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Enforce our traffic laws

Omaha’s streets are getting more dangerous by the day, and not because our roads are in admittedly poor physical condition.

While I agree with the readers who insist that slower traffic should keep to the right except to pass, the vastly bigger problem is that huge numbers of Omaha-area drivers apparently feel our traffic laws are mere suggestions that don’t apply to them.

Take a trip across the city, and you’ll see numerous examples of vehicles going 10, 15, even 20 mph or more above the posted speed limit, especially on main arteries such as West Dodge Road, L Street, Industrial Road, West Center Road and the Interstate.

Seeing vehicles speed up when traffic lights turn yellow, even if it means zooming through an intersection after the light has changed to red, is commonplace.

And how often have you seen one, two, even three cars turn left after the left-turn arrow has gone red and cross traffic has the green?

These are all potentially deadly violations.

Our police department is excellent, but it’s time to focus more resources on real traffic law enforcement. It might give these violators an idea that the laws are meant for them, too.

More importantly, it could save lives.

Kirk Winkler, Omaha

National debt appalling

Our biggest news stories recently have been about our great achievement in 1969 of Americans walking on the moon. I think the news is intended to distract us.

What should be our biggest story today? It is that Congress is being asked to approve increasing the national debt ceiling to a level larger than the annual U.S. gross domestic product.

In 1969, our national debt was $354 billion. At end of 2018, it was $21,516 billion. Congress will likely approve a $1.32 trillion debt increase for 2019 and another $1.37 trillion increase in 2020.

How long can we allow our leaders in Washington, D.C., continue to run America into debt, debt that will someday destroy America?

America should not be increasing its debt during a time of a strong economy. Debt should only increase when the country is in recession, such as in 2007-09 when the federal government was priming the U.S. financial pump with federal funds.

Increasing national debt at a time our economy is booming is totally wrong and totally irresponsible and must be stopped by the American people.

George Parkerson, Lansing, Mich.

Remember vital help for Flanagan

A recent article reports on the efforts to canonize Father Edward J. Flanagan as a saint in the Catholic Church (“Effort to canonize Boys Town founder Edward Flanagan reaches key milestone,” July 22 World-Herald).

I surely hope the effort is successful. However, we should never forget that Father Flanagan was aided and supported in his endeavors by Henry Monsky, a Jewish lawyer who provided both financial and legal aid at a time when the idea of Boys Town was just an early dream.

Someone needs to propose Monsky for sainthood right alongside of Father Flanagan. Monsky and his law partners Bill Grodinsky and Harry Cohen were highly instrumental in bringing about the success of Boys Town, and the efforts of these Jewish gentlemen should never be forgotten.

God bless them all.

Maureen McGrath, Omaha

Leave the pets home

This whole “bring your dog wherever” thing has gotten way out of hand.

I’m seeing people bring their pets, not service animals, into places that they have no business being, including the grocery store — sitting in the cart, where people put their food. Gross.

A true, bona fide service animal is very easy to spot — namely, their owners appear to have a genuine need for them, not attention from others, and their vests appear more official than one ordered online.

Don’t get me wrong — I like dogs.

I do, however, have a disdain for narcissistic, entitled, attention-hungry owners who are doing a terrible disservice for people with legitimate needs.

Mitch Leaders, Council Bluffs

Our kids are watching

Unfortunately, times do not change on alcohol consumption. As long as adults continue to support the concept of drinking alcoholic beverages, citing reasoning that it helps one to relax or experience social conversations with friends, children will follow suit.

Most sport activities cannot exist without beer and stronger alcohol drinks. It would be awesome if people would always not drive and drink, but the misconception that drinks will not affect my driving skills is antiquated.

Our children are watching and duplicating our actions and learning rapidly to be accepted by their peers.

Many years ago, our daughter’s 16th birthday party was sadly unattended by her favorite peers because their parents were notified that their children were going to a previous unsupervised party when the parents assumed the girls were at our home.

Parents, and even some educators, were cognizant of teens going to those parties. It is far easier to turn a blind eye to this issue.

I cannot imagine the grief that these parents are experiencing and they are in no way are to blame.

It takes a community and responsible adults to teach the dangers their children face when they submit to peer pressure.

As a nurse and as an individual, I know personally that excessive alcohol consumption serves no logical purpose.

Parents: Your children are watching and learning.

Mary Stolzer, Omaha

Not-so-good life

I nearly choked on my Wheaties as I read The World-Herald article about the latest Nebraska marketing effort dubbed, “The good life is calling.”

Why? Because a year ago, my wife and I left our six-figure jobs on the East Coast to pursue the “good life” in Nebraska’s largest city.

My plan was to start a new business and she was willing to take a job as a paralegal at a considerably lower salary.

However, after a year of doing everything we can, the “good life” appears more elusive than ever. My wife still hasn’t found a job as a paralegal — despite being over-qualified for most positions — and my business is struggling.

At the heart of this problem is an insular culture that is still prevalent. Before attempting to attract people back to Nebraska, there needs to be a strong emphasis within the business community on valuing (and placing) people who have a diverse experience base.

Without this, there is no point in trying to lure people back to the “good life.”

Joseph Giitter, Omaha

Sense of entitlement

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote “the very rich … are different from you and me.” To which Ernest Hemingway later responded, “Yes, they have more money.” Hemingway could easily have added that some also have an unblushing sense of entitlement.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune (“Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts faces big property tax hike, even bigger bill for back taxes on designer home,” July 19 World-Herald), Todd Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs and finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, has been underpaying the Cook County (Ill.) Assessor’s Office for almost a decade.

Ricketts tore down a house and built a much larger one that is now assessed at $1.96 million. Yet he continued to pay a tax rate on the value of the smaller, demolished house. The most recent assessment had been $828,000. Cook County has apparently been shorted about $20,000 a year for more than a decade.

One would think Ricketts could find those dollars somewhere. His attorney had a chance to set the record straight in 2013 during a tax appeal process but didn’t.

The Ricketts family recently “secured an $8.5 million county historic renovation property tax break for its rehab of Wrigley Field. The project also is in line to receive more than $100 million in federal tax credits.”

To many Americans it must seem that the richest of the rich have everything. Not everything, though. Honesty and integrity cannot be bought. But really, they are not that hard to possess.

Rick Behrens, Omaha

Supporting special needs

As an active participant in the success of Omaha’s special needs community, I am pleased to see the Omaha World-Herald recognize the wonderful work being done by Millard Public Schools and the Archdiocese of Omaha to serve all students in Omaha.

This is especially important now, as families are faced with cuts in state funding for kids with special needs and as uncertainty grows about how care will be provided for their children.

Inclusive environments enhance the educational experience for all children and young adults, which is why it has been a guiding principle for our organization from the beginning.

The Children’s Respite Care Center joins these community efforts through integrated preschool classrooms beginning this fall, so that we can provide children with special needs, as well as peers without special needs, an opportunity to learn and grow together in a rich educational environment.

I am proud to be part of the community of children with special needs, families and advocates, and I hope to see more collaborations and partnerships to build a solid network for our families to rely on.

Anne Constantino, Omaha


Children’s Respite Care Center

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