- Associated Press - Monday, October 3, 2016

Omaha World-Herald. September 30, 2016

State prisons upgrade their computer system.

Give the Nebraska prison system a hand for joining the modern age. The state is no longer using pen and paper to tally the criminal sentences of Nebraska’s prisoners.

Last weekend’s rollout of a computer system that calculates, adjusts and double-checks the sentences of state prisoners should close an embarrassing chapter for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

The new system is expected to prevent another systemic failure like the one The World-Herald discovered in 2014. The newspaper’s analysis found that Corrections had miscalculated prison sentences for nearly two decades, which led to more than 171 inmates being released early, including 51 who committed new crimes.

Some mistakenly released inmates were rebuilding their lives and keeping out of trouble when they were rounded up and sent back to complete their sentences, disrupting their jobs and lives.

The state later identified more mistakes, related to miscalculations of good time and mandatory minimum sentences.

“We’ve created a system that shouldn’t allow that to happen,” second-year Corrections Director Scott Frakes told The World-Herald.

Implementing the new computer and software system is expected to be costly - the state allocated $395,000. But the new system will be more accurate, factoring in the impact of good-time laws, new legislation and Nebraska Supreme Court rulings that affect sentencings. It also will calculate sentences based on 365-day years instead of the old method, based on a 360-day year.

The prison system plans to double-check the release dates and parole eligibility dates of all 5,300 inmates. Many sentences will need to be tweaked.

This combination of modern technology and human review should have been in place years ago - most governments and businesses have long used computers for complicated work.

There’s plenty of blame to go around. Governors and prison leaders fostered most of these problems by looking the other way. The Legislature’s frequent revisions to criminal sentences made for a convoluted stew. And lawmakers waited too long to assert themselves by establishing oversight tools such as a prisons inspector general.

Still, this marks an important step in state efforts to turning around the Corrections Department’s listing ship.

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McCook Gazette. September 27, 2016

Protesting athletes should make their points on their own time.

Cornhusker senior linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey says he’s criticizing America because he loves it more than any other country in the world.

Rose-Ivey should receive credit for informing his coaches of his intention to kneel for the National Anthem before Saturday’s football game.

However, Rose-Ivey, Mohamed Barry and DaiShon Neal were quickly reminded that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.

They shouldn’t be surprised at the backlash from football fans, who are not generally known for their political correctness, calling for everything from suspension to lynching.

Colin Kaepernick, of course, started the trend, saying he could not show pride in a flag “for a country that oppresses black people and people of color … To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said he supported Kaepernick’s message, but called it “an oxymoron that you’re sitting down, disrespecting that flag that has given you the freedom to speak out.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell originally disagreed with Kaepernick’s actions, but later praised them, saying he respected players who wanted to speak out to change the community.

Clemson University coach Dabo Swinney called the protest a “distraction,” and President Obama was concerned that not standing for the national anthem could prevent members of the military from hearing what Kaepernick’s “deeper concerns are.”

Not standing for the national anthem is a legal form of peaceful protest, and Kaepernick and the other players are not the first athletes to use their platforms to make a point.

But refusing to stand for the national anthem can only widen racial divisions in our country, and Kaepernick’s wearing of socks depicting pigs in police uniforms undermined his moral status as well as causing the Santa Clara police union to hint that it might boycott providing security at games.

Freedom of speech is a constitutional right, but it’s not all-inclusive - the right to self-expression is limited in many ways for members of many organizations, from the military and law enforcement to employees of many businesses and, yes, even sports teams.

Top-tier athletes can leverage their fame in non-sports venues that don’t distract from the games and rob sports fans of experiences they paid their hard-earned dollars for.

Disrespecting the flag and National Anthem for the cause du jour insults the memory and very real sacrifices of the millions of men and women who have preserved the right to protest.

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Lincoln Journal Star. September 30, 2016

Cheers for Indigenous People’s Day.

The Lincoln City Council added Indigenous People’s Day to the local calendar in smooth and admirable fashion.

They just put the new holiday right beside Columbus Day, sidestepping the fight that would have ensued if they had tried to wipe the previous holiday out of existence.

People who want to continue celebrating the so-called discovery of America by Columbus are free to do so.

And those who want to celebrate the cultures and the tribes that were already here now have their day on the calendar.

