#83: Omaha, NE 1/31/17

Some people celebrate their 80th birthday in the comfort of their home. Others do it during a 3 p.m. “dinner” at Bob Evans.

But only the wokest of octogenarians get a VIP ceremony in their city council chamber.

“I had the opportunity to attend a very special birthday party–with a YOUNG lady celebrating her 80th birthday–and I decided we ought to do a proclamation,” announced Council President Ben Gray with a wide grin.

“Rachel learned to drive and work three jobs to support her family,” he rattled off her biography. “Nurturing over 100 children through foster care is something special. Sometimes heroes are not people you see on television or read about.” (Mr. President, the Chronicles begs to differ!)

“I DID ask for Rachel to bring her birth certificate because I didn’t believe the 80-year-old story,” he joked. Or, at least, I thought it was a joke until he handed the shiny proclamation to a distinguished lady who didn’t look a day over 50!

“We’ll see you in another 80 years!” Gray cracked as the council roared with applause.

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Who knew that the secret to staying young was being a good person?

Alas, no sooner had the metaphorical candles been blown out than one councilmember went for the jugular.

“You know the history of that site. It certainly has had issues,” Councilmember Garry Gernandt frowned deeply as he stared down a stocky man who owned a scrap and salvage yard.

“We pick up the neighborhood and clean up and try to be a good neighbor,” the man retorted. “We haven’t had any major problems that I know of.”

NO problems?! Gernandt couldn’t believe his eardrums. “One of those complaints when you first took over was the proposed truck traffic into your facility–allow me to finish!” he thrust up a hand to silence the man’s protest. “My question: what are your hours of operation?”

The answer: “Approximately 8-5 daily. Eight to noon on Saturday. We’ll do a better job of recycling and maybe keep things a little cleaner. Make the health department happy.”

Amen, no one likes a dirty scrapyard. Get some organizing bins for those rusted-out car chassis!

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“I’ll be THIIIIIIIIIIIS happy.”

No sooner had Mr. Scrapyard stood down than a feisty woman in a ball cap leaned onto the podium. The subject: a special tax for cutting and clearing weeds. Her mood: enraged.

“Since I see you putting taxes on cutting the weeds and stuff, I wanted to know: are y’all going to be taking care of your OWN property?” she broadsided the unsuspecting council.

“The city has several lots in North Omaha which they do not maintain or keep up. Are y’all gonna tax yourselves?! I’ve been keeping the lot cut next to my property–which belongs to the city!

“Do I get reimbursed for cutting the yard?” she demanded in a blazing rhetorical ambush.

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“I’ll wait while you use the ATM.”

Wow, talk about speaking truth to power! I believe the engineers will have to examine City Hall’s foundation after the way it was SHAKEN just now.

“I don’t think we work that way,” responded Council President Gray through a forced smile.

Councilmember Rich Pahls offered meek words of encouragement. “If we’re gonna put the pressure on property owners, we ought to take a look at ourselves. Something tells me something’s going to get done. If not,” he shrugged, “come back.”

Final thoughts: Recycling at the scrapyard? Cutting down weeds? I give 10 out of 10 stars to cleanliness!

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