Archive for June, 2012

Who you got?

Who you got?

I’m now taking your bets on the upcoming mayor’s race.

June 28, 2012 Comments Read More
Proposal seeks to sober up liquor rules

Proposal seeks to sober up liquor rules

A three-pronged plan to give the city sweeping regulatory power over liquor sales is in the works.

It’s a bit of legal wrangling that would allow the city to use its zoning laws to enforce liquor regulations.

Omaha could impose new limits on the number of businesses allowed to sell alcohol in designated areas of the city or impose other restrictions. The draft ordinance, which could soon go before the City Council, would establish a $75 fee for alcohol retailers and also allow the city to revoke the occupancy certificate for businesses that don’t comply with the proposed rules.  The city’s liquor retailers would also have to conform with a set of “nuisance prevention standards.”

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Is this a reckless expansion of government power, or a crafty way to exert more control over a serious problem?

Click ‘Read More’ to see the full draft of the ordinance (Note: it’s really long. We’ve bolded some interesting parts)

June 26, 2012 Comments Read More
Tasers, ‘leg strikes’ and the use of force

Tasers, ‘leg strikes’ and the use of force


On Sunday, The World-Herald reported new information about the decision to reinstate an Omaha police officer for her involvement in the videotaped arrest shown above.

Officer Jackie Dolinsky was fired for her role in the fight. A labor arbitrator later reinstated her, saying a lack of proof provided by the surveillance video and other evidence helped overturn Dolinsky’s termination.

Documents we obtained also briefly note a method of Taser use that’s received some negative attention from law enforcement policy wonks.

June 25, 2012 Comments Read More
Pyro sales fire up

Pyro sales fire up

Fourth of July fireworks sales kick off Monday at more than 80 locations around the Omaha metropolitan area.

Sales of fireworks approved by the Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s Office are allowed from 8 a.m. Monday through 11:59 p.m. on July 4.

Click ‘Read More’ to see a complete list of organizations authorized to sell fireworks.

June 25, 2012 Comments Read More
37,000 sports fans. One city. Is Omaha ready?

37,000 sports fans. One city. Is Omaha ready?

Huge sports weekend on its way to the metro


Our pal Erin Golden has an interesting take on the metro’s weekend sports bonanza.

From a traffic point of view, at least, Omaha’s nearly three-week-long stretch as a sports hot spot will hit its apex early next Monday evening.

That’s when up to 24,000 baseball fans will head to their seats at TD Ameritrade Park for what could be the final game of the College World Series. A couple of blocks away, close to 13,000 swimming fans will settle in for the first night of Olympic Swim Trials. Plus, thousands of visitors will fill restaurants and bars in and around the venues and tailgate outside the ballpark.

Will Omaha be ready? Organizers say they are.

June 19, 2012 Comments Read More
Here is your CWS information clearinghouse

Here is your CWS information clearinghouse

Fans should plan ahead to save time at this year's tournament


The most wonderful time of the year has arrived, if you’re a college baseball fan.

We know getting into and out of TD Ameritrade Park during the College World Series can be a bit of a logistical challenge.

That’s why your friends at The Hall have compiled some of the most important information you’ll need to have a fun visit. Most of this information comes courtesy of the city’s Public Works Department, Police Department and the NCAA. Use the map posted after the jump to find your way around.

You should also pick up Friday’s print editions of The World-Herald to get a 24-page section covering the 2012 College World Series. Click here to find a newspaper near you. Plus, stick with’s CWS page for the latest throughout the tournament.

June 14, 2012 Comments Read More
Suttle 2013?

Suttle 2013?

Mayor appears set to announce re-election bid


UPDATE, 7:00 p.m.: It got pretty loud inside the Old Mattress Factory’s party room as Mayor Jim Suttle formally announced his re-election bid for 2013.

“Jim Suttle and my administration still have much to offer the City of Omaha,” Suttle said. “Our journey will continue.”

Several high profile political figures joined the party, including Douglas County Treasurer and congressional candidate John Ewing, restaurateur Willy Theisen, City Councilman Ben Gray and a contingent of Suttle’s cabinet members and staff.

