Voting in the May Primary

The Nebraska Primary Election is scheduled for May 12, 2020. This election covers primary voting for US President,  US Congressional Representatives, US Senate District 1, some state Senators (odd numbered districts), and several county and local positions including some School Board, OPPD, College Regents, County Commissioners, etc. depending on where you live and what districts you are in. To see who is on your ballot, visit here 5 weeks before the primary, which for this election means they should be up by April 7.

The following information has been curated from the resources provided by the Douglas County Election Commission. Visit their website at https://www.votedouglascounty.com/

Register to Vote/ Checking your registration

Please register to vote! This can be done online, mail in, or in person. Instructions for all of those options are here.

*During Covid-19, we recommend online or mail in registration. Online is easiest, but if you do not have a Nebraska driver’s license or ID, you must use the mail in option.

Voter Registration is due 2 weeks before the Primary. The deadline this election is April 27 for in person and online. Mail in registration must be post marked by April 24. See more about those deadlines here.

Be sure to re-register if you move, change your name, or want to change your party affiliation. This is easiest to do online here.

If you want to check your registration and polling place, go here. You can check where your polling place is and what your party affiliation is.

Voting Options

As of now, voting in person is still an option in Douglas County (as of March 25). Polls are open between 8 am and 8 pm at your designated polling place (find that here) on May 12.

The other main way to vote is through an early voting. This can be done in person at certain locations (more on those details here) or on a mail in ballot.

*If you are not comfortable going to the polls during the pandemic, register for an early voting mail in ballot!

Early Voting Mail In Ballots

Fill out this Early Voting request form. You also should receive an early voting application in the mail that can be returned once filled out.

Mail that form to 12220 W Center Rd, Omaha, NE 68144 or email a scanned version to earlyvoting@votedouglascounty.com

This request must be submitted by May 1. You can do it now!

Your ballot will be mailed to you starting April 6, or a few days after you submit your Early Voting request form.

Once you have received your ballot, you can mail it back or drop it off at one of several drop-off locations listed here.

Early Voting ballots are due May 12 by dropping off at a drop box location by 8 pm or by mailing. If mailing, the election commission must receive the ballot by May 12- plan early!

See more official details about this process at VoteDouglasCounty.com

Staying Connected: how to use Zoom

IPL and OTOC have begun to use Zoom for most meetings, including some new ones to help us all stay connected.

If you’ve never used Zoom before, we’ve compiled some resources to get you started. Don’t be intimidated!

Basic Instructions

For each Zoom meeting, click the link provided when it is time for the meeting. This is what that looks like:

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/787401155?pwd=TUdQVTlsdG9INk4rdnFweDZFZTZLdz09
Meeting ID: 787 401 155
Password: 044698

You should not need the meeting ID or Password. Once you click on the link, it will ask if Zoom can run on your computer. Click yes, and the Zoom meeting window should open.

There is also a call-in option if you are unable to try the online video. Video is recommended if your computer or device has a webcam or camera, but if you don’t you can use the call in numbers. This is what that looks like:

Dial by your location
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 301 715 8592 US
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
+1 253 215 8782 US
Meeting ID: 787 401 155

You do not need to be signed up with Zoom to join meetings. If you would like a Zoom account, you can set that up here and click the “Sign up, it’s free” button. But again, you do not have to create an account. As long as you have the link for a particular meeting, you can get in.

Basic Instructions by device:

Before the Call

  • You can join the call using your computer, smartphone, or landline.
  • With your computer, allow Zoom to download and run as an application on your computer.
  • With your smartphone, install the “ZOOM Cloud Meetings” app. If you don’t want to use the app, call in as with a landline
  • You will have the option to check your audio and/or video before you join the call
  • You do not need to create an account with Zoom to access the call

Joining a Zoom MeetingFor computer and smartphone app:

  • Click on the “Join Zoom Meeting” link found in your email invite and connect directly
  • OR open the Zoom website ( https://zoom.us/join) or Zoom app. Use the Meeting ID (and password if required) to access the meeting
  • Follow prompts to allow the program to access your microphone and/or camera

For phone/landline:

  • Dial the phone number listed in your email invite. There may be several possible numbers listed. Choose the closest geographic location (Chicago) if you have multiple options.
  • The call will prompt you to enter the Meeting ID followed by # sign. Then you will be asked to input your participant ID if you have one, just hit # sign again.

Participating in a Zoom meeting

  • Once you’ve joined the call, there are several settings you can adjust when using your smartphone app or computer
  • On a phone, mute or unmute your phone by pressing *6. It’s recommended to keep your phone muted when you’re not talking to minimize background noise.

