Do you think Mayor Stothert missed me?

This blog has been laser-focused on politics in Nebraska with very little in the way of personal information, but I have to explain why I’ve been so absent. In the span of the last month, I switched to a really time-intensive new job right at crunch time for my other job (while still having a third one). But rest assured, I’m not calling quits! Sorry, Mayor Stothert!

And speaking of my favorite gag-ordering, public-service-shredding, deceitful-campaigning, immigrant-hating, LGBTQ-discriminating public servant… 

Stothert proposed a property tax “cut.” Calling this property tax reduction a “cut” is like calling a papercut “massive hemorrhaging.” If your home is valued at $200,000, you save $20. For real. 20 bucks. If your home is the average value in Omaha, around 150K, you save $15. So what’s the point? Why do it? Well, it’s so she can say in the next election cycle that she “cut property taxes.” It will be true. It just won’t have mattered to anyone.

So why is this a big deal? Because $15 in a year won’t make a difference to most Omahans, but the $2.7 million that will be removed from the city budget could have been used to help the city in so many other ways. So City Councilman Ben Gray is trying to block the cut (a BALLSY move, as it will sound terribly unpopular) in favor of doing the following:

  • Street Repairs: $1 million.
  • Libraries: $257,871 for more books, videos and other non-personnel items.
  • Police overtime: $250,000.
  • Bike Czar: $87,448
  • Great Plains Black History Museum: $40,000

Don’t get me wrong, I love the police overtime and the street repairs. However, we have budget for those things already. Last night, another person was killed and two others were shot. Mayor Stothert and others of her ilk talk relentlessly about increased policing and making sure we “put criminals behind bars.” I haven’t ever heard her talk about prevention. At least, not REAL prevention.

Two things reduce crime rates more than anything else:

1.) Education opportunities

2.) Employment

Imagine if you could use that $2.7 million for scholarships for at-risk teens. Or for training programs to get people in North Omaha to work (remember, unemployment in our city is below 4%…provided you don’t live in North Omaha, where it’s in double digits). Think of the after-school programs, the apprenticing opportunities, the literally hundreds of different programs that could be used to educate and employ people who would otherwise likely find themselves in trouble with the law.

I respect Councilman Gray’s gigantic cajones in trying to fight a tax decrease. But if he gets it, I sincerely hope that money goes to the things that matter more than potholes. I’ll gladly drive over bumpy roads if we used the money to help people in our city have a better life and be safe. 

So, I put it to you: Omaha doesn’t have a huge social media climate, but I know lots of folks from the area on “the twitter” (as the kids call it). I’m going to try to start a hashtag: #realchangenotpocketchange 

I want to use that to hear what you think we SHOULD do with the $2.7 million that Mayor Stothert wants to dole out in $15 chunks to people who don’t need it. I also encourage you to back Councilman Gray. It’s so easy to stand up and say “I’m cutting taxes.” It’s far harder to stand up and say “No, you’re really not, and we need that money elsewhere.”  There is a City Council Meeting this Tuesday at 2 pm. He could probably use some support. 


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