Ronald Reagan

Spend wisely on Offutt project

I am a big supporter of funding our military, but I just have to weigh in on the potential $7.5 million design contract for runway improvement at Offutt Air Force Base (“Committed to redoing Offutt runway,” Feb. 17 World-Herald).

I want my representatives to support the runway improvement, but let’s get real about the costs.

Using mid-level engineers, each earning $75,000 per year, you could support 100 people for a whole year with that $7.5 million contract.

If by chance you wanted to use executive level engineers, each earning $150,000 per year, you could still support a staff of 50.

Let me give you a head start. We need a runway somewhere near 12,000 feet in length, and most likely 200 or so feet wide.

It needs to be about three feet thick and have adequate lighting, drainage and fencing to keep animals away, as well as sufficient taxiways to facilitate large aircraft movement.

There — the preliminary design is complete, and for this service I won’t charge you anything.

Rather than blindly supporting this contract bid, I wish Gov. Pete Ricketts and Reps. Brad Ashford, Adrian Smith and Jeff Fortenberry would do the responsible thing and ask a few questions about this outrageous cost.

Richard Hill, Omaha

Medical not recreational

Feb. 17 Public Pulse writer Dominic Gillen put forth a very reasonable request — that our state lawmakers seriously and logically consider Legislative Bill 643, which would legalize medical cannabis.

I believe Nebraskans are fearful that Nebraska will become another Colorado, where the recreational use of marijuana was legalized. That is not what LB 643 is about. Medical marijuana is very strictly regulated and has been legalized in 23 states.

If Nebraska’s senators could see some of the patients who would benefit from medical marijuana, it might make their decision easier.

Better yet, let them become caregivers for a day. Attitudes often evolve once hands-on experience has been accomplished.

All citizens who support legalization for medical use need to express their feelings and concerns. And we need to remember issues like this when we head to the voting booth.

Dean Pierce, Omaha

Keep religion out of foster care decisions

There were two interesting articles about foster care in the Feb. 18 World-Herald.

A front-page story (“Faith-based foster care groups seek protection”) was about a bill that would blur the lines of separation of church and state and ultimately deny a wide variety of people the opportunity to act as foster parents.

The people who run these agencies need to read the second article, “Foster dad who had sex with teen sentenced.” A heterosexual foster father is going to prison for a minimum of 65 years for sexually abusing a foster child in his care.

No method is perfect, but denying people the right to act as foster parents based on religious beliefs or sexual orientation violates the separation of church and state and should never be allowed by any agency that receives public funds.

Dave Teer, Papillion

Wealthy work hard to get there

Feb. 10 Public Pulse writer B.F. Garrett (“It takes a village to make a millionaire”) parrots President Barack Obama’s declaration of a few years ago that the wealthy don’t make their money on their own, that they are created because of things furnished by taxpayers.

By that logic, doesn’t everyone have the same opportunity in this country? Or is it because some of them are just lucky or born with a silver spoon in their mouth?

How about the others who are wealthy? More likely it is because they have ambition, take advantage of educational opportunities, make good financial and business decisions and, yes, utilize sound income tax advice.

I don’t know why they should have to apologize for that.

William D. Blohm, Carroll, Iowa

Follow the British on drunk drivers

Why is it so difficult to control drunk drivers? They have done such terrible, horrific things with their weapons — cars.

In England, the situation is very different. Drivers are very afraid of driving after drinking. If they are caught, the consequences are very severe and are immediately and automatically imposed.

Can’t we have the same laws in this country? Many lives could be saved, and much suffering could be avoided.

Tessa Cox Turner, Bellevue

A better way to elect representatives

While Nebraska State Sens. John Murante of Gretna and Heath Mello of Omaha are no doubt sincere in their efforts with Legislative Bill 580 to balance the interests of Democrats and Republicans with their redistricting plan (“Could political maps be less political?” Feb. 17 World-Herald), a better alternative exists.

Let’s do away with congressional districts altogether and instead elect representatives to Congress with proportional representation. It will better serve the interests of all voters, not just party voters.

As the name implies, election winners would be determined by the percentage of the popular vote within the state. Nebraska only has three U.S. House representatives. If at least a third of the voters want Party A to represent them, they will get a representative from Party A, regardless of where they live in the state. If Party A gets 40 percent of the vote and Party B gets 60 percent, then rounding rules would give Party A advocates one representative and Party B the other two.

There is no gerrymandering with proportional representation. It’s a statewide vote. Your vote counts.

Larry R. Bradley, Omaha

The process must begin

The passing of Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a huge loss for America — liberals as well as conservatives.

Scalia was an “originalist” or “textualist.” He interpreted the Constitution as it was originally intended. He was labeled a conservative, but in actuality Scalia represented how every Supreme Court justice should be — setting aside personal beliefs to interpret and uphold the law rather than trying to create social policy from the bench.

Republicans are wrong to declare that President Obama can’t nominate Scalia’s successor. Obama must fulfill his duty, regardless of how much time he has left in his term. The Senate, in turn, has an obligation to vet the president’s nominee.

However, there is no guarantee the president’s nominee will be confirmed. It is well within the authority of the Senate to deny the president’s candidate confirmation, just as it did in 1987 when it rejected President Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork.

So the process must occur. The president and the Senate have a constitutional obligation. What would help heal the nation would be for President Obama to nominate a candidate, beholden to the Constitution, that both sides of the aisle could agree to confirm. In light of the current political climate, that idea is merely a dream.

Daren Schrat, Bellevue

Obama will likely nominate a radical

Feb. 17 Public Pulse writer Marc Barrett (“Democrats did it for Reagan”), citing the 97-0 confirmation vote in 1987 by the Democratic-controlled Senate for Anthony Kennedy, questions why the Republicans cannot do the same for whoever is nominated to replace Justice Antonin Scalia.

Reagan obviously nominated a person both sides felt comfortable with, not a far right-winger. Obama does not have Reagan’s track record for compromise.

Furthermore, Barrett did not mention Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer’s July 2007 statement that, if any new Supreme Court vacancies opened up, Democrats should not allow President George W. Bush the chance to fill it.

At that time, Bush had seven more months remaining in his presidency than does Obama today.

Frank Blank, Omaha

Not everybody loved Reagan

Feb. 18 Public Pulse writer Kim Johnston (“Don’t compare Obama and Reagan”) paints a lovely picture about how everyone, including Congress, loved Ronald Reagan and trusted him to do the right thing for the country with his Supreme Court nomination in 1987.

The truth is Congress trusted him so much that Reagan had to nominate three candidates before one was confirmed.

Not all of the public was in love with Reagan, either, as Johnston would have us believe. The funny thing is that in today’s Republican Party, Reagan wouldn’t stand a chance at winning the nomination.

Jeff Stanek, Omaha

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