There was much good information in the Jan. 31 Journal Star about Lincoln's proposed new arena ("Setting the stage"). I found the comparison to other projects very interesting.
First, it should be noted that most of the examples were completed before the current financial crisis.
Second, the amount paid for each project was the actual cost, not an estimate. We all know what happens to the estimate by the time the project is completed.
Third, and most important, when compared to other projects in other locations, the Lincoln arena total estimated cost was, by far, the most expensive, especially when factoring in the population and the actual amount the taxpayers would have to pay.
Tax burden/population: Virginia, $0; Ohio State, $0 (both are almost completely privately funded); Tulsa, $512; Wichita, $547; Madison, $121; Lincoln, $925 ($340 million total, but assuming $75 million in private investment, $33 million in private donors and $800,000 in federal money comes through).
I applaud the visionaries who help keep Lincoln a vibrant city and the designers for a beautiful architectural design, but now is not the time for this very expensive project. They should either scale it down or postpone it.
Jon Sullivan, Lincoln
Lincoln needs arena
I encourage the residents of Lincoln to show their support for the proposed Haymarket Arena project.
We have lost too many events already, and, frankly, I'm not impressed with the direction this city is heading without it.
Growth is good, and with a solid financial plan in place, now is the time for Lincoln to make its move. The arena is needed to spur growth, attract businesses and give our talented University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduates (our sons and daughters) a reason to stay and raise their families.
Mike Figueroa, Lincoln
Full disclosure needed
In the latest iteration of Sen. Ben Nelson's "I-know-better" ad campaign, the Omaha Oracle voices support for health care reform. The matrix of influence that has the informal personal adviser to the president, Warren Buffett, endorsing the actions of sitting Sen. Nelson, who was coerced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid into accepting preferential treatment for one state, is disturbing. This should raise eyebrows nationwide.
Surely Buffett knew as early as March that health care reform would be the signature initiative of this administration. From March 2 to Jan. 29, the stock prices of UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint Insurance, two companies Buffett invests in, have doubled.
Buffet also holds Medical Protective, a medical malpractice insurer. There is no medical malpractice lawsuit reform in the bill. Is Medical Protective's (privately held company) bottom line better or worse off absent the tort reform Americans are demanding? Who would have benefited from health care reform: Americans, or Buffett, his portfolio and his pals?
Nelson is spending a lot of money to rehab his image. However, Nelson would be so kind if he would fully disclose these relationships to us. Would he truthfully and without reservation answer the following questions: Who was in the room when he cut his deal with Reid? What was said? Did he speak directly with Barack Obama? Did he and Buffett consult one another on this bill? Why is he still talking about this bill?
It is time for Nebraskans to demand answers of Nelson. If there were ever an argument for repealing the 17th Amendment, returning the power to appoint U.S. senators back to the state legislatures, this latest Nelson ad is the poster child for action.
Sarah Hirz, Bellevue
Some facts missing
The Feb. 4 story on state agencies' receipt of tickets to Husker athletic events as incentives to place advertising ("Auditor questions Husker tickets' use") mentions the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education. I'm writing to state some important facts not included in the story.
For several years, the commission served as fiscal agent for Future Force Nebraska, a collaboration of colleges and universities, K-12 education, several state agencies and business leadership focused on work force development.
Future Force (and the commission) applied for and received about $300,000 in federal funds to encourage high school students to take more rigorous courses and become better prepared for either college or the work force.
To promote that goal and meet grant requirements, $4,860 in federal funds were spent on promotions run through the Husker Sports Network: seven spot announcements and an extended interview with the FFN executive director and a student on the Sept. 29, 2007, broadcast that preceded that day's NU football game. No state funds were used. Promotions encouraged students to make the best use of their high school opportunities and take their studies seriously.
Furthermore, no tickets to athletic or other events were accepted as inducements or reward by the commission, Future Force Nebraska or staff of those organizations.
Marshall A. Hill, executive director, Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education
Deeper solution needed
I was encouraged to read that "State leaders, others focus on Whiteclay" (Jan. 31). The problems of alcoholism and Nebraska's shame of profiting from beer sales to Natives need to be addressed. When Nebraskans for Peace raised the issue in 1999, few even knew the Nebraska beer sales were contributing to Native alcoholism.
Although it is encouraging that Nebraska's governor and state legislators have begun to address the problem, their initial solutions - a town cleanup, a recycling center and a mini-mall - do little to address the tragedy of Nebraska's skid row of the Plains.
Whereas I admire the optimism of Bruce BonFleur, he is naïve to think that economic development and town beautification will have much of an impact on alcoholism. The truth is that Pine Ridge tribal leaders need to face the problem head on. My Native friends told me that years ago.
Tribal leaders need to stop the illegal bootlegging and sale of liquor on the dry reservation. They must also strengthen their commitment to alcohol treatment.
However, as needed as alcohol treatment is (there is talk about increasing treatment capabilities in Rushville), it might be compared to building a hospital at the bottom of the cliff to assist casualties rather than building a fence at the top to keep people from falling off.
I commend Sen. Bob Krist and others for involving South Dakota legislators in the Whiteclay problem. It will take a coordinated effort of Native peoples, state and federal government and private citizens to adequately address this human tragedy.
But let's not distract ourselves from the core issues of poverty, despair, alcoholism, sexual exploitation and violence. The goal should not be just economic development but human development. Together we can work toward a real solution.
John Krejci, Lincoln
A realistic response
Finally a realistic response has been given to the problem of high school preparation and dropout prevention. Mike Rustigan ("Forcing all students into a college-prep track is foolish," column, Jan. 17) points out the need to keep strong career/technical (vocational) programs as well as offer advanced courses.
As a retired school counselor, I have seen many answers to the issue of getting students to complete high school and seek advanced training. Most solutions targeted the wrong group of students.
It is not the college prep students who are leaving our systems without graduating. The students not graduating are usually the ones who are not seeing relevance in the education being provided or who do not have strong basic skills.
When schools increase academic requirements while dropping the career/technical programs because of finances or in an effort to add more advanced classes, they are not solving the problem but adding to it.
When students leave our school systems, they need to be prepared to enter the work force with usable skills. All the advanced education in the world will serve little purpose if students have not developed life skills to succeed in the work world.
Many students cannot afford or do not desire additional education. When schools maintain high-quality career and technical programs, students can leave high school with the training necessary to gain employment.
Raymond Central High School is a prime example. Over the years, the dropout rate has been low because students have had the opportunity to excel in industrial technology, agriculture, business and family consumer science as well as having strong academic and fine arts programs.
One program should not have to suffer to make another stronger.
Corky Forbes, Wahoo