Recycling in Omaha (copy)

Sherrie Eastman, who works in accounting support for First Star Recycling, helps manage the recycling of cardboard at the facility.

Wanting a better recycling effort

The citizens of Omaha want to recycle, and it will cost more (“Stothert ‘stunned’ by $4 million bid to process Omaha’s recycling in 2021,” Oct. 25 World-Herald). That should not have been a surprise since it has been decades since the initial contract was awarded.

Further, the logical increase in the amount of recyclables due to the upcoming cart system will require updates in how these commodities are processed.

Money and energy invested into the recycling effort will be returned with a healthy revenue of 60% to Omaha for the recycling proceeds. Like other commodities, cardboard, paper, plastics, etc., will fluctuate on the open market. The current situation with China is temporary. I have confidence that other markets for these commodities will be found.

Why the RFP was set for five years instead of matching the waste-hauling contract of 10 years is puzzling. We will be recycling beyond five years, and a long-term contract likely would have resulted in bidders’ ability to spread out investment costs, thus reducing the annual expense to the city.

The city should assure that our recycling efforts won’t be wasted. The “blue bag” pilot began about 30 years ago and evolved into the green bin system.

Now we will have a better opportunity to eliminate putting commodities into a hole in the ground. I encourage those in charge to find a way to allocate the dollars so our generation and future generations can work positively towards the goal of proper use of our resources.

Jim Thompson, Omaha

Windows in SAC headquarters

I worked for many years in Building 500, the old Strategic Air Command headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base.

To describe it as a “mostly windowless, low-ceilinged warren of offices” (“New building, same name: StratCom to christen new $1.3 billion HQ after iconic leader,” Nov. 14 World-Herald) is inaccurate.

Just ask the people who had to clean all the windows on the three above-ground floors of the A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H wings.

Michael Yankus, Plattsmouth, Neb.

Resolving prison problems

A Nov. 11 World-Herald article, “As Nebraska prison overcrowding hits record, Omaha police union calls for more beds,” reported yet another problem for Corrections Director Scott Frakes, the governor and the people of Nebraska -– including inmates.

The staffing hiring fix has been tried for two years and failed. But more prisons are a bad idea. We need to think outside the box and find solutions. Here are three:

1. Form a task force of the stakeholders in the three branches of criminal justice. The agencies need to come down from their isolated silos and speak to one another. This would provide a cross-fertilization of ideas among parole, corrections, judges, law enforcement, the Legislature, mental health, probation and the Governor’s Office. Good people work in each agency but do not see the whole picture. Sen. John McCollister introduced a bill specifying this in the last session.

2. Oklahoma’s governor recently commuted the sentences of 450 nonviolent inmates convicted of low-level drug offenses and other petty crimes. One hopes housing, jobs and supervision will be provided. Legislation has already passed in Nebraska to reduce the prison population to 140% in 2020.

3. Let the governor declare a state of emergency and call in the Nebraska National Guard as prison guards. The guard is already on the payroll and could save the $15 million now paid in overtime. That money could be used to support the release of 450 inmates.

Ridiculous? Better than another prison riot or federal mandate.

John Krejci, Lincoln

Dragging our country down

I watched an “Armistice Day” service about this sacred day of remembrance, and I was horrified, but not surprised, to see a woman posing to get a good “selfie” while taps was being played, followed by the singing of the Navy Hymn (“Eternal Father, strong to save, whose arm hath calmed the restless wave…”).

Really? Taking a “selfie” while taps was being played and a wreath was being laid at a site honoring the fallen in our past wars?

I have seen our society decline to an unbelievable degree over the past several years, but this is yet another all-time low. I seem to see more of these all-time lows as my years advance and as the traditions we observed in my childhood have gone far away, lost in the rubble of self-absorption and “me”-ism.

Just when I think that this nation has reached the bottom of its own pit of self-degradation, another “I don’t believe it” moment assails my old and comfortable sensibilities.

