Congressional Democrats Veer Left
- 12-04-08

Too Many "Non-Blessings"
This Thanksgiving Week
- 11-26-08

Let’s Hear More About
The Principal ‘Crisis’ Victims
- 11-20-08

Color-Blind Issues Voting
Showed No Turn To The Left
- 11-13-08

Election Made History
But Big Questions Remain
- 11-06-08

Today, A Choice of Topics:
Politics Or Football—Or Both
- 10-30-08

Splitting Electoral Votes Good Idea? Then Why Do 48 States Reject It? - 10-23-08

Dems Take 11th Hour Low Road
In 2nd Congressional District Race
- 10-16-08

Another Government “Welfare Program,” Bargain Mortgages, Caused The Crisis - 10-09-08

Words Can Lose Their Meaning
When A Government Program Is Involved
- 10-02-08

—Have We Learned This Lesson?— Crisis Results When Individuals, Encouraged By Financial Institutions, Try To Live Beyond Their Means - 9-25-08

Bonds To Build Four-Lane Highways?
Where Would The Money Come From?
- 9-18-08

Today, a Large Load of Political
Commentary After a Brief Plug For
My Book, ‘Life With Marian’
- 9-17-08

Major News Media Look Bad
In Non-Coverage of
Edwards’ Sex Affair Story
- 9-11-08

Disadvantaged Students Can Be
Helped Without Discriminatory ‘Affirmative Action’
- 9-04-08

My Favorite Olympic Champion?
It Wasn’t Michael Phelps
- 8-28-08

Will Chinese Get Away With
'Out Air Is Clean' Scam?
- 8-21-08

Windmills, Solar Won't Do It;
Time To Get Real On Energy
- 8-07-08

I Doubt That God or Jesus
Have Heavenly Money on Either Team
- 8-07-08

‘Pop Star’ Obama Lacks Experience,
McCain Lacks Clear Campaign Strategy
- 7-31-08

Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit?
- 7-24-08

Would Odor of Politics
Taint Fire Chief Choice?
- 7-17-08

Will Hospitality, Qwest Center
Lure Swim Trials Back to Omaha?
- 7-09-08

Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage
- 7-02-08

Omaha's CWS Reputation
Gets New "Rave Reviews"
- 6-25-08

S.D. Vote Could Lead
To National Abortion Battle
- 6-18-08

Don’t Let Niobrara Go The Way
Of The Republican And The Platte
- 6-11-08

Voters Didn’t Impose Term Limits
To Rid Legislature of Chambers
- 6-04-08

“It’s Our Turn” Pitch Might
Not End With Hillary Defeat
- 5-28-08

Prime Nebraska Political
Battleground This Year:
2nd Congressional District
- 5-21-08

The 'Browning' of America:
How Far Will It Go?
- 5-14-08

Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08

"Does Homebuyer Bailout
Reward the Irresponsible?"
- 4-30-08

"Was McCain, Not Clinton,
The Real Winner in Pennsylvania?"
- 4-25-08

"Cleaner Skies Advice For Gore:
Pressure On China, More Nuke
Power If Jane Fonda Will Allow It"
- 4-16-08

"Why The Big Fuss Over
Tiny Gasoline Cost Increase?"
- 4-09-08

"Quietly, Nebraska Yields
All-Public-Power Status"
-  4-02-08

"Obama’s ‘Historic’ Speech Left
Big Questions Unanswered "
-  3-25-08

"Overweight Moore Produces
“Sicko,” Finds An Ally In Creighton Doctor"
-  3-19-08

"Bush Sings, Praises Press
At Annual Gridiron Dinner"
-  3-12-08

"Obama Would Be Least
Formidable Opponent For McCain"
-  3-7-08

"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" -  2-27-08

"Could Citizen ‘Packing Iron’
Have Stopped Von Maur Killings?"
-  2-20-08

"Obama’s Style Without Substance
Exciting, But Is It Presidential?"
-  2-13-08

"Barack Obama and John McCain:
A Major Contrast in Egos? "
-  2-07-08

"‘First Black President’
Emphasis Wouldn’t Help Obama"
-  1-30-08

"Kimball Lauritzen: Think of Her
As Joyous on Some New Dawn"
-  1-23-08

"What 'Tough' Election Contest
Was Ben Nelson Talking About?"
- 1-16-08

"Overhyped New Hampshire
Offsets Overhyped Iowa"
- 1-10-08

"Coach Bo Now Well Welcomed;
Time to Start Thinking of NU Wins"
- 1-2-08

"Words of Jews Most Moving
To Me This Christmas Season"
- 12-25-07

"AT LAST: TALK OF PREVENTION
JOINS MOURNING OVER KILLINGS"
- 12-19-07

"Killer Is Getting Just What He Wanted;
Let's Add Anger and
Action to Our Sorrow"
- 12-12-07

"Bo Brings Emotional Fire to NU Job;
Scary News: Huckabee Gain in Iowa"
- 12-05-07

"Callahan Outclasses Loudmouth Critics;
Tom Osborne Treated Him Fairly"
- 11-28-07

"A Thought for Thanksgiving Day:
Tell Them You Love Them"
- 11-21-07

"Callahan Critics: Is Loss to CU
The Only Way to Satisfy Them?"
- 11-16-07

"Crybaby Fans, Sports Commentators
Distracting Players From Their Job?"
- 11-09-07

"Did Bob Kerrey’s Decision Avoid
the Likelihood of Defeat?"
- 11-02-07

"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls"
- 10-26-07

"Is This The Way to Run UNL´s
Athletic Program?"
- 10-19-07

"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL"
- 10-12-07

"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07

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As I See It
Harold W. Andersen is a retired Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Omaha World-Herald Company. Full biography.

