Let’s Turn Now To Non-Emotional,
Non-‘Cosmetic’ Major City Problems

Some thoughts that occurred as I read the extensive news coverage of the controversy over whether Omaha needs a city ordinance protecting homosexuals, lesbians, bisexual individuals and transgender individuals against discrimination in the workplace or in service at restaurants, hotels and other places where the public is served.

I kept looking for some testimony that such discrimination now occurs.  I decided that the argument for such an ordinance was something of a case of a solution looking for a problem.

I did not read of a single example which was cited as evidence that such discrimination is a current problem.

The frequently emotional arguments, as I saw it, had more to do with what might be called cosmetics—creating an image which indicates our city is officially on record as opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

I read more than once that Omaha was one of a dwindling number of cities which have not adopted some such government policy.

I was not impressed by some of the pro-ordinance arguments, such as the testimony of a young Omahan who said:  “I live in fear.  This fear comes from others who may discriminate against me merely because I am a transgender man.”

His testimony would have had been more persuasive if he had cited at least one case in which he has been discriminated against.

Okay For Religious Organizations, ’Hateful’ For Others?

Religious organizations are exempt from provisions of the ordinance.  What irony.  It’s alright, in the view of the majority of the Omaha City Council, for a religious organization to disapprove of other than normal sexual orientation so long as such disapproval is a part of your religion’s beliefs.

I didn’t read of any persuasive argument in support of this exemption proposed by Councilman Ben Gray, who introduced the ordinance.

Councilman Gray was certainly off target, as I see it, with this emotional language:

“If you have people who are intent on discriminating, what is a ‘voluntary approach’ going to solve.  If we feel strongly about scorn, hatred and violence, then we need to say so strongly by passing an ordinance that prohibits this kind of behavior in the workplace.”

If Councilman Gray has any evidence of people who are “intent on discriminating” or any evidence of “scorn, hatred or violence” directed at people on the basis of their sexual orientation, he should have offered that evidence at the public hearing.

It seems to me that Council member Jean Stothert, who voted against the ordinance, took a realistic view of the matter:  “You can be against this ordinance and you can also believe that people should be treated with respect and dignity.  And to say anything else would not be fair.  I think that you cannot legislate and tell people how to think.”

At the end of the too emotional debate, Omaha may have had some cosmetics applied to its image nationally.  But opponents are left with their religious objections and the concern that the ordinance will give protection against appropriate discipline in the workplace or appropriate refusal to offer service if behavior merits the refusal of service.

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Real City Problems Await Attention:
Pension Debt, Federal Sewer Mandate

Time for City Hall to focus on non-emotional issues—problems like what to do about the multi-million-pension fund debt and how to reduce the cost of the federal mandate for a new sewer system that separates storm water runoff from the sanitary sewage system.

The sewer-separation, billion-dollar-plus project with which the city must deal, is yet another example of a federal agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, running almost at large.

Consider on a practical basis—which is a level of consideration which the EPA rarely reached—the sewer problem:

The billion-dollar-plus separation of storm water and sanitary sewage is an example of a Federal mandate involving, in the opinion of some qualified observers, a situation in which no serious problem exists.

There are a limited number of occasions when heavy rainfall results in a mixture of rainwater runoff and sanitary sewage bypassing the city’s sewage treatment plant.  And there is expert opinion that on such occasions, the concentration of the rainwater/sanitary sewage mix would be rapidly reduced below any hazardous level by the diluting effect of the huge volume of a relatively fast-flowing Missouri River water into which a mixture of rainwater and sanitary sewage would be, on infrequent occasion, introduced into the river.

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 Santorum, Obama Both Disappointed By Illinois Results

Mitt Romney’s victory Tuesday in Illinois was bad news for both Rick Santorum and Barack Obama.

As I see it, too little attention has been paid to the fact that Santorum would clearly be a less formidable presidential nominee than would be (will be?) Mitt Romney.

Tea Party GOP conservatives and religious “evangelicals” aren’t going to choose a president of the United States.

The November outcome must appeal to the moderates in both parties and independents in the expanding middle ground of American politics.

Santorum still found some comfort in the fact that he ran well in downstate Illinois and “the area that conservative and Republicans populate.”

Areas like that, candidate Santorum, aren’t going to decide the presidential election.

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Continued Control Of That Other House,
Not Just White House, Important To GOP

Memo to news media people, so intensely focused on activities of President Obama on the left and Romney, Santorum, et al, on the right:

What, nationwide, are the prospects for which party controls the House and the Senate after next November’s voting?