Today’s bash wasn’t solely designed to be a celebration — it was also a chance for Suttle to fill his campaign coffers.

Some donors wrote checks of $2,500 or more at the event.


Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle is widely expected to announce a fresh mayoral campaign this evening.

We’ll be at the Old Mattress Factory grill and bar in a few minutes to observe what’s been publicly billed as a ‘campaign-related announcement’ during Suttle’s birthday bash/fundraiser.

Suttle, a Democrat, turns 68 on Wednesday.

The 2013 election might seem to be a ways off (and, really, it is) but other potential candidates are beginning to make their first moves.

State Sen. Brad Ashford is currently Suttle’s only official opponent, for now anyway.

Stay with and The Hall for updates.

June 12, 2012 Comments Read More
Good news, bad news for OFD

Good news, bad news for OFD


Another of our Lincoln-based comrades, Joe Duggan, reports the Omaha Fire Department lost an appeal before the Nebraska Supreme Court to restore its ‘fill the boot’ campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The Omaha City Council put an end to on-the-clock fund-raising by city employees in 2009. The next year, the city’s stance was backed by the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, which said soliciting funds for nonprofits violated state law when done by public employees while they are being paid with taxpayer funds.

Bad news for the department. But it heard brighter words from state auditor Mike Foley earlier this week. Foley voiced big praise for the city’s steps to clean up the Fire Department’s payroll system.

That wasn’t the case last time the auditor got involved with the city and its Fire Department. In October 2010, Foley’s office concluded the department had almost no internal controls over its payroll process. Documentation for payments was “woefully inadequate,” the auditor’s office said, creating a situation in which the department could not be properly audited.

The latest audit from Foley’s office still expressed a few concerns.

But, Foley said: ““On balance, I think we have to look at where we were a year ago compared to where we are today, and they’ve made some very important strides … I think the city’s on top of the problem. We don’t anticipate coming back next year.”

June 8, 2012 Comments Read More
The Election Approacheth

The Election Approacheth

State Sen. Brad Ashford's decision comes after months of consideration


State Sen. Brad Ashford has signaled his intent to enter next year’s scrum for the nicest desk at City Hall.

The senator’s decision to run for mayor isn’t much of a surprise. He’s considered a bid for some time.

Nevertheless, Ashford hinted at his platform for the 2013 election during an interview with our pal, Paul Hammel: reducing youth violence, reining in spending on city police and fire pensions and merging the city and Douglas County governments.

So it begins.

June 6, 2012 Comments Read More
Council to discuss “parking manager”

Council to discuss “parking manager”

Parking manager would streamline operations, consultants say.


June is shaping up to be a big month for the future of the city’s parking system.

Led by the recommendations of a nationwide parking consultant, city officials are considering an overhaul of the city’s garages and meters. There’s a lot of moving parts in that effort (including some recent changes to parking at Midtown Crossing), but some key ones are now coming up for approval.

The council will hold a public hearing Tuesday on whether it should approve creating a city ”parking manager” position (at a rough annual salary $70,200 to $85,900). A vote could come next week.

Those who support such an idea say it’s part of a necessary overhaul to clean up a fragmented parking system. Curbside meters (which generated $1.5 million of gross revenue in 2010, much of it downtown) are maintained and overseen by the city’s Public Works Department. Garages, on the other hand, technically fall under the Parks and Recreation Department’s golf division.

The study found that in 2010 city-owned garages lost $206,349 after $2.4 million was put toward debt service payments. Surplus parking meter revenues are forwarded to the city’s general fund to help offset garage losses. City parking revenues, the consultants said, need a “consistent and continual watchdog.”

Creating a better management structure, consultants said, would consolidate responsibilities for parking-related planning, finances and other policymaking needs. The council will also vote Tuesday on whether to transfer $2.2 million worth of garage funds from the Parks to Public Works as part of the overhaul.

Other consultant suggestions would have a more direct effect on Old Market revelers on a typical weekend.

June 4, 2012 Comments Read More