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Reporter

Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

Garbage hauler

More waste haulers are branching out their territories, so more big vehicles are on the same roads.

For decades, the local garbage-hauling companies divided up the city, with each company responsible for a specific geographic area. No one talked about this arrangement because it was illegal.

More than a decade ago, the arrangement began disintegrating and eroded fairly quickly after a non-Lincoln company began soliciting business in the city and local companies began branching out of their territories. 

But what was illegal was apparently more environmentally sustainable.

Today, three or four or five large garbage trucks come into some neighborhoods each week, the result of real competition and the addition of curbside recycling.

But the multiple trucks create an inefficient collection system that wastes energy, increases carbon emissions and is hard on residential streets. 

Nebraska League of Conservation Voters raised the question of air pollution, street disrepair and safety concerns at a recent candidate forum.

The candidates who understand Lincoln’s long history of being served by private, family-owned companies agreed with the need for some analysis but were quick to point out they do not want to harm the locally owned waste-hauling companies. 

New basketball floor delayed

The group that oversees the operation of Pinnacle Bank Arena did not order a new basketball floor last week as expected.

The West Haymarket Joint Public Agency was expected to approve a $123,751 contract with Robbins Sports Surfaces for a new, removable basketball floor to replace the original 5-year-old floor.

Shortly before last week's JPA meeting, city purchasing staff learned that one of the companies that bid on the new floor was considering protesting the bid process.

Horner Flooring, which had the lowest of the three bids for the floor at $99,300, complained about the written specifications.

Those specs were written by Tom Lorenz, arena manager, based on the experience over the past five years with the current floor provided by Robbins Sports Surfaces, said Bob Walla, city purchasing agent.

The specs were based on a number of things that players, coaches and arena staff liked about the existing floor.

The bid selected was the lowest responsible, responsive bidder, not necessarily the lowest bidder, Walla told the JPA.   

Because of the potential protest, the three-member JPA delayed any decision for the new floor for a month while the city’s purchasing office handles the protest.

Even with a month delay, the new floor should be available in plenty of time for the Husker basketball season, JPA members said. 

Separating politics from council meetings

Councilman Jon Camp, a Republican, had proposed a resolution putting the council on record as repudiating the Green New Deal, a nonbinding congressional resolution that lays out a grand plan for tackling climate change. 

The Lincoln City Council discussion and a vote on that resolution would have occurred Monday, the day before the city's primary election.

And two council members, Republican Cyndi Lamm and Democrat Leirion Gaylor Baird, are running for mayor.

The council voted unanimously this week to pull that item from the agenda. Councilman Carl Eskridge, a Democrat, moved to pull the resolution and suggested the City Council stay away from partisan politics right before an election.

“I want to congratulate my colleagues in this political season. You’ve done a great job in keeping politics off the dais. This (resolution) is changing that,” Eskridge said.

Camp denied the resolution was political and said it was just “representing our citizens in a proactive way.” He said he had intended to withdraw the resolution anyway.

The council historically has shied from taking a stand on national issues.

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The Green New Deal is part of Republican advertising this city election season, with a mailer painting local Democrats running for city offices with a broad liberal brush. The mailer implies that local Democrats are focusing on issues such as the Green New Deal, late-term abortions and extreme gun control. 

That is not true.

The closest the City Council has gotten to any of these topics is approval of a bump stock ordinance, which gained the votes of two Republicans on the council, Roy Christensen and Lamm. The Justice Department, with President Donald Trump's blessing, banned the rapid-fire gun attachments in December.

Who is behind anti-LIBA website?

The website denouncing the Lincoln Independent Business Association is no longer anonymous.

Seeing Red Nebraska, a group of liberal-leaning Nebraskans, has taken full ownership of the Leave LIBA website, including offering a link to the Seeing Red Nebraska website.

The Seeing Red Nebraska group has no money, said Amanda Gailey, who is part of that group. They pay for their website out of their pockets and the research is a labor of love, said Gailey, who is also active in Nebraskans Against Gun Violence.

The Leave LIBA site is in part an attack on mayoral candidate Cyndi Lamm and also on the role of the LIBA political action committee in supporting conservative candidates and causes.

Gaylor Baird still leads in campaign funds

Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird, with campaign donations of more than $366,000, has raised the most money in the mayor's race, based on campaign reports to the state. 

Jeff Kirkpatrick, the city attorney, ranks second with $218,000 in donations by the end of March. Kirkpatrick has loaned about $85,000 to his campaign, based on the reports. 

City Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm has raised more than $132,000 for her mayoral campaign. 

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.

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