A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)

And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.

First, a reminder:

Attractive, hardbound copies of “Life With Marian”—a book which a good many readers have said they would be interested in owning—are still available for purchase (for $22.50) at The Bookworm in Countryside Village.  If more convenient, you can now also send a check payable to Harold W. Andersen for $26.66 (includes tax and postage) and mail to me at P.O. Box 27347, Omaha, NE, 68127.  A copy will be sent by return mail.

“Socioeconomic Diversity” More Important Then
Academic Achievement In “Learning Community”?

October 29, 2009

What has happened to the concept on which the “learning community” law was sold to civic leadership in Douglas and Sarpy Counties and to the Legislature? 

(I’m not at all sure that the majority of parents and the rest of the public ever did understand exactly what or even approximately what would happen under what seemed to be a generally praiseworthy effort to share the cost of educating children from low income families—primarily blacks and Hispanics—and allow these children the benefits of transfers from their home districts when better learning opportunities are available in other schools within the two-county area.) 

Now almost all we hear about is a quite different “learning community” goal:  something called “socioeconomic diversity” in every one of the nearly 200 public schools in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. 

To reach that goal, a recent news story estimated, about 26,000 students would have to be bused around the two counties daily. 

To what purpose would such busing be directed?  According to a number of reports which have been published recently, the goal would be to create in each school building a mixture of “rich kids” and “poor kids” (that language was actually used in one news story) that would in each of the nearly 200 schools match the supposed metro-area-wide “socioeconomic” mix of the population within the two counties.  According to one recent news story, the yardstick for moving “poor kids” out of their neighborhood schools would be based on the number of school children eligible for free lunches—an estimated 37% in the two counties.

Based on this formula, the goal would be to have 37% of the students in each of nearly 200 school buildings come from families whose children are eligible for free school lunches. 

How in the world would you go about recruiting thousands upon thousands of such youngsters and, presumably with parental approval, putting them on buses each day? 

A goal unattainable and not worth the effort if the objective is primarily to create an arbitrary “socioeconomic” mix in each of the nearly 200 school buildings.

‘Back To Busing’ Under Another Name?

The plan might be called “Back to Busing,” the hugely unpopular court-ordered busing of white and black children in the Omaha School District for 23 years, 1976-1999.  Memories of busing include children standing on street corners waiting to be picked up on cold winter mornings, tensions created in some classrooms, a reduction in the school classroom day to allow for the time spent on busing and widespread opposition, by both white and black parents, to forcing them to send their children away from their neighborhood schools.

Incidentally but fundamentally importantly, the “37% free school lunch” formula for deciding how many “poor kids” have to be bused to sit beside “rich kids” contrasts dramatically with the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimate that the poverty rate in the Omaha metro area remained essentially unchanged at 10.7% in 2008.

My questions and criticisms are not intended to disparage the objective of offering better educational opportunities—not “economic diversity” opportunities—by transferring youngsters within the two counties to classrooms where they can benefit academically. 

You need look no further than my alma mater, Omaha North High School, to see am example of a school where white and black students have come together in significant numbers—come together because white students from throughout the Omaha Public School District have been attracted by the fact that North High School is a “magnet center” for education in the use of computers.  The motivation has been learning opportunities, not “socioeconomic diversity.”

That kind of natural blending of students in pursuit of common academic goals seems to me to be eminently more practical and popular than busing thousands of students each day to classrooms across Douglas and Sarpy Counties with the objective of putting “poor kids” and “rich kids” in the same classrooms.

The Omaha School Board, to its credit, has cautioned against a rush to “socioeconomic” goals rather than academic goals.

Also to the Omaha School District’s credit, the Omaha School Board approved changes at four schools which will offer greater academic opportunities.  Two of the four will become magnet schools which can attract students from across the district.  This, it seems to me, is the kind of “diversity” which will bring students of various racial or economic backgrounds together with the encouragement of both teachers and parents.

* * *

Hal Daub Is Right On Target:
Don’t Rush To Street-Naming Honors

Right on, Hal Daub, right on. 

A tip of my columnist cap to the former mayor for saying that he doesn’t think a street or any portion thereof should be named for a recent mayor.  More time should pass, Daub reasons, until a former mayor’s full lifetime of work can be evaluated.

