Commentary

Wed
16
Mar

Let the sun shine in

The sunshine is invigorating this week, in more ways than one.
Like many of you, I am thoroughly enjoying the springlike weather and a chance to get outside and enjoy some sun. As a journalist, I am also celebrating Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote dialogue about the importance of open government and celebrate the freedom of information in our democracy.
Why should that matter, you might ask? In the modern age of technology we live in, the concept of openness in governmental affairs, at all levels, has never been more important than it is today. It does matter.
Our government, by design, is intended to be of the people, for the people and by the people. Transparency in what our elected officials are doing on our behalf is critical at all levels, but as we know from recent events in Washington citizens aren’t always told the whole story.

Wed
16
Mar

The joys of housework

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Phyllis Diller once said, “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.”
Now that we have been in the senior citizen ranks I get a guilty feeling when my friends tell me their wife has a cleaning lady, or more formally, “We subscribe to a domestic service.” Since I have been helping the betterhalf with the household chores of regular vacuuming and the occasional taking the recycling box and trash bin to our curbside, I have become more conscious of housecleaning and the duties entailed.
I approached the betterhalf about having such a service and she, to my relief, claims she doesn’t think at this point in our lives, a cleaning lady is necessary. But, judging from the tone of her answer, “not necessary” doesn’t mean she’s adamant about not wanting a cleaning lady. “If I had a cleaning lady, it would not be weekly and maybe even only once a month,” she said.

Wed
09
Mar

Trump leading GOP, country down a one-way road to chaos

America is entering unchartered territory.
Eight months before we will go to the polls and elect our next president, there is division unlike anything I can ever recall. It’s discouraging, frankly, and makes it tempting to just tune out the process entirely.
We can’t afford to do that, of course, though sadly I’m hearing more and more chatter here in Hamilton County that reflects disbelief if not downright disgust with the choices voters may have come November.
The banter we’re hearing from the campaign trail is disturbing, partly because of the severe lack of specific vision and policy content, but more so because of a divisive character who seems to be getting more popular with each outrageous statement he makes. It’s not unusual to hear such posturing a year in advance by some extremist seeking 15 minutes of fame, but we’re now hearing and reading jaw-dropping comments from a man who, as hard it is to believe, has a legitimate shot at the White House.

Wed
09
Mar

‘Super’ heading should not apply to politics

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Sunshine Week will be celebrated nationally this next week. No, we’re not talking about the weather, but a week sponsored by the American Society of News Editors and Reporters.
Sunshine Week in the news industry is a celebration of open government and that open government protects your right to know.
While here at the Aurora News-Register on page A2 the Public Record has appeared for well over 50 years. Most newspapers have some form of a public record page. Some newspapers also publish a police log detailing routine police activities such as noise complaints and minor irritations from people who have phoned a complaint to the law center.

Wed
02
Mar

ANR series invites area residents to share view of the world

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What is your perspective on life here in Hamilton County?
How and why did you decide to live here?
What do you believe are the community’s greatest assets, and its biggest challenges?
What, in your view, is the area’s most defining feature?
And from your personal vantage point, life would be better here if ...
If you asked 20 different local residents those questions, you would likely get 20 different answers. None would be right or wrong, of course, as they would reflect individual outlooks on the world based on a whole lot of factors.
Your age, for example, or the number of times you’ve been around the proverbial block makes a huge difference on how you view certain issues, as does gender, education, faith and perhaps your political persuasion. What makes you think the way you do is by any measure an inexact science.

Wed
02
Mar

Thinking, talking positive getting harder by the day

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It’s becoming more difficult to find an optimistic approach to column reporting each week. Government outlooks, stock market results and political campaigns have certainly not enhanced our optimist outlook for the majority of Americans. However, if we look back over the past 50 years, we thought then the world was going to X@# in a hand basket. Well, we’re still here and despite my present attitude I’ll survive.
I had to smile when an evening TV news broadcast led off with the story of a Macadamia nuts recall. Thank goodness it wasn’t chocolate. I don’t ever recall knowingly buying or eating Macadamia nuts
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Wed
24
Feb

Health benefits alone give proposed tobacco tax bill merit

A bill proposed this year to the legislature’s Revenue Committee deserves a serious look since it is designed to address two significant issues at once -- smoking-related illnesses and property tax relief.
LB 1013, introduced by Grand Island Sen. Mike Gloor, would raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1.50, from 64 cents to $2.14. It also could raise the tax on the wholesale price of other tobacco products, such as cigars, from the current 20 percent to 31 percent.
The increase would generate an estimated $120 million, with $45 million earmarked for property tax relief and $45 million as tax credits for Nebraskans filing a property tax exemption. Another $30 million would go to a variety of public health programs, biomedical research on cancer and smoking-related illnesses and a smoking prevention and control program.

Wed
24
Feb

Technology-- the replacement for face to face communication

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I’m struggling to accept new technology and realize you’re more comfortable being viewed as old fashioned, or possibly giving out the opinion that you are too dumb to learn. I find myself at that crossroads since I was notified that my computer’s software needs replacing.
Actually that was the polite way of telling me most of my computer’s programs are outdated and the company is throwing away the repair manuals and has no technicians who can service my frequent computer problems. More bluntly I was told to throw away my computer as well, because it was even more outdated than the software.
I’ve been thinking about my situation and began to question just what this world has come to. When it comes to communicating anymore, speed and ease seem to be the guidelines. Speed and convenience may be all right in many situations, but people seem to be increasingly finding electronic means to criticize in an electronic conversation instead of talking face-to-face.

Wed
17
Feb

Shift in property valuations good news for area farmers

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This week’s news that ag land values in Hamilton County will remain flat for 2016 comes as no surprise to anyone paying attention to local land sales, though that trend will complicate conversations in Lincoln regarding property tax relief.
Hamilton County Assessor Pat Sandberg said she saw the shift coming (see this week’s front page article), with prices at area sales dropping from a high of $13,000 per acre for irrigated land a couple of years ago down to the $8,000 to $10,000 range last year. Based on today’s ag economy, it’s not a stretch to think the values could remain flat or even decline slightly next year as well.
We can’t say we didn’t see a correction coming. Just 10 years ago, the county’s total valuation added up to $971.6 million. In 2015, that number came in at $3.11 billion, an increase of 320 percent in just a decade. In the last three years alone, total valuation went up 10.5 percent, 27.3 percent and 21.2 percent.

Wed
17
Feb

The things genealogy can reveal about your family

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Most all of us at sometime or other have received notice from a genealogy expert that he has published a book containing your family’s line of ancestral data. The genealogist then cites he has researched at least 10 generations revealing at least a thousand of your ancestors.
“There is nothing,” he writes, “that will so much add to your standing as the ability to show where your ancestors came from and what or who they were.”
I feel the way one gentleman replied to the researcher. He noted he had gone back three generations and, except for honesty and diligence, had found nothing in the character of his ancestors to which he could point with great pride. He concluded that out of the whole lot of over 2,000 ancestors he had found one, born two centuries ago, that was the son of an English duke.
He asked the book’s publisher, “What of it? His blood even if it was good, would be so diluted by this time that I would look silly if I boasted about it.”
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