Do something about tax relief now

The Legislature has studied the troubled Nebraska tax system for the past few years and has had adequate time to evaluate things. There are opposing views on how to tackle the problem. But nearly everyone agrees that lower taxes would help our state excel, help our families with needed relief and help keep Nebraskans, especially retirees, from moving out of the state.

There were clear instructions from taxpayers this year: "Help me provide more for my family so I can plan for a better future in Nebraska." What we don't need are more studies. What we do need is for the Revenue Committee members to hunker down, along with any experts, for however many hours it takes to get this thing solved and pass a bill.

If I were on the Revenue Committee, it would not be acceptable to me for this year to go by without a tax relief bill.

Jerry Pascale, Omaha

Here's one way to boost tax revenue

It seems that the State of Nebraska has a few problems right now. Too many prisoners, not enough prisons and decaying infrastructure, to name a couple. How about a new influx of tax dollars to fix these and other problems?

Let's not dilly-dally around. The medical marijuana bill is an important step to take, especially for those it would benefit. Look to our neighbors in Colorado. It has been over a year since that state has legalized marijuana, and as far as I can tell there has been no account of "reefer madness" where pot-smoking miscreants threaten the lives and well-being of fellow Coloradans. I think the State of Colorado is wondering, "What took us so long?"

In Nebraska we tax tobacco, and that system could be easily switched over to marijuana as well. We could alleviate future prison overcrowding, save money on many levels and we would have a new source of revenue for our decaying infrastructure and other needs. Seems like a win-win situation all around.

Clark R. Crinklaw,Omaha

Our right to disagree must be cherished

As long as we are teaching children about what to love about their country, let's not forget one of the most important things.

That is our right to disagree with the laws and policies passed by our elected officials. That we can voice our disagreement to these laws and try to change them. That we are not required to blindly pay homage to our country (a la North Korea) and are free to form our own opinions.

American soldiers have died to keep these rights for us. These are the rights that truly make America great. These are rights that people in countries across the world dream of having.

Tom Lutz, Papillion

On free speech and responsibility

Condemning the Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest as un-Christian, while seemingly well intentioned, is counterproductive to our moral arguments against terrorism. Unfortunately, describing the contest and the attack in a Christian-versus-Muslim paradigm promotes our enemy's view of this broader conflict.

Prominent figures in the media and clergy who marginalize the contest are not expressing an appropriate appreciation for their own protections under the First Amendment. Parody, satire and other provocative forms of expression are indicative of our society's freedom of speech.

We need not cower when our own ox is gored. However, it is our responsibility as citizens to continue living peacefully with our offending neighbors, not visit terror upon them.

Jeff Stevens, Omaha

Electoral reforms can ease voters' pain

Let's use the 2016 election to make four electoral reform demands of candidates. Let's also make the same demands of incumbents not up for re-election.

Get rid of the spoiler scenario by approving Instant Runoff Voting (which determines a majority winner in one efficient election).

Eliminate gerrymandering by instituting proportional representation.

Make all states competitive for the presidential election by allocating electors to the Electoral College based on the percentage of the popular vote within each state.

Stop the deluge of anonymous negative ads. Pass legislation requiring PACs to disclose their donors in order to run ads in the state.

Vote for the candidates who will support those demands. Vote against those who will not. Watch how much better the elections will be for us as voters. Observe how much more reasoned debate there is and how many fewer times you have to mute the TV or change the channel. See how many more and better choices we have as voters. Appreciate what better government you would have as a result.

Or, if demanding those changes is too hard, you can just endure the suffering.

Larry R. Bradley, Omaha

Police chief hasn't earned bigger pay

I don't see the need to give Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer a raise, which was recently done by Mayor Jean Stothert. The main thing the chief seems to be good at is attending neighborhood meetings and having press conferences after something bad happens like an officer-involved shooting (by an officer who has since resigned).

It does not seem like the chief's officers have much respect for him because they constantly embarrass the chief, either by pumping 20 shots into a wounded animal or tweeting mean things about a homicide victim.

The homicide rate in Omaha is up this year, and OPD does not inspire much confidence.

Ricky Fulton, Omaha

Police did not show judgment, restraint

A cougar lying outside the Project Harmony child protection center was killed last Wednesday. According to a retired police sergeant, Mark Langan, the police had "a gutwrenching decision" to make. "We are going to stand with what we said (Wednesday). The public was at risk," he said (May 10 World-Herald).

What was truly gut-wrenching was the way the police went about killing the mountain lion. Over a dozen shots were fired at close range with handguns and shotguns loaded with buckshot. At that range, one can't help but wonder how many shots were required to kill the animal.

I do not argue that the public was at risk, but at the same time the public deserves a police force capable of good judgment and restraint. In the past year, the public has seen enough of police brutality and abuse of power.

Patricia Fuller, Council Bluffs

Cougars are being crowded out

With the cougar incident, it is obvious that adequate land is not being provided for these animals that are being pushed out of their natural habitat and forced into new strange lands, such as Omaha, because they have no other place to go.

It is not a cougar problem. It is a stupid human problem that crowds out all other living things.

James Novotny, Omaha

Capture of lion would be better outcome

Omaha missed an opportunity. The mountain lion had a broken leg and appeared immobile and nonthreatening. The zoo was willing to tranquilize the animal and put it in a capture box to take to the zoo. There, he could have received proper medical care and been put on exhibit to showcase and educate others about our American lion. This was done in 2003 with the now-elderly mountain lion named Omaha that was captured, not killed.

Hopefully a lesson can be gained from this: that if we have another opportunity in a similar situation, we can turn it into something good.

Nancy Armitage, Omaha

Not holding my breath on food labeling

Regarding the May 9 letter by Annelise Madison, I am with her and others in wanting to know where/how the foods I consume are produced.

Call me cynical, but given the massive footprint of DuPont (Pioneer) and Monsanto in this state and Iowa, I don't see it happening. After all, Monsanto was the single-largest spender to defeat GMO labeling in California.

Dale Robinson, Hastings, Neb.

Graduation ceremony didn't make grade

My husband and I were so excited to attend our younger daughter's graduation this past Saturday from the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Imagine our surprise (and the surprise of many of the people seated around us) when the university herded the graduates through like cattle with no name announcement at all. You had to watch the big screen like a hawk as the kids passed through, just to catch a split second glimpse of them.

I realize that it would be a much longer ceremony if every name were announced, but the university could split up the colleges instead of everyone going at once. The graduates worked hard for four years, everyone spent a lot of money to get to that point, and you want to hear that name announced.

I think everyone involved earned that honor.

Leslie Rhoades, Omaha

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