More resources and information:

Using Zoom (with pictures)

Zoom Basics and Tips

Video tutorial

Zoom.us resources and tutorials

Still confused?

On whatever devise you are using just click on the link and follow the prompts, that’s the easiest way.

Ask Greta for any help. We can all learn together!  gretalovem@gmail.com

Leaders present research and solutions, looking for opportunities at Issue Cafes

Issue Cafe in February provide opportunity for leaders to share research on key issues and develop relationships for lasting change

Mental Health Panel on February 25

Mental Health leaders brought in a panel of mental health agencies and services to begin a conversation about the biggest needs for keeping people with mental illness out of jail. Some of the main issues discussed were lack of or shrinking funding and resources, both from the state and for nonprofits, that makes good programs hard to scale up; shortage of mental health professionals, especially people of color; and difficulties with continuum of care that helps divert people from the criminal justice system, as well as coordinating care as people move throughout the system.

Panelists:

  • Moderator Paul Feilman, mental health activist
  • Ryan Carruthers, CenterPointe
  • Mary Ann Borgeson, Douglas County Commissioner
  • Patti Jurjevich, Region 6
  • Justine Wall, Douglas Co. Correctional Rehabilitative Services Administrator
  • Doris Moore, Center for Holistic Development

Unicameral Update on February 18

Jo Giles from the Coaltion for a Strong Nebraska presented about several bills currently in the State Unicameral related to current issue areas that IPL is helping OTOC leaders work on. IPL is a member of of the Coalition that helps nonprofits learn how to engage elected officials, especially at the Nebraska state level, on policy issues. Learn more about their work here.



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October Community Organizing Training a Success

60 leaders attended a 3 Day Organizer training on October 17-19. Three IAF organizers from Des Moines, Los Angeles, and Dallas led the training which covered topics about how we use and gain power, community organizing practices like individual meetings and house meetings, how to do power analysis, why organizing with institutions works, and more. The training was a great refresher for may leaders who have been around the block with community organizing, as well as trained several new leaders on the values and practices of community organizing. Leaders also met the new Organizer, Sarah Keeney, who starts at IPL and OTOC this December!

Issue Cafes in November

IPL partners with OTOC to provide Issue Cafes to educate the public around current events, the work of OTOC Action Teams, and ways people can become engaged on issues important to them.

Emergency Mental Health Services

A panel of speakers spoke about emergency mental health services currently available in the Omaha Metro area and new ones being planned.

Some resources shared:

Nebraska Medicine Director of Behavioral Health: Dr. David Cates

UNMC will be opening a Psychiatric Emergency Service next July. They are currently treating 3,000  psychiatric crisis patients a year, but a regular emergency room is not ideal for someone in psychiatric crisis where staff may not be trained for that and wait times for specific psychiatric care can take up to 24 hours. They are currently only discharging 47% of psych patients, but would like to be closer to discharge at least 2/3 of psych patients

Lasting Hope

Lasting Hope is CHI’s psych ER open 24/7 open to all ages. They also have 64 adult inpatient care beds, including 12 special care beds. There is always a trained mental health professional on duty in the ER.

Omaha Police Department Mental Health Coordinator: Lindsay Kroll LIMHP

Omaha Police Department just established a mental health unit. They are still collecting data about the mental health calls they receive and respond to. Currently, there are three therapists who acts as a co-responders who self dispatch on mental health calls to arrive with law enforcement. Therapists are trained to act differently than regular law enforcement, and can often diffuse a crisis without acting with force. The program is working well, but they only have 3 co-responders that only work regular business hours. Another program the police department has in an opt-in training for officers to become Crisis Intervention Trained (CIT) to better respond to metal health crises. This program is growing and offered to officers from across the state. They are also working to develop mental health first aid training for officers.

Director of Criminal Justice Behavioral Health initiatives at Region 6: Vicki Maca

Vicki works with the Stepping Up program for people who ended up in prison due to mental health emergencies. When the Mental Health system is not able to respond, many people end up in jail, and putting sick people in jail is not a good solution. The Stepping Up Initiative gives counties resources and support to reduce the mentally ill people in jail by bringing stakeholders together and collecting data about jail residents and their current care.  Then, the stakeholders develop a local plan to meet the following goals:

  1. Reduce the amount of people with mental illness in jails
  2. Reduce the stay of mentally ill people in jail
  3. Increase connections to community before release to provide a continuum of care and support
  4. reduce recidivism

Learn more about Region 6’s Stepping Up Initiative here



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Summer Training Series

Private and Public Relationships

The Summer Training Series closed on Monday, August 12 with IAF Regional Organizer Paul Turner leading a session on Public and Private Relationships to over 60 leaders. Private relationships are those with people like family and friends, the people you are authentic, relaxed, and comfortable with. Public relations are with who we encounter in our work, civic life, and churches. These public relationships are treated differently than private relationships- they are about getting things done, having tension and accountability, and performing the required role. For an moving example of a private relationship, read This Eulogy for a New York City Fire Captain who was killed in the World Trade Center. The idea of camaraderie is explored as different than friendship, requiring trust, accountability, and demanding better of each other of the well being of the whole and the greater community.



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Spanish Leadership Formation

80 Hispanic leaders from more than 21 different institutions gathered for a two-day leadership formation on June 21 and June 22. Sponsored by the Institute for Public Leadership, Omaha Together One Community, Catholic Campaign for Human Development and Inter-faith Education Fund, these participants learned how to connect one’s faith to relational organizing practices. The leadership curriculum was inspired by wisdom and faith tradition, using Scripture and theological readings. The training started with a shared meal at St. Pius X Catholic Church Friday night. Here, participants acted out Scripture in order to understand the purpose of community. Then, the training moved to College of St. Mary’s campus, where participants learned the purpose of baptismal community, collective leadership, pressure on families and communities and qualities of leadership. One of the participants, Jose Fortoso, stated that the training was a great learning experience and that he wished he would have this workshop earlier. The training closed with key learning points and goals that participants want to bring back to their congregations and institutions. This training has been available in various parts of the US, but we are hopeful that we can continue fostering the local Hispanic leadership.

June Issue Cafes: explore organizing and power generation

Environmental Sustainability with OPPD

On June 27, we had our final June issue cafe. 17 people attended to learn about three new OPPD programs: community solar, electrical vehicle rebates, and the low-income energy efficiency pilot. On April 1st, OPPD announced their community solar program that allows you to get affordable solar energy. Solar energy uses light from the sun to create energy, which serves as a clean and sustainable process. Each solar share is $0.69 per share for residents where each share represents 100 kilowatts per month. Then, another charge will be added to your OPPD bill. The shares, however, were completely sold out in just one month before they were even opened for commercial sales. The OPPD stronger suggested to enroll in the waitlist, which will help show the high demand and interest. Currently there are 250 on the waitlist, and you can join it too! The electric vehicle rebate program is a pilot program that incentives sustainable purchases. With a new electrical vehicle and a charging station, you can get a $2,500 rebate. A $500 rebate is offered for a charging station at home. Other rebates include dealership discounts and federal tax incentives. The low income energy efficiency pilot program partners with community philanthropies to educate and assist with homeowners with incomes at or below $32,000. The program allows professionals to go to each customer’s home in order to assess and fix any problems that decreases efficiency. Although this program is only for homeowners, the program wants to provide data that will potentially create a program for rental property as well. Overall, these programs can offer so much to our community!



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IPL helps leaders build relationships to aid passage of American Dream and Promise Act in House

The American Dream and Promise Act, H.R. 6, passed in the House of Representatives on June 4

The bill passed with a 237-187 vote. Only seven republicans supported the bill, including our Omaha-area representative, Don Bacon. IPL has worked with leaders from the TPS association of Nebraska and OTOC Immigration Action Team to build relationships with elected officials and help communities across Omaha get to know their immigrant neighbors. In 2019 alone, leaders met with Rep. Bacon, attended town halls, and called countless times to build a relationship with him, have him get to know the TPS recipients and Dreamers in his district so that he ultimately supported this bill. Other positive community out reach and pressure is effective in making positive steps in the right direction (see this article about Chamber of Commerce support for Dreamers and TPS). Continue readying to see more about how relationship-building helped influence Don Bacon’s vote and the outcome of this bill.

“They’re in no man’s land, and we should provide them some security,” Bacon said. “I’ve committed to these guys that I would not forget them.”

Omaha World Herald

Building relationship with  Rep. Don Bacon

 Om May 7, the OTOC Immigration team and the TPS Committee secured a meeting with Rep. Bacon to renew his commitment to support legislation granting permanent status to TPS holders.  Rep. Bacon continued to encourage community education about TPS and reaffirmed his support for TPS. He committed to vote for a “clean” Dream and Promise Act, the only current legislation that would have a path to citizenship for TPS holders. He fulfilled this promise on June 4 by voting FOR H.R. 6!



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