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Get Involved in Omaha’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP)

1 Jan
Thanks to some recent efforts by the City, Omaha’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) looks better than ever. But despite these improvements, it is ultimately a meaