News Briefs (Sept. 14-21)

News Events Meet Meister and Boyle: Thursday, Sept. 23, 5 p.m., Castle Barrett, 43rd and Leavenworth. Meet the candidates on the Democratic gubernatorial ticket. meisterforgovernor.com Sustainable Agriculture Listening Session: Friday, Sept. 24, 2:30 p.m., MCC-Institute of Culinary Arts, 5730 N. 30th St. Lecture to advance environmentally sound agriculture. mccneb.edu Symposium for Maternal Health: Thursday, Sept. 30, 11 a.m., Holiday Inn and Convention Center, 3321 S. 72nd St. Presentation on improving maternal health care in Nebraska. naswne.org Numbers Cruncher Death of an Oil Well Barrels of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico before the British Petroleum oil well was declared dead this week: 4.9 million Barrels of oil Nebraskans use each year: 4.08 million Amount BP has contributed to both Sen. Ben Nelson and Rep. Lee Terry over their careers: $4,500 They Said It Not Stimulating “... small businesses today need another loan like they need a kick in the pants.” — Sen. Mike Johanns on C-Span explaining why he opposed the Small Business Jobs bill. Harper's Index Number of U.S. states with a projected 2011 budget shortfall of at least 10 percent: 31 Estimated number of states that will hold less than 1 percent of their annual spending in reserve this year: 14 Number of states whose pension plans were fully funded in 2000: 26 Number whose are now: 3 Landowners silenced over potential pipeline deal Some Nebraska landowners might know how much TransCanada is willing to pay to run an oil pipeline through their property but they’re not allowed to say. Representatives from TransCanada visited Nebraska last week to discuss easement terms that would allow the Keystone XL Pipeline to cut through the state. The catch? If the property owners wanted in on the negotiations they had to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Jane Kleeb, an editor with the political activist group Bold Nebraska, likened it more to a gag order. “TransCanada says they’re being up front,” Kleeb said. “We feel completely the opposite. They’re making landowners say they won’t talk to the press.” Randy Thompson owns land along the proposed line in Merrick County. He didn’t attend the meetings but said this wasn’t the first time TransCananda had tried to force landowners' hands. “We got a letter saying we had until Sept. 1 to accept their offer or they would condemn our land,” Thompson said. “I told them that until they got a permit to go ahead with the project that we weren’t going to negotiate any type of settlement.” The U.S. State Department has yet to decide if the pipeline can be built. On Wednesday, leaders of Canada’s First Nations were in Washington, D.C., to try to persuade officials to reject the project. Bold Nebraska and TransCanada released competing polls last week showing different levels of support for the pipeline. Bold Nebraska found only 19 percent of people support the pipeline while TransCanada’s poll showed 69 percent of people in support. NSEA concerned over Heineman’s tone on health care The Nebraska State Education Association wants to talk to Gov. Dave Heineman about a threatening letter he sent last month saying saying if state educators didn't support repeal of the health care reform bill, they must want their budgets cut. But they are still planning to endorse him in his race for reelection against Democrat Mike Meister. Board members expressed concern over the tone of the letter but rejected a motion to rescind their endorsement of Heineman in the state’s gubernatorial race. State receives funds for housing in North Omaha The Nebraska Department of Economic Development awarded $1.8 million to the city to improve housing conditions in North Omaha. The city has agreed to donate land for the projects, which will create 71 homes for families whose income falls between 50 to 100 percent below the area average. The most recent census data listed the median family income for North Omaha at $25,382. Local leaders rally in D.C. for immigration reform Four Nebraska civic leaders rallied with more than 500 immigration reform advocates at the “Relief, Reform, Respect” forum on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. The group pledged their support to members of Congress trying to pass the DREAM Act allowing college graduates and military members to become legal U.S. residents. Pastor Michael Ostrom of Fremont, Neb. said that the hostility he’s seen in his hometown led him to attend the rally and push for solutions at the federal level. Sixty five incidents of harassment have been reported since the city passed its anti-immigration ordinance in June. Michael Nolan of the League of Nebraska Municipalities, O’Neill Public Schools teacher Bryan Corkle, and former state senator DiAnna Schimek joined Ostrom on the trip. Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey told attendees he would file a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate by the end of the month. VP Biden coming to Omaha Vice President Joe Biden is visiting Omaha on Sept. 30 to help raise campaign funds for Democrat Tom White’s congressional bid. The race between White and Republican Lee Terry continues to gain national attention as the two parties jockey for control of the House of Representatives. The Washington Post lists the race as one of its top 25 contests to watch this November. Earlier this month, House Minority Leader John Boehner visited Nebraska to raise money for Terry who has seen his lead over the Democrats slip in recent years. In 2004, Terry defeated Nancy Thompson with 61.1 percent of the vote. In 2006 and 2008, he defeated Jim Esch with 54.7 and 51.9 percent of the vote respectively. The New York Times lists District 2 as “leaning Republican” and one of 101 seats up for grabs. President Barack Obama won the district’s electoral vote in 2008, the first Democratic candidate to do so since 1964. Johanns health care amendment defeated The Senate shot down a health care law amendment sponsored by Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns. The amendment would have eliminated the need for businesses to report small and medium-sized purchases to the IRS while cutting funding for preventative health care. Johanns voted against the health care reform bill passed in March. Nebraska is one of 20 states suing to have the federal health care law overturned, and one of 16 seeking federal grants totaling $5 billion. Shooting Rounds Three shootings in fewer than four hours made for a bloody Saturday morning in Omaha. Kylon Hanie, 20, was shot just after midnight near 30th and Pratt while witnessing an argument. Hanie was transported to the CUMC and expected to survive. Two hours later, Charles Fischer, 27, survived after being shot near his home at 1816 Lothrop St. by an unknown suspect. At 4:30 a.m. Saturday, Christina Richey, 26, was shot while stopped at a red light near 30th and Sorenson Parkway. She tried to flee but struck a tree with her vehicle. She is expected to survive. Jessica Hintz, 23, was shot Sept. 14 while sitting in her car at Leavenworth St. and Park Ave. She was expected to survive. Police had made no arrests in any of the shootings.

posted at 07:43 pm
on Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

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