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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.)
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October 2, 2008
When the subject is governmental programs, words sometimes lose their meaning or are used in a way to make a questionable objective sound more appealing. A couple of local examples:
The City of Omaha has a program mandating “protected contractor” status for applicants for city-financed contracts if the applicant is black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander (author’s note: that’s right, “Pacific Islander”) or American Indian.
To the understandable chagrin of some white contractors who say they could submit lower bids if they didn’t have to guarantee awarding subcontracts to “protected contractors” under a “Protected Business Enterprise Program.”
Isn’t there something of a conflict here between the words “protected” and “enterprise”? Doesn’t true entrepreneurial spirit flourish best under reasonable governmental restriction and support but without need for special race-based or gender-based “protection”?
Then there is the matter of the Bellevue City Council’s pursuit of $336,000 from the Nebraska Department of Roads to fund 80% of the cost of decorative street lighting along both sides of Mission Avenue.
The state funds would come as “a transportation enhancement grant.” How in the world could decorative lighting be considered to be enhancing transportation along Mission Avenue in Bellevue?
A Bellevue city spokesman said he has received positive feedback from state representatives. The spokesman also said that the city is “going with the Abbott Road philosophy, only with historic lights.”
The difference, of course, is that the Abbott Drive lights, which do indeed make the link between downtown Omaha and Eppley Airfield more attractive, were paid for by private funds from the Peter Kiewit Foundation, not from public “transportation enhancement” money.
Incidentally, but importantly, a recent news story said that the city’s “Protected Business Enterprise Program” could be adversely affected if Nebraskans on November 4 adopt the proposed state constitutional ban on race-based and gender-based affirmative action (for which read “preferential treatment”). The headline read: “Ban could flip fates of contractors.”
If you read until paragraphs 41 and 42 of the 51-paragraph story, you learned that under the new constitutional language, the city could still take income-level and location into account and that, according to a city government spokesman, “the reality is that there will be ways to work around the ban and encourage minority participation.”
This brings to mind a statement from University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman that even if the anti-affirmative action constitutional amendment is adopted in November, UNL will still find ways to encourage “diversity” in terms of more non-white students and more non-white and female faculty members.
(Perlman and other University of Nebraska officials have made clear that they oppose the proposed constitutional amendment which, interestingly, is supported by some faculty members who feel that faculty hiring and promotion should be based on merit, not influenced by color or gender.)
* * *
Let’s stop pretending that it’s a bridge which will attract significant numbers of people from one side of the river to the other side to dine, drink, gamble, golf, work or whatever. It won’t.
But Omaha, and to a lesser extent Council Bluffs, lucked out when private contributions helped finance a redesign of the plans for the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.
Adding those “dazzling” towers and lighting led to talk of the Missouri River bridge becoming something of a symbol of the City of Omaha’s resurgent riverfront and downtown redevelopment and multiple close-to-the-river attractions. It also makes an eye-catching attraction for Iowa-bound traffic on adjacent to Interstate 480. (Nearly all the major Iowa side attractions are a considerable distance from the bridge.)
The bridge offers interesting observation points, and it appeals to hikers and especially bikers, who originated the idea of the bridge and convinced then Senator Kerrey to secure a Federal “earmark” of $19 million to build the span.
But in terms of a bridge that is the most efficient way to move significant numbers of people back and forth across a stream because there is something they want to do on the other side, this might be called something of a local version of a “bridge to nowhere,” dazzling as it may be.
Unless, of course, you are a biker who wants to connect in Iowa with the famed Wabash Trail 12 miles to the southeast. Or a golfer who wants to tote a bag across the bridge and play a round at Dodge Riverside Golf Club—perhaps on a Tuesday when, according to a World-Herald “Bridge to Adventure” map published last Sunday, the golf club’s Riverside Grille features an “Xtreme Carb Night.”
* * *
Add personal pet peeves:
The sportswriters who assume you know as much about the intricacies of football offenses and defenses—and sports personalities, sometimes minor personalities—as they do.
