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Wheel tax faces legal challenge

A group of concerned commuters is going to court to fight Omaha's new $50 wheel tax on employees who work in the city but live elsewhere. The tax is set to take effect Jan. 1. The Omaha Wheel Tax Coalition, led by Bellevue City Council president Carol Blood, says the new tax violates a state statute because it would be deducted from employees' paychecks. The group is also examining...

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Day care closed, owner arrested

An Omaha day care provider is facing felony child abuse charges after she allegedly broke the arm of an 11-month-old boy on Dec. 26. Sandra Johnson, 53, was arrested Dec. 29, and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order suspending her child care license effective Dec. 28. Johnson operated a day care business out of her home near 19th and Sprague. Her bail...

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State senators preparing Arizona-style immigration laws

Two state senators announced Dec. 28 that they are separately drafting new Arizona-style immigration laws to give local police more power to identify and deport illegal immigrants in advance of Nebraska’s 2011 legislative session, which begins Jan. 5. Charlie Janssen, of Fremont, and Tony Fulton, of Lincoln, told the Associated Press they couldn’t elaborate on their proposals as the bills...

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Governor won’t reappoint chair of foster care review board

The state's Foster Care Review Board is not a fan of Nebraska’s child welfare privatization. And it will lose two members, including its chair, after Gov. Dave Heineman announced in December he wouldn't reappoint Alfredo Ramirez and board member Ron Albin for second terms. The move came after the board's 2010 report in which it was critical of the reform Heineman supports. “A little over a...

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GOP committee has Nelson in its sights

A leader of the National Republican Senatorial Committee told CNN on Dec. 29 that Sen. Ben Nelson's reelection bid could be one of five key races that could lead to a Republican majority in the Senate in 2012. NRSC executive director Ron Jesmer said Nelson is "in serious trouble and kind of in a league of his own." Nelson has toed the line between political parties, taking fire in Nebraska for...

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City seeks delay in firefighters pay raise ruling

The city has asked the Nebraska state labor court to delay a ruling on whether Omaha's firefighters are entitled to a retroactive raise for 2009 as the two sides continue to negotiate towards a new contract. On Dec. 22, the local firefighters union filed a similar suit against the city, asking the court to determine pay raises for 2010. The Omaha Firefighters Local 385 has asked its attorney to...

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Two arrests made in Jenkins’ slaying

The Omaha Police Department's Homicide Unit arrested two people on Dec. 29 in connection with the October murder of Metropolitan Community College teacher Karen Jenkins. Siblings Gary Lee, 19, and Monique Lee, 27, were booked on charges of first degree murder. Jenkins was reported missing on Oct. 17. Six days later, police found her body under a house across the street from the bar she owned...

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Omaha Tribe asks court to restore sovereign immunity

The Omaha Tribe has asked the Nebraska Supreme Court to restore its protection from lawsuits after two tribal leaders signed a waiver of immunity with an Omaha-based contractor. StoreVisions, Inc. sued the tribe in October of 2009 saying it has not been paid for construction work on the tribe's casinos and racetrack facilities. Federal law grants sovereign immunity to American Indian tribes,...

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