- Associated Press - Monday, October 2, 2017

Omaha World-Herald. September 28, 2017

It’s now on the City to take care of Omaha’s ‘String of Pearls’

One of the greatest challenges - and opportunities - facing those who tout the advantages of Omaha to visitors is that the city is often a blank canvas for strangers.

First-time visitors might be aware of the College World Series, Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett. They might know about our universities, great steaks or friendliness.

But few have a visual idea of the city before landing at Eppley Airfield. Thanks to a 17-year partnership between the Peter Kiewit Foundation, the City of Omaha and Lanoha Nurseries, Omaha has curb appeal.

The partnership is responsible for the “String of Pearls” entrance to downtown Omaha from Eppley Airfield along Abbott Drive, which remains one of the best ways to show off our growing city.

It spills out now at the foot of Gallup Inc., CenturyLink Center Omaha, TD Ameritrade Park, Creighton University and north downtown, offering a view of our vibrancy.

Beginning next year, the city will take over maintenance of the roadway’s tree-lined medians, decorative streetlights and greenery.

The Peter Kiewit Foundation launched the front-porch project with a $5 million grant. Now it’s funding a $378,000 project to replace ash trees along the path before the trees are devastated by the ash borer, and to renovate some of the island plantings. Lanoha Nurseries once again is handling the work.

Omahans can be grateful for this contribution to a fruitful public-private partnership and its continued impact on visitors.

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Lincoln Journal Star. September 27, 2017

Ridesharing reform good for Lincoln

When ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft popped up across the United States, few, if any, cities had regulations that adequately covered the companies’ business model.

Lincoln was among the many cities that tried placing ridesharing under existing taxicab requirements, an awkward fit considering key differences between traditional cabs and ridesharing. The incongruity placed the city’s Uber and Lyft drivers afoul of the law - all while their business boomed.

By instead pursuing an exemption from local taxicab rules for Uber and Lyft drivers to allow them to operate legally within city limits, Lincoln’s elected officials have found a practical solution that will allow market forces, not ill-fitting regulations, to determine how people choose to get from Point A to Point B.

Mayor Chris Beutler announced the proposed ordinance last week, and the City Council is expected to hold a public hearing on the matter Oct. 2. As a move that fosters market competition, better serves Lincoln and creates a legislative solution in city code, the plan checks off all the boxes for effective reform.

Lincoln did its homework in crafting this ordinance. City officials studied the impact of ridesharing and found that it helped reduce drunken driving and alleviated some congestion downtown. Most importantly, they were satisfied with its impact on improving the safety of passengers and bystanders.

“Instead of treating people who provide and use ride-sharing as law breakers, we decided to step back, make sure our residents were protected and then take action,” Beutler said at the news conference where he introduced the proposal.

Uber and Lyft may change the means by which people get rides to their destinations. They certainly compete with the yellow cabs with which most Lincolnites are familiar - but are by no means their death knell.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission notes that ridesharing’s popularity has coincided with a decline in cab rides in Lincoln. At the same time, however, Omaha has reported an increase in cab rides over the identical period.

Allowing and promoting market access is a key element to spurring innovation and improving the goods and services received by customers, a lesson Lincoln learned when state regulators opened up this city’s taxi market in 2012. Resolving the murky status of those who participate in ridesharing and enshrining it in a city ordinance are critical steps in a similar direction.

By studying and then proactively addressing ridesharing - though, admittedly, not for a few years after it burst onto the scene here - Lincoln struck a common-sense stance that council members should approve.

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Kearney Hub.  September 30, 2017

For 129 years we’ve served our community

Next week the Kearney Hub will celebrate National Newspaper Week with special stories about youths learning journalism in high school and how innovative teachers are using newspapers to help their students. We got an early start on National Newspaper Week today with a feature story about the Hub’s youngest carrier, 8-year-old Sam Snodgrass, and our oldest, 81-year-old Charlie Pickens.

Young Sam likes his income as a carrier and Charlie likes the exercise. After three hours each day delivering the Hub, he can eat whatever he wishes.

Also this week, we’ll be sharing the thoughts of community leaders. They say newspapers provide the news and information they need to be informed and effective. We’ll also share our own messages about National Newspaper Week on this page and in ads, and we’ll pitch a special subscription offer. We believe that as the week unfolds, we’ll win over new friends and readers.

Our theme is, “Your Community, Your News.”

It’s an appropriate theme because the Hub has always been about community. Most of us Hubbers, as we arrive for a day’s work, challenge ourselves with the question, “Are we providing the services our advertisers need to thrive and the information our community needs to excel?”

Look below this opinion, and you’ll see our mission is to serve and inform you. It sounds simple, but with so many people following us in print and online, everyone wants something different: More sports, more help wanted ads, funnier comics. The list is long because we touch readers in dozens of ways, beginning with baby announcements and carrying through entire lifetimes.

We’re observing National Newspaper Week at a time when some people doubt we’ll be around much longer. They claim we’re losing readers, but that’s far from true, as our audience online is now more than 1 million page views per month and growing.

Think about it. Newspapers are about the most unlikely business there is, considering the breadth of skills, talents, machinery and ambition required to continually publish the news, and yet the Hub has been a part of Kearney since 1888. At 129 years, we’re almost Kearney’s oldest business. Generations of readers and advertisers have valued their Kearney Hub and continue to support us. We are tremendously proud to serve and inform this amazing community, and we’re planning to continue another 129 years.

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McCook Daily Gazette. September 29, 2017

Playboy proceeds benefit religious causes in Nebraska

Nebraskans are proud of their famous children, from Ward Bond, Henry Fonda, Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett to Larry the Cable Guy - for a small state, we seem to have more than our share of popular, talented people.

Most of us weren’t aware that one of the founders of the sexual revolution of the 1960s sprang from roots right here in Southwest Nebraska.

A story in the Lincoln Journal Star cited British columnist Katharine Whitehorn who wrote that the Playboy magazine and empire is “a Midwestern Methodist’s vision of sin.”

Exactly, as Journal Star reporter Chris Dunker pointed out.

In short, Hugh Hefner’s parents Glenn and Grace Hefner were from nearby Atlanta, Neb. and Holdrege, Neb., respectively, were childhood sweethearts and attended Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, becoming teachers and marrying in Chicago, where they became parents to Hugh and brother Keith.

Glenn became accountant and treasurer for his son’s magazine, and the couple left their money to a Holdrege nursing home and hospital, and nearly a million dollars went to Nebraska Wesleyan for scholarships and a fitness center.

Over the years, the Nebraska-Playboy connection played itself out in other ways, with the Wesleyan band visiting Chicago’s Playboy Club for dinner in the 1960s, and Omaha being home to a Playboy Club for four years, opening in 1984 before all of the clubs were closed in 1988.

Criticized as a “pipe-smoking hedonist,” Hefner in 2011 told the AP “part of the reason that I am who I am is my Puritan roots run deep. My folks are Puritan. My folks are prohibitionists. There was no drinking in my home. No discussion of sex. And I think I saw the hurtful and hypocritical side of that from very early on.”

Now that Hefner has passed on, it’s ironic that so much of the proceeds of enterprise has gone toward causes he rebelled against. In the end, perhaps the Puritan prohibitionists have had the last laugh.

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