I think a case can be made that the GOP should be putting a great effort into retaining control of the House, while it seems to be concentrating on capturing the White House.

Admittedly, only retaining control of the House would be considered something of a rear guard or fallback position for the GOP.  But control of the House since 2010 has demonstrated that control there can be a very important deterrent to President Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and their supporters’ efforts to increase federal government spending and federal government influence over the lives of Americans.

Over-concentration on winning the White House could divert attention also from GOP efforts to win control of the Senate.  Here again a realistic fallback position would be to assure that Democrats do not have a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority.

Not to be forgotten is the critical importance of Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson’s 60th vote which provided the opening for Congressional approval of controversial legislation at the core of Obama-initiated proposals which increased the annualfederal deficit and federal debt to record levels.

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Kerrey’s Career Choices Considered Or Pursued
Have Ranged From Pharmacy To Presidency

Continuing a review of Bob Kerrey’s record of career changes—or consideration of career changes—a review prompted by his latest change—from not being a candidate for returning to the Senate from Nebraska to, 20 days later, saying that he will be a candidate.

Dropping from the political scene for two years after deciding in 1986 not to seek a second term as governor, Kerrey decided to re-enter politics by running for the Senate.  The opportunity was too attractive for the politically ambitious Kerrey to resist.

David Karnes, Governor Kay Orr’s appointee, to replace deceased Senator Edward Zorinsky, had not been in public office long enough to build a significant following.  Former Governor Kerrey defeated Karnes by some 100,000 votes in 1988.

After a four-year term as governor of a small-population Midwestern state and two years experience as a freshman United States Senator, Kerrey decided to run for president.

Kerrey was on the Democratic presidential primary ballot in seven states.  He won in South Dakota but lost in six other states.  He finished third in New Hampshire, fourth in Colorado, fourth in Georgia, fifth in Maryland, fifth in North Dakota, fifth in Oklahoma and fifth in Utah.

In Seven-State Vote Totals, Kerrey Next To Last

In overall vote totals, Kerrey ran fourth behind Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, California Governor Jerry Brown and Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas.  He received 318,457 votes, 1.58% of those cast in those seven Democratic primaries.

Kerrey decided against running for a third Senate term and in 2001 became president of the New York City-located New School, formerly known as the New School for Social Research.  There followed a decade which included a faculty vote of censure and violent protest by some students as Kerrey made what he considered necessary changes in the organization of the institution, which at his suggestion was renamed the New University.

During his time at the helm of the New School, later the New University, Kerrey let it be known that he was considering running for mayor of New York City.  He decided against it.

Kerrey served until nearly the expiration of his 10-year contract at the New University, then signed an agreement to become chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America.  But a disagreement soon followed, and Kerrey ended that affiliation after about a month.

In total, in the 46 years since his graduation from the University of Nebraska where he majored in pharmacy, Kerrey has made or considered or tried some 12 career changes.

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Tucker Takes Charge In The Wrieth Household

Over the years, the largest volume of favorable response to my writings has come from people who like to hear stories about love affairs between people and their dogs (including, of course, the Andersens’ love affair with the world’s most lovable cocker spaniels).

So today an updated report on another such love affair, this between my assistant Jackie Wrieth and her husband Don and their two mixed breeds, Sophie and Tucker.  (This report comes complete with pictures at the end of the column.)

Sophie, a puppy mill survivor, was adopted first from a remarkable organization, Hearts United for Animals in Auburn, Nebraska (donations are gratefully accepted).  Tucker arrived a year later, also adopted from HUA, and had an immediate positive effect on the other members of the Wrieth household, including Jackie and Don and, importantly, Sophie, who had been lovable but somewhat reserved, more introverted, you might say.

Tucker almost immediately convinced Sophie that he was her pal and she should have fun with him.  Sophie is still less outgoing, but she is obviously having more fun, responding to Tucker’s continuing invitations for her to come play with him.

Below are pictures of Sophie (on the left) and Tucker.  One picture represents the first time they have posed together for a portrait to be shared with my readers.

The other picture shows the length to which Jackie has gone to accommodate the new canine partners.  It is a picture taken from in front of the Wrieth residence, showing how the wooden blinds have been altered to provide peep space so the two canine pals can monitor activity in the street in front of the Wrieths’ home.  Jackie created an opening in the blinds when she discovered the two pals were sitting behind a sofa, watching the passing parade by pushing their heads under the bottom of the wooden blinds.

The spot behind the sofa has also become a collecting point for some of Tucker’s toys, including occasionally a pair of Jackie’s shoes.


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