Archive for November, 2011

A new Benz for city traffic division?

A new Benz for city traffic division?

New cargo van to cost city $45k worth of loose change

 

UPDATE, 11/30: Take a look at The World-Herald’s more detailed story on the purchase.

The traffic division of the city’s Public Works Department needed a pretty specific piece of equipment — a 3/4-ton, walk-in cargo van.

So, it did what the city usually does: solicited bids from the area with a seven-page list of requirements. Except no one replied with a proposal by the Oct. 5 due date.

Then, city documents say, the city’s Mercedes dealership stepped in with a proposal it intended to submit — but failed to do on time.

Normally, late bids aren’t accepted. But, again, this is a pretty specific piece of equipment.

Mercedes’ quoted price? $44,899. The money to pay for the van comes from the city’s parking meter fund. Yep, your spare change.

The City Council unanimously approved the expenditure last week.

By the way, the estimated build price for a basic version of the same cargo van, according to Mercedes, is $36,290 $38,645 (The last price listed was for a slightly shorter model with roof clearance that didn’t quite meet city specifications). The city also asked for a couple of upgrades.

We’ll have more details in tomorrow’s newspaper.

November 29, 2011 Comments Read More
Occupy Omaha charges being dropped

Occupy Omaha charges being dropped

City prosecutor dropping charges against three protesters.

 

City Prosecutor Marty Conboy will drop charges against three Occupy Omaha protestors who were arrested when the protests were on a city-owned lot at 24th and Farnam Streets.

Staff writer Roseann Moring reports that Occupy Omaha and the city “have been cooperating in discussions on where the group can locate.” A federal lawsuit is pending, seeking to grant protesters access to 24th and Farnam.

“I think everyone has made it clear since these arrests that it’s not the intention of these parties to break the law,” Conboy said.

November 29, 2011 Comments Read More
Harney trail: Yea or nea?

Harney trail: Yea or nea?

Love it? Hate it?

 

The commenters at Omaha.com have a lot to say about the idea of turning part of Harney Street into a bike trail.

The reaction there is mostly positive. But not universally so.

CRM is in favor: “This would be incredible. It would be useful. It would lessen the danger of traveling from midtown to downtown on bike by leaps and bounds.”

Jason likes the idea: “I think this is an awesome idea and would love to see this happen. Omaha is in desperate need of alternate form of transportation, This would be a great way to spark development in an otherwise underutilized area!”

HuskerDave opposes it: “Sorry to disappoint the virtually tens of bicyclists who might actually use such a trail, but Omaha will never be Amsterdam.”

‘Horrible idea’ is against: “So we are going to spend millions of dollars for bike lanes in Omaha when we have snow 4 to 5 months out of the year? Omaha will never have thousands of bike commuters going to work each day.”

What do you think? Sound off.

November 28, 2011 Comments Read More
Sssssshhhhh…

Sssssshhhhh…

Omaha’s business community is worried about the city’s revised noise ordinance.

“We are concerned with the unknown affect this could have on a number of Omaha employers and the potential to lead to job losses in the city, concern that is highlighted by today’s fragile economy,” wrote David Brown, head of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, in a letter to the council.

Leaders of the city’s Planning Department say they’re willing to make additional revisions to the ordinance to ease concerns from the business community, but are the new rules likely to be challenged in court

Here’s a rundown of some provisions contained in the city’s revised ordinance, unanimously approved by the City Council last week:

November 28, 2011 Comments Read More
Carving out space for bikes

Carving out space for bikes

Harney Street could become part street, part trail.

 

Omaha transportation planners have an idea that would totally transform the look of Harney Street from downtown to midtown.

They are looking at the possibility of giving over a lane on Harney Street to a bike trail. It’s just conceptual, but it’s an idea with traction.

November 28, 2011 Comments Read More
Huskers win Habitat house for Omaha

Huskers win Habitat house for Omaha

Nebraska’s football victory over Iowa won’t take the Huskers to a conference championship or BCS bowl, but there is some good news.

Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan, his staff and the Council Bluffs chapter of Habitat for Humanity will build a house on the Omaha side of the Missouri River on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Mayor Jim Suttle and Hanafan met at the middle of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge last week to bet on Friday’s Husker/Hawkeye match. Had Nebraska lost, Suttle and Omaha representatives would’ve built a house in the Bluffs.

Suttle’s office said the purpose of the bet was to raise awareness of the need for affordable housing in both cities.

UPDATE 11/28: The house is likely to be built in the area of 38th and Seward. Suttle and Hanafan plan to speak by phone this afternoon about plans to build Habitat houses on both sides of the river.

November 25, 2011 Comments Read More
City gun rules adjusted

City gun rules adjusted

It now costs $15 to register a handgun in Omaha, not $10.

 

Here’s a rundown of revisions to the city’s gun laws, approved by the City Council at Tuesday’s meeting.

  • A “concealable firearm” is now defined by the city as a weapon with an overall length of less than 26 inches. The old definition was a firearm with a barrel length of less than 18 inches.
  • Explicit language stating those complying with state laws under the Concealed Handgun Permit Act are exempt from city handgun registration requirements.
  • Legal immigrants are now formally cleared to register their weapons. Monday, a federal judge granted an injunction to allow legal immigrants that right while it mulls over whether that part of the law is constitutional.
  • Those otherwise exempt from mandatory registration are allowed to voluntarily register their firearms with the city, free of charge.
  • Everyone else has to pay $15 to register handguns, not $10.
November 23, 2011 Comments Read More
Suttle gives thanks

Suttle gives thanks

In his 2011 Thanksgiving Day message, Mayor Jim Suttle said he’s thankful for the opportunity to continue serving Omaha.

“I have faced a number of challenges in my time as mayor, but it has strengthened by faith in this community and its ability to work together for the greater good.”

November 23, 2011 Comments Read More
Holiday Lights growing

Holiday Lights growing

The Holiday Lights Festival is expanding to north and south Omaha

 

Downtown Omaha’s Holiday Lights Festival is expanding to north and south Omaha.

Festival organizers announced the expansion this afternoon. Starting this Friday, trees will be lit on 24th Street between L and Q Streets in south Omaha and at the Martin Luther King and Love’s Jazz plazas at 24th and Lake Streets in north Omaha.

The downtown lights will be lit at a ceremony on Thanksgiving evening at 6 p.m. Mayor Jim Suttle will hold a brief lighting ceremony at south Omaha’s La Plaza de la Raza, near 24th and N Streets, at 7 p.m. on Friday.

At all three locations, the lights will turn on every evening through Jan. 8. The expansion was funded through an anonymous donor.

November 22, 2011 Comments Read More
Marathon meeting?

Marathon meeting?

Looks like today will be a long one for the City Council.

Changes to the city’s noise and gun laws are part of the agenda today, two issues that have been contentious when they’ve come before the council in the past.

A vote on the noise ordinance was delayed earlier this month amid concerns from the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and industrial businesses about the law’s impact on local businesses. City officials said today that they listened, but didn’t make substantive revisions to the proposal. Expect amendments from council members to clear up language that otherwise puts iconic outdoor city events — think CWS and neighborhood festivals — at risk of violating the law.

The city has had a noise ordinance in place since 1987. But last spring, a Douglas County judge struck down the law as vague after code enforcers cited Omaha Track Materials for noise caused by the destruction of railroad ties near 132nd and C Streets. Residents of the Westwood Heights neighborhood have pleaded with city officials to pass the ordinance to stop what they say is excessive noise.

A legal battle over the law could be on the horizon. More changes to the law could also be coming, even after it’s passed.

November 22, 2011 Comments Read More