Daub was reacting, of course, to an idea which started with a proposal to rename seven blocks of Webster Street for Mike Fahey, who left office earlier this year.  This would be based on the fact that Fahey handled negotiations which resulted in the construction of a new downtown ballpark and an agreement with the NCAA to keep the College World Series in Omaha for another 25 years.  The renamed section of Webster Street would parallel the new ballpark.

The Fahey naming proposal resulted in a suggestion from a Daub political associate that a portion of 10th Street in front of the Qwest Center carry Daub’s name because of his support of construction of the center.  Let’s hope that Daub’s rational rejection of the proposal will result also in withdrawal of the Fahey street-naming proposal. 

Incidentally, are any of the proponents of substituting Fahey’s name for a seven-block stretch of Webster Street interested in knowing anything about the man named Webster who was honored years ago in the naming of Webster Street?

None of the television or print accounts which have come to my attention have mentioned the man whose name would be linked with Fahey’s.

I know the answer, but I think I’ll wait a week to see if it occurs to anyone in the local news media to report any part of the interesting story of the man for whom Webster Street was named.  You can read that story here next week.

* * *

Goal Should Be More Informed
Voters, Not Simply Larger Turnout

Count me among those Nebraskans, including Secretary of State John Gale, who are skeptical of the idea, being pushed by State Senator Bill Avery of Lincoln, to allow election-day voter registration in Nebraska. 

Avery argues that this would increase voter participation. 

I’m not interested in participation by voters too lazy or too disinterested to register before Election Day.  Earlier registration gives election officials time to process the information, raise challenges if appropriate and get the information out to the various polling places.

We don’t need simply more numbers turning out on Election Day.  We need more voters interested enough to register in advance and go to the polls as interested, informed voters.

* * *

‘Hate Crime’ Bill Is Another Example
Of Unneeded ‘Feel Good’ Legislation

Why do legislative bodies waste so much time dealing with what might be called “feel good” legislation which is sought by this or that special-interest group? 

Such proposals would perhaps be harmless, since they aren’t likely to make any real change in real life situations.  But they can take up a good deal of legislative time and create needless divisive debate over issues of questionable importance or even questionable constitutionality.

A current example is the proposed “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act,” which President Obama says he intends to sign.

Shepard, a homosexual college student, was beaten to death in Wyoming.  Byrd, a black hitchhiker, was dragged to death behind a pickup truck in Texas.  Bigotry seems to have played a role in both crimes.

But, as columnist Jacob Sullum recently pointed out, without the benefit of any federal law aimed at bias-motivated violence, the killers in each of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd deaths were arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison or death—“all without the benefit of hate-crime laws, state or federal.” 

As to the constitutionality of a federal statute on the subject, Sullum points out that as the United States Supreme Court has noted, the federal government has no general authority to fight crime. 

The “hate crime” legislation pending in Congress goes so far to try to avoid constitutional challenge that it specifies that it would apply to any so-called “hate crime” which in any way involves or “affects” interstate commerce even if the connection is limited to a weapon made in another state or country.

Can a so-called “hate crime” legally or rationally be found to be involved in “interstate commerce”?  That stretches the rationale for this particular piece of “feel good” legislation well beyond the bounds of credibility, especially when the killers of the victims for whom the legislation is named were convicted and sentenced to either life in prison or death without the need for even state “hate crime” laws.

* * *

Kansas ‘Ball Of Twine’ City Fathered
A Noteworthy Nebraska Family

A recent World-Herald editorial had fun with the topic of various communities strange claims to fame—or at least notoriety. 

Mentioned, for example, was Carhenge—the tourist magnet just outside Alliance in western Nebraska, recently named second-wackiest place to visit in the nation by a fun-trip website. 

Other wacky tourist attractions listed in the editorial were the “Minnesota Twine Ball” in Darwin, 12 feet in diameter and 17,400 pounds.  The World-Herald pointed out that the people who chose this Minnesota pretender to the ball-of-twine throne apparently didn’t know about the Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas.

The Cawker City Ball of Twine weighs 17,980 pounds and is 40 feet in circumference.  “Stay tuned for developments in the Kansas/Minnesota “twine-ball wars” the editorial said.

Members of our family are certainly aware of Cawker City’s world champion Ball of Twine.  But more important to us than any ball of twine, famous as it may be, is, of course, the fact that Cawker City, Kansas was the boyhood home of Charles Weaton Battey, father of my wife, Marian, and her brother, C. W. Battey, Jr. of Kansas City. 

Wheaton Battey came north to Lincoln, Nebraska to attend the University of Nebraska, met and married Freda Drath of Herndon, Kansas who had also come to Lincoln to attend the university, and stayed on to become a civic and business leader, serving as president of the Continental National Bank and chairman of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce as well as an early member of the board of trustees of the University of Nebraska Foundation.

Both Marian and her brother Chuck, both graduates of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, have made their own marks in the world of civic service.

I question whether Darwin, Minnesota, the home of that smaller ball of twine, can offer a similar family success story.

# # #

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