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Staff work with an SecurMar representative in setting up a metal detector at one of the two entrances to Blackburn High School in Omaha, Dec. 5, 2006. The alternative high school will use them to screen students and visitors. 

Improving school safety

Referencing Bonnie Jolly’s March 24 Pulse letter, “Bringing the changes we need”:

As I read her letter on gun violence in schools, she makes a real and compelling point that no sane person should disagree with: “Our children deserve real action to stop this epidemic.” I, too, believe our schools should have a prevention program to mitigate the problem.

While all related teaching is going on, there should be what I believe is of paramount importance when school safety is being considered: Taxpayers should pay whatever it takes to protect students and staff in the same manner as we do to provide security for judges, jurists and staff at courthouse locations and airline employees and passengers.

Metal detectors could be installed in schools as they are in airport terminals. If more entrances are needed, based on student population and timely entry, then they should be part of an immediate construction process. Monitors to man the detectors could be retired seniors or military who have had weapons training or retired FBI, police and deputies. They could be part-timers, properly vetted and hired without benefits.

Children, staff and parents should then be reasonably assured that “school safety” is about as good as it can get.

Arlo Zeitner, Bellevue

Global warming hysteria

I keep reading about how detrimental “global warming” or “climate change” is and how “we” must take actions now before it’s too late. Let’s take a look at these facts:

1) The United States comprises 4 percent of the world’s population, yet somehow the actions of those 4 percent will solve the problem plaguing the entire planet. What about the other 96 percent?

2) The United States is one of the top consumers of energy, but we also lead the world in production of “clean” energy. We’ve made great strides in the development of clean energy like natural gas, biofuels, clean coal, nuclear, wind and other sources.

3) Major contributors to world pollution do not hold the same concerns Americans have. Remember when China had to shut down industries two weeks before the Olympics in order to bring the air quality to acceptable levels?

4) In 1970, air quality in Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Houston and New York was deplorable. Since then, the U.S. implemented policies that have led to cleaner air.

There is little we can do to remedy the problems created by foreign countries. Demanding we forfeit trillions of dollars to “clean up the world’s problem” is nothing more than a redistribution of wealth act.

Marv Dorsey, Omaha

Dealing with climate change

Does climate change matter to Nebraskans? Recent extreme weather has rung the alarm bells for many who had previously questioned whether our state would be seriously affected.

The World-Herald’s March 23 editorial correctly makes the case that extreme weather is nothing new for March on the Great Plains. Climate scientists might add, those extreme weather events are already more frequent and more intense with climate change and will continue to worsen.

Former Gov. Bob Kerrey raises the question what normal will be when a changing climate drives the weather that produces new floods. We should all raise the question, how can we turn this around?

Rep. Don Bacon said in a recent town hall meeting that he doesn’t care for the Green New Deal. He reminds us that he supports wind energy, including ways to store the energy. We need him to do more.

How about a price on fossil fuels?

Bacon says he is reluctant to do anything that would raise fuel costs because he is concerned about increasing families’ expenses.

He should support the carbon pricing legislation that returns money collected to American households — more than offsetting their cost increases for most families. That legislation is called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. HR 763.

It matters to Nebraskans.

Mark Zimmermann, Omaha

Small percentage of slumlords

As Mayor Jean Stothert indicated at a public hearing this month, slumlord operators represent a small percentage of rental property owners. Most rental owners strive to maintain their properties and take care of their residents. The language in 48-201 (a)(1) paints a very different and inaccurate picture of the members of the Apartment Association of Nebraska and the services that they provide to the community. The issue isn’t rental housing per se, but slumlord operators. We request that Sec. 48-201 be revised as follows:

“A portion of residential rental properties within the city are not being properly maintained as required under this Code. Repeat offenders comprise a disproportionate number of maintenance cases for the code enforcement section of the planning department. Recent cases involving severe violations and resulting vacation orders have illuminated these problems.”

The statement in current proposals — “Residential rental properties comprise a disproportionate share of cases before code enforcement” — is misleading. The likely reason behind the “disproportionate share” is that single-family homeowners don’t typically report themselves for code violations. Reported code violations in rental housing indicates that the complaint-based system is working to some degree.

The Apartment Association of Nebraska stands strong with all owners and management companies who work hard to provide safe and enjoyable homes to renters. We ask that language in the ordinances not reflect the faults from the small percentage of slumlords outweighing the positive efforts from the majority of landlords providing renters good housing.

Rhonda Pederson, Omaha

Kneeling during national anthem

Many wonder why football players keep kneeling during the national anthem. If we listen, we hear them telling us that they kneel because of issues deep-seated in the fabric of American society. Structural violence, neglected schools, lack of opportunity and pervasive discrimination are major issues in the lives of millions of people.

Many thought that Colin Kaepernick settling with the National Football League would be the end of the issue. However, the genie is out of the bottle. No social institution is safe from discussions about how they fit into the systems of power inherent to our society. Given the bootstrappy rhetoric often used to describe athletes overcoming barriers to play the game, sports are an ideal medium for this discussion.

We, as members of a society and participants in popular culture, should appreciate these protests. They reignited a difficult discussion that often gets swept aside. The United States of America has never reconciled its painful history of racism. Instead, we elect to live in a post-racial illusion.

These protests sought to respectfully challenge this illusion. If we want to “just watch the game,” we should start by having real conversations about our history and racial justice. If we don’t, we are going to keep seeing protests and demonstrations. If we don’t like the status quo, let us seek to change it.

Nathan Johnson, Omaha

Suit against Ponca casino

Regarding a recent announcement that Nebraska and Iowa filed a joint suit against the small Ponca casino in Carter Lake: The Iowa casinos are afraid of losing a percentage of their take, and Nebraska is afraid gambling might get a start here.

In the 1870s, with the aid of troops from Fort Omaha, Nebraska — after decades of broken treaties — forced another “trail of tears” to Oklahoma. This time members of the Ponca Tribe were on foot in ill weather, becoming sick and dying to settle on basically worthless land for agriculture. Later a famous ruling on behalf of Chief Standing Bear declared Indians to be persons for legal purposes.

This tribe is attempting to build jobs and progress. So we name a new bridge after their late chief and we’ve made total atonement.

Like the saying goes, “Follow the money.” As for the State of Nebraska: Shame, shame, shame.

Wes Meisinger, Norfolk, Neb.

Political leadership then and now

In Joseph Ellis’ latest book, “American Dialogue,” he provides us a startling comparison about the quality of political leadership between the founding of our republic and today. In 1790, the year of the first census, the population of the United States was about 4 million. The two leading candidates for president the previous year were George Washington and John Adams.

In 2016 the population of the United States was about 315 million and the two candidates for president were Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. You can draw your own conclusions.

Another comparison he cites is that in 1790 the white population of Virginia was a little less than that of today’s Omaha. If we searched rigorously among the residents of Omaha, would we find the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, George Mason and John Marshall?

What was it about that time — and granted, it was an extraordinary time in our history — that produced such political leaders?

Today it doesn’t seem that any of our political leaders could hold a candle to those Founding Fathers. Think back to the 2016 election. How many of the Republican candidates really inspired you or impressed you with their leadership qualities? Now think ahead to 2020. How many of the Democratic candidates do the same?

Maybe in 200 years future historians will look back at this time and write glowingly about our current political leadership. Sadly, the cynic in me says they won’t.

Tom McShane, Omaha

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