Surveying the trends, we’ll venture a prediction that Indigenous Day may one day overshadow Columbus Day.

Lincoln joins about a dozen cities that have voted to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on the second Monday in October. The council’s action does not create a new paid holiday for city workers.

Lincoln may be in the forefront of the movement, but it seems to be accelerating nationally. Last year Alaska renamed Columbus Day, and businesses there will close in honor of Indigenous People’s Day after Alaska Gov. Bill Walker signed a proclamation making the change official. South Dakota has celebrated Native Americans’ Day since 1990.

Columbus Day never caught on in a universal way. Twenty-two states don’t recognize it as a paid holiday. Nebraska state government, which observes all federal holidays, does give workers the day off.

Some writers, like Lizzie Crocker of the Daily Beast, have even wondered if Columbus Day is going extinct.

That’s a real possibility. As Bernard Vance of the Omaha Tribe told the City Council in Lincoln, “It’s well documented that he was a mass murderer and a rapist among other things.”

Bartolome de las Casas, a priest who accompanied Columbus, wrote of those who traveled with him: “They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house.”

The idea for declaring Indigenous People’s Day in Lincoln originated with leaders at the Lincoln Indian Center. Councilman Carl Eskridge said the occasion will be a positive celebration. Clyde Tyndall, executive director of the Indian Center, pointed to many Natives, including “professionals, attorneys, architects, who all had a hand in developing Lincoln.”

Before Europeans arrived, 15 tribes lived and hunted within the boundaries of what is now Nebraska, he said. Today, students from at least 69 tribes are part of the Lincoln Public Schools system.

The City Council approved the resolution unanimously. We hope the community as a whole will embrace Indigenous People’s Day just as whole-heartedly.

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The Grand Island Independent. October 1, 2016.

HOH defines our welcoming community.

A hearty Saturday Salute goes this week to the Harvest of Harmony committee of the Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce and its army of passionate, enthusiastic volunteers who have made the 75th annual Harvest of Harmony a success.

Each year, the Harvest of Harmony brings about 10,000 people to Grand Island for the pageant, parade and field competition. From band guides to staging to planning and implementation on the Harvest of Harmony committee, volunteers are key to making the events go smoothly and making a positive impression on all these visitors.

Except for a few years during World War II, the Harvest of Harmony has been an annual celebration in our community since 1938, when chamber of commerce members decided to organize an event to promote goodwill among the area’s small towns. That first parade featured eight bands and 13 floats.

The Miss Harvest of Harmony Pageant was added when the Harvest of Harmony resumed after the war in 1946.

The parade theme, “Our Diamond Jubilee: An Illustrious Past and a Bright Future,” celebrates this long history.

We salute everyone who helps to make this an event that high school band members and their families from across the state look forward to every year.

Parade marshals have long history with Harvest of Harmony

We also salute Kent Boughton and Joe Wicks, this year’s grand marshals for the Harvest of Harmony Parade.

Because this year’s parade is marking the event’s 75th anniversary, Boughton and Wicks were chosen in honor of their dedication to the continued success of the parade.

Boughton has worked in broadcasting for 44 years and currently heads up NTV’s First Alert Weather Team. He began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for KRGI-AM in 1972.

He has been a staple during the Harvest of Harmony. This year marks his 26th anniversary as the announcer for the field competition.

Wicks was born in Grand Island and after attending the Elkins Institute of Technology in Colorado, he started working in radio. He returned to Grand Island in 1982 and resumed his radio career in 1991 at Platte River Radio, where he worked for 24 years. He currently works at Charter Communications.

He became Harvest of Harmony stadium chairman in 1993 and only recently stepped down from that position. He also served as parade chairman in 1996, when 130 bands from across Nebraska converged on Grand Island to help the parade earn a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Strike up the bands

Thirdly, we salute all the high school band members marching through Grand Island’s streets this morning, from the smallest band, from Wheeler Central, to the largest, from Lincoln East.

Harvest of Harmony is a tradition for most of these bands that they begin preparing for every August. They look forward to the excitement of being in Grand Island with more than 100 other bands for this annual fall celebration.

Some of them are powerhouses that are looking forward to shining in the field competition, while others are thrilled by the opportunity to make music and march through the streets while cheered by thousands of people.

You all are a part of the Harvest of Harmony and we couldn’t do it without you. Thank you for coming to Grand Island and sharing your gifts with us.

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