For example, in a recent news story about Nebraska Cornhusker football team defenses, the reader was exposed to such expressions as a “nickel” defense and “the nickel slot.”
There was a reference to the “nickel” defense involving a fifth defensive back. But no explanation as to what change you make in the whole overall defensive alignment if you send in a “nickel” back. If you add a “nickel” back, don’t you have to subtract some other kind of back?
I’ve heard some Cornhusker fans who talk knowledgeably about these things, but some of us enjoy going to the games without feeling we have to know the intricacies of the various defensive alignments and the jargon that goes with them.
One thing I can say with authority about the Cornhuskers’ defensive schemes in last Saturday’s 35-30 loss to Virginia Tech: They sure didn’t work.
Another news media irritation:
We read that Keith Olbermann has been removed from a co-anchor’s role on MSNBC’s election coverage as has his partner Chris Matthews. But there is no mention as to who or what either Olbermann or Matthews were favoring with their partisan election coverage.
Another media performance complaint, this one of greater substance than half-explained or unexplained defensive football formations, or anything said, partisan or nonpartisan, by such TV personalities as Keith Olbermann or Chris Matthews:
Barack Obama has been allowed to get away, time after time, with charging that John McCain has favored “privatizing Social Security;” clearly suggesting that McCain would replace the present Social Security system with investment of funds in the stock market. The truth:
The proposal is to allow employees eligible for Social Security coverage to opt, at their own choice, to put into a stock market investment account a portion of the funds that would otherwise go into their Social Security account. This, insofar as I know, is as far as John McCain has gone in the direction of so-called “privatizing” Social Security.
I repeat, the choice would be entirely that of the employee and would involve only a portion of Social Security taxes. Significant but never mentioned by today’s liberals is the fact that the idea has solid liberal roots. It was first given widespread public exposure by the late, liberal, widely-respected Senator Patrick Moynihan, New York Democrat, and was endorsed at one time by another liberal, Nebraska’s own former Senator Bob Kerry.
* * *
My love for our three cocker spaniels—I like my hunting dogs a lot, too—notwithstanding, I find it hard to understand why some people are expressing so much sympathy for a dog breed which all too often turns vicious.
I’m talking about the pit bull, of course.
It seems to me that the ordinance passed by the City Council Tuesday moves clearly in the right direction, especially in the provision that dangerous dogs will have to be muzzled and on a leash in public.
But one hopes that there isn’t a potentially dangerous loophole in the provision that dogs which have passed a Human Society “behavioral test” will not have to be muzzled.
Dogs which pass the Humane Society behavioral test would be designated “breed ambassadors.” Each would wear a yellow vest in public to let people know it had passed the test.
I’m not sure I understand how you can guarantee that a yellow-vested dog won’t attack someone.
* * *
Speaking of our three cocker spaniels, 14-year-old Sarah continues to show a loyalty that both Marian and I find especially touching.
Her younger “sisters”—four-year-old Charlotte and six-year-old Claire—are surely not lacking in loyalty, but Sarah has a special way of demonstrating that characteristic which so endears dogs to their owners. (Okay, pit bull owners, I hear you. But I think that loyal cocker spaniels are considerably safer to be around than loyal pit bulls).
In the evening, I frequently go down to our basement exercise room for some time on the treadmill. Almost without exception, when Sarah knows I have gone to the basement, she will settle down at the head of the basement stairs, waiting for my return.
On other occasions, when Sarah notices the basement light is on and she can’t find me anywhere else, she assumes that I’m in the basement and settles down at the head of the stairs. Neither Sarah nor I either tire of the routine.
Some of you may have already guessed that I usually reward Sarah with a treat. But what the heck—in those televised programs showing Westminster Kennel Club dog show dog performances in Madison Square Garden each year, I’ve seen owners regularly reward their dogs for a good performance. Why should I do anything less for Sarah?
I know I’m prejudiced like other dog owners, but at least one thing I can say quite candidly about our three lovable cocker spaniels: They don’t have to go to a Humane Society class to learn to be “breed ambassadors.” (And they wouldn’t look at all good in yellow.)
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