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Drivers make their way on Interstate 80 as seen from South 36th Street on Dec. 26, 2017, in Omaha.

Soundest driving approach

I feel for Lindy Ottoson as she describes a typical daily commute on I-80 through Omaha (Feb. 16 Public Pulse letter). I don’t doubt the depiction of rude and dangerous behavior exhibited by scores of other drivers, as I have witnessed it myself many times, but I can’t help wondering why Ottoson and many others who have written similar letters to The World-Herald in the past continue to subject themselves to this experience.

While I don’t condone any of the bad behavior, I have to say that the safest way to travel the freeways — those being the interstates, freeways and expressways — in the Omaha metro is to go with the flow. By not traveling at the same increased speeds practiced by the overwhelming majority of drivers, the tiny minority of speed-limit obeyers are just as guilty as the tiny minority of super-excessive speeders in creating conditions ripe for disaster.

Multiple routes exist in the city to get to your destination. While every driver certainly has the right to be able to use their route of choice without being harassed and made to fear for their life, the demand for law enforcement to control freeway speeds on a daily basis is a pipe dream. Until future technology eventually arrives to automatically regulate the speed of all vehicles traveling together in a given space, some drivers just need to come to the realization that freeways are not well-suited to their driving style and they should take an alternate route for the betterment of their own and others’ sake.

William Dewell, Omaha

Columbus Day options

I can understand why Native Americans would like to replace Columbus Day with a day to recognize indigenous people. I can agree that Columbus was not a good example of what Italians have contributed to this nation. As a first-generation American I do, however, object to simply erasing all Italians from American history. Our people have contributed to arts, architecture, language, sciences, music, food and in many other ways. To us it would be like asking the Irish to do away with St. Patrick’s Day unless another day can be selected to recognize Italian achievements.

There are other solutions. If the Native Americans are somehow attached to Oct. 12, we could have another day commemorated for Italians. How about St. Joseph’s Day? It has been a celebratory day in Italy and is recognized in New Orleans and other American cities even though on March 19 it closely follows the big Irish celebration.

Another solution would be for Native Americans to celebrate on another day. They might want to consider June 25 in remembrance of what happened on that day in 1876.

It wasn’t only Columbus who abused and persecuted indigenous people. The first American settlers took their land, killed their main resource for food, clothing, shelter and tools and murdered many of their people.

We can and should cooperate and reach a solution that recognizes and appreciates both populations.

Phylis Rizzo, Omaha

Shelters’ important work

As Nebraskans journey through this harsh season of winter, it is greatly important that we not forget the homeless out there who are struggling to stay warm. It is also imperative that we as a community provide relief and support to the local homeless shelters that are offering a safe haven for those who are without a warm place of living. These shelters and our people need aid throughout the entire year, but this is certainly a crucial season in our state right now.

The Open Door Mission, Siena Francis House and the Stephen Center are all excellent places to offer gloves, warm caps, blankets and funding. Let’s step up and help our homeless neighbors.

John Horsechief, Omaha

Tolerance is vital for Nebraska

As a child living in Potter, Neb., in Cheyenne County, 50 years ago, I did not see anyone who was like me. As a young college student attending Kearney State College, in Buffalo County, I only had inklings that people like me even existed. As a teacher at Ralston Public Schools, I was told by my principal that people like me had no place in education, and if it was ever found out I was gay, I would be fired. People like me did not deserve to be employed, and as a Missouri Synod Lutheran, people like me could not be saved!

Yet many people like me persevered, moved to larger cities, took jobs and hid in the closet. People like me eventually founded scholarships that would benefit people like me, who were shunned by family, discarded and thrown away. People like me persist and survive, and people like me escape to safer environments to live fuller, richer lives.

The Nebraska Legislature is debating on whether to give people like me equal rights — yet these same senators have recently honored Willa Cather, a world-renowned lesbian writer. Nebraska, a state that found no place for a person like Cather, will now honor Cather by placing her likeness in the national Capital.

If Nebraska really wants to stop the brain drain and keep its workers and leaders of the future, it is time to recognize that diversity is good for business. Numerous studies have affirmed that young people today value a diverse environment, both for work and living. It is time that Nebraska recognize the many similarities among diverse people and quit discriminating on the differences.

Robert E. Benzel, Omaha

Respect, employ the disabled

The Feb. 10 editorial “Encouraging diversity is a crucial step for a stronger Nebraska future” was important and timely. However, I noticed one glaring omission of a group of potential employees in the discussion: people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

Individuals with I/DD have experienced years of systematic oppression in our society and even as they have become more included in our communities, they continue to have high rates of unemployment and underemployment. However, we know that with some extra support and accommodations in place — which are typically paid for by state programs so there is no burden on employers — employees with I/DD are consistent, skilled and loyal employees.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest barriers people with I/DD face in obtaining and maintaining employment is employers’ attitudes, and the fact that people with I/DD were not even mentioned in this editorial about inclusion of marginalized populations that bring value to the workforce shows that these attitudinal barriers remain deeply ingrained in our society in even some of the most open-minded and forward-thinking citizens.

Anne Woodruff Jameson, Omaha

Disclose gambling odds

With the Prairie Flower Casino situated at Omaha’s front door and casino gambling petitions now being circulated in the state, expanded gambling opponents need a new approach in dealing with the casino gambling bear. Since slot machines are the big moneymaker for the casinos, such an approach could be a nationwide campaign for a disclosure upfront on the slots of the odds of winning.

The campaign could start in Iowa with the Iowa Gaming Commission. Being in the pocket of the Iowa casinos, the commission would not be receptive without a public push. Needed would be television and newspaper advertising of the campaign. Nebraska millionaires could finance the campaign, so performing a public service.

In dealing with the casino gambling bear, don’t just poke him. Declaw him.

Dale Monsell, Omaha

Go with the wheel tax

I totally agree with Jordan Scupien (Feb. 20 Pulse) that if the mayor wants and needs money to fix the streets of Omaha, the people who use the streets should pay for the repairs. The wheel tax is the best and only way to go.

If a person has one car or 25 cars, they should pay their share for each vehicle that they have on the poorly maintained streets of this city. This is the only fair tax method there is that does not put the total burden on the homeowners. Along with increasing the wheel tax, we need to increase the penalties on people who refuse to register their cars in this city that they live in. There are many, many more cars on the streets than houses in Omaha.

The bottom line is that we need a fair tax on everyone who uses our streets. Now the mayor has to figure out a way to get the people who ride bicycles to pay for the bike routes and bike paths that they use and cherish. I will vote no on the $200 million bond issue!

Doug Arthur, Omaha

Welcome kindness

My thanks to the two gentlemen, Paul and Lowell, that helped me up after falling a few doors from Panera Bread on 178th and Center. I appreciated their kindness and had I not been so shaken, I might have offered to buy them lunch or at least a cup of coffee. Thank you, too, to the lady at the front desk in the cleaners for her kindness.

Mary Ann Pickering, Omaha

Understand Omaha racial history

Recently, we attended Dirk Chatelain’s presentation on his book “24th and Glory” at the Notre Dame convent. The World-Herald feature series and book are an essential story of Omaha history. Dirk’s sincere portrayal of the dynamics of civil rights and Omaha’s greatest generation of athletes was sensitively told.

Much discussion emanated from the audience, with fond memories told of growing up in North Omaha. How important it is for high school youth to be educated about the great achievements of these athletes but also acknowledge the widespread racial segregation taking place in Omaha.

Joanna and Larry Lindberg, Omaha

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