Kobus memorial

Officer Matt McKinney hugs his daughter after speaking in memory of his dog, Omaha police K-9 Kobus, on Thursday during a memorial service at Christ Community Church. More photos.

Smokers, don’t take tax hike personally

In response to the letter written by a smoker upset about a “shifting tax burden” (“Don’t overtax smokers,” Jan. 22 Public Pulse), all taxes are about economics.

The writer contends that “we’re just taxing the faceless, nameless, evil smokers.” Wake up. Taxes are about taxing supply and demand. Whether it be cigarettes, alcohol, gas, propane, natural gas, property. It doesn’t matter.

And, as an aside, you “evil smokers” do actually take up a majority of the health burden. We pick up your tab on our insurance.

Lisa Beck, Fremont

Pulling back the curtain on City Hall

With the recent snow removal debacle and spate of vitriol between the police union and Mayor Stothert, I hope Omaha is finally beginning to see the type of behavior by Stothert that City Council members, staff and city employees have witnessed firsthand since she arrived at City Hall.

One of Stothert’s first edicts after being elected was to place a gag order on all city employees. On more than one occasion she has thrown staff members or city employees under the bus. She has attempted to demote, take responsibilities away from or even fire city employees.

Stothert’s behavior has been like the 500-pound gorilla in the room that no one wishes to address.

Debi Herman, Omaha

We need more of these ‘failures’

Scott Long’s Jan. 19 Public Pulse letter, “Counting the days until he’s gone,” which criticized President Obama’s policies, was quite interesting.

Long thought that Cash for Clunkers was one of those failed policies, yet I remember reading that it accounted for about 20 percent of the average fuel economy increase that occurred in America between 2009, when the program started, and 2014. If that’s a failed policy, I want more just like it.

I bought a house a couple of years before the bottom dropped out of the market, which caused the value of my home to drop by a third. Last year, I was able to refinance it under the TARP program, another program Long called out. TARP allowed me to end up shortening the terms of my mortgage by two years, reduced my payments by $200 a month and gave me $200 to boot. Just another one of Obama’s failed policies that I’d like to see repeated.

Finally, Long wrote that the Affordable Care Act was an ill-advised venture. I guess letting 19 million families finally be able to obtain health insurance was another bad idea. It may not have passed Long’s test, but I think there are about 19 million families who would disagree.

James P. Laakso, Omaha

The death spiral of payday loans

Based on The World-Herald’s Jan. 23 article, “Payday loans bill would slash fees, help needy,” there will be no shortage of complaining from the payday loan industry about Legislative Bill 1036, which would help vulnerable borrowers and make it more difficult for predatory lenders to reap huge profits in Nebraska.

The president of the payday loan industry’s statewide lobbying group contends that a borrower’s ability to repay a loan is a key consideration in the lending process, so including such a requirement in reform legislation is not necessary.

In reality, nothing is farther from the truth.

Studies from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau show that 80 percent of payday loans are rolled over into new loans within two weeks. Similarly, roughly three-quarters of loan fees come from borrowers who take out more than 10 payday loans in a single year.

Judging by those standards, it sounds more likely that a borrower’s inability to repay a loan is really what payday lenders are after.

Karl Frisch, Oakland, Calif.

executive director, Allied Progress

Heroes, not cowards

I am angered by the Jan. 26 Public Pulse letter that called police officers cowards for using police dogs (“Mourn loss of all dogs, not just K-9s”).

The letter writer has obviously never been in a dangerous situation where she or her family needed help from a police officer. Otherwise she would not have questioned their bravery.

My granddaughter is a law enforcement officer who has a great love of dogs, having two of her own. She mourns the loss of all dogs, especially K-9s, but values human lives above all others.

To call the police officers cowards for sending in a K-9 is totally unacceptable and disrespectful. They run towards danger, not away from it.

God bless all of our law enforcement officers and their dogs. May they be safe from harm.

Shirley Westerhold, Omaha

A space for the whole family

Omaha’s newest treasure is the Do Space at 72nd and Dodge Streets. Not only are there acres of computers, but a legion of very patient staff and volunteers to help navigate this brave new world of technology. It offers 3D printers and computer classes, too.

It’s all free and not just for the kids.

Julianne Dunn, Omaha

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