Trucks causing rumblings in north downtown
If you hang out around a stretch of historic warehouses-turned offices in north downtown, you can apparently experience something similar to an earthquake.
Business and building owners along a stretch of Nicholas Street, just north of TD Ameritrade Park, are fed up with big trucks roaring past, headed for the Interstate from industries in north Omaha.
It’s a tricky problem for the city, which has encouraged development around the stadium and the CenturyLink Center, but also wants to see companies thrive a few blocks to the north. So far, there’s no great solution.
Report questions suburban sprawl
A team of consultants from IBM have issued a report on the status and future of Omaha’s development.
Key among their findings: Focusing growth on suburban areas will harm the city’s long-term economic health. The consultants suggest changes to the property tax structure, including making rates higher for people who live in areas with low population density. They also propose assigning fees for city services like garbage collection and parks based on population density.
The study was funded with a grant that provided about $400,000 in consulting services. Omaha was one of 33 cities worldwide to receive one of the grants.
Read the entire report here.
ICYMI: Stothert’s early tests
UPDATE 5/21: In a press conference with Mayor Jim Suttle on Monday, the mayor-elect announced a few members of her transition team.
No word yet on if they’ll have a role in her administration, but attorney and former Nebraska Republican Party chairman David Kramer and Stothert campaign team member Rod Edwards will help Stothert as she moves into the Mayor’s Office.
Brinker Harding, a commercial real estate broker who served as campaign manager and chief of staff to former Mayor Hal Daub, also attended Monday’s meeting
Mayor-elect Jean Stothert doesn’t have much time to catch her breath after last week’s decisive victory.
Stothert must work to assemble a Cabinet as her June 10 inauguration approaches. She must decide how bold to be with the city’s 2014 budget. She must reach out to the rest of city government and local interest groups.
We spoke with a group of local experts — including former mayors Hal Daub and Mike Boyle — about what Omaha’s first female mayor must now do. We also might post some other snippets from our interviews with the two ex-mayors later this week.
New OPD policy: let cameras roll
The Omaha Police Department has refined its policy on the public’s use of cameras and video in the wake of a YouTube posting of an arrest that led to the firing of four officers, two of whom are charged with criminal wrongdoing.
The March 21 incident highlighted the sometimes contentious terrain that officers and citizens navigate when cameras increasingly capture their interactions.
“Individuals have a First Amendment right to record police officers in the public discharge of their duties, plain and simple,” said Deputy Chief Greg Gonzalez.
Starting Tuesday, the department’s 105 police sergeants will receive training that includes an overview of the revised policy. In addition, all officers have been sent a “training bulletin” outlining the changes. Commanders have gone over the revisions during roll call, which occurs at the start of each officer’s shift.
Council races: Dist. 7
City Council President Tom Mulligan’s third-place finish in the April primary left two newcomers in the hunt to represent northwest Omaha’s District 7.
Aimee Melton, an attorney, finished first in the primary, with Tim Lonergan, a lawn care company owner, in second. Both are Republicans, sharing similar views on some issues, but Lonergan has strong support from labor unions.
According to campaign finance reports, $25,000 of the $30,000 Lonergan has brought in came from the city’s fire union.
Council races: Dist. 2
In north Omaha’s District 2, first-term City Councilman Ben Gray is looking to hold his seat in a race with retired Omaha police officer Tariq Al-Amin.
Gray is focused on cutting violence by supporting economic development. Al-Amin is positioning himself as a candidate who would go after some of the same goals with different strategies.
Both are pushing for more police oversight, but in different ways; Gray wants to get an auditor added to the city charter, while Al-Amin wants to independently create a position for an auditor or citizen review board.
Council races: Dist. 3
First-term City Councilman Chris Jerram is looking for a second term representing Midtown’s District 3, facing off against political newcomer JR Jasso.
Jerram bounced back after a controversial St. Patrick’s Day weekend incident in March, in which he was photographed holding up a T-shirt that depicted mayoral candidate Jean Stothert as a stripper. He received nearly 66 percent of the vote in the April primary, while Jasso took 33 percent.
In the race to the general election, Jasso is focusing on messages about cutting taxes, while Jerram is talking about economic development efforts in Midtown neighborhoods.
Council races: Dist. 4
In South Omaha’s District 4, voters are weighing their options between two candidates with similar backgrounds: both lifelong South Omahans, both retired Omaha police officers.
City Councilman Garry Gernandt is seeking a fourth term in office, while Virgil Patlan is looking to unseat him. Patlan is focusing in on plans to roll back new taxes and often talking about social issues, while Gernandt is focusing his campaign on his record and goals for doing more to improve city services.
Council races: Dist. 6
In one of two council districts that covers part of Elkhorn, candidates are trying to prove to voters that they can do more to improve city services in the once-independent community.
Former Elkhorn mayor Phil Klein is challenging three-term City Councilman Franklin Thompson for the District 6 seat.
He wants to see the city do a better job providing basic services and to get more police officers watching the streets of Elkhorn. Thompson says he’s also looking out for Elkhorn, but sees his role as an advocate for neighborhoods across the city.
Council Races: Dist. 5
With Jean Stothert running for mayor, the seat in southwest Omaha’s District 5 is up for grabs.
The race pits two-term state legislator and former school principal Rich Pahls against Jeff Moore, a longtime insurance agent with State Farm.
Both candidates are registered Republicans interested in tax and spending issues, but differ on other issues. Pahls is touting his experience and connections from years of public service, while Moore says the district needs an outsider with business experience to make changes at City Hall.