America, take a good, long, hard look at yourself, your language,your deportment, your personal attire. Just how low do you intend to sink?

Don’t count on dragging me along with you. My love for this country is deeply embedded in my soul. It cannot be moved or changed.

God bless America.

Sunny McComber, Omaha

Deliver on biofuels

Farmers in our area continue to face challenge after challenge this season. On top of continued flood damage and ongoing trade disputes, we’ve learned the Environmental Protection Agency is going to try a bait-and-switch on the administration’s commitment to biofuels.

Demand destruction from the refinery waiver handouts, aimed at skirting federal biofuel blending laws, has been devastating to Midwest farms. Many biofuel plants have idled production. Others have closed their doors permanently.

The EPA just released a plan based on outdated forecasts, rather than actual gallons lost — a refusal to fully account for hundreds of millions of gallons of lost biofuels.

I was involved during the early conversations surrounding the Renewable Fuel Standard over a decade ago. The Bush administration stood with farmers. Unfortunately, now we seem to have an EPA acting more like the Obama administration’s agency, which caused many challenges for biofuels workers and farm families. In fact, the EPA has roughly quadrupled the number of waivers granted to small refineries since Trump took office.

Farm income has fallen by nearly half since the end of 2018. Farmers across the heartland have invested in homegrown, renewable fuels production. The plants being shut down provide much needed income and stability to many of our rural communities.

Our biofuels industry is being systematically dismantled by non-transparent, bureaucratic maneuvers.

Our lawmakers must urge the EPA to put farmers, consumers and biofuels workers first and deliver on President Donald Trump’s promise to the Midwest.

Rep. David Sieck, Glenwood, Iowa

Warren’s plan is uncharted territory

Every patient would agree that we need to rein in health care costs. That should always be our end goal. However, that is not the reality that certain proposals would bring.

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s plan, which she is touting in Iowa, is really entering uncharted territory. Reality turns out to be much different than what’s spoken on the campaign trail, and we need to take note of the facts on health care reform.

A “Medicare for All” system can absolutely sound appealing, but under Warren’s proposal, three major events would happen: Employers would lose their ability to offer high-quality coverage, health care spending would grow and individuals (including the middle class) would be subject to the most burdensome taxes in modern memory.

This combined impact would have drastic impacts in every state across the country, but particularly in the Midwest. Our low cost of living means that we are able to offer competitive health plans, but if the federal government dictated prices, plans and options, we would relinquish that ability.

Employers are still getting used to the changes from the Affordable Care Act, but Warren’s plan is essentially a whole new world of disruptions.

If we build on our current system and use success stories to craft reform, we will create better care outcomes for every person. But if we wipe the slate clean for an unreliable system, we won’t see the end of higher costs.

Tyler Stanley, Sidney, Iowa

River goes its own way

Regarding the Bloomberg Opinion article titled “Californians need to reconsider building in fire zones,” I must say I totally agree. But I wonder how many people would agree if the article were titled “Nebraskans and Iowans need to reconsider building in flood zones.”

What makes individuals think that rivers can be controlled? I’ve lived here a long time, and the one thing I’m certain of is that the rivers and creeks will flood.

The Missouri River’s flood plain is both wide and long. The river has been channeled and leveed, cutting a deep channel ever deeper. It is not the river that it once was, meandering through Nebraska and Iowa depositing rich nutrients into the soil. But when conditions change in the spring, this river still floods. It will continue to defy what humans do to try to control it.

I do not disparage farmers whose families have lived and farmed in the flood plain for years. However, everybody wants a piece of the river, forest, mountains, lake, oceanfront without the consequences of disregarding the climate.

These rivers do not care what your income is. They don’t care if you have the resources or insurance. Rich and poor alike are affected by this inevitably.

I am reminded of a line from the movie “Out of Africa”: “This water lives in Mombasa … Let it go, let it go.”

Well, this river lives in New Orleans, and whatever is in its way will not matter. Let it go, let it go.

Sandra Carpenter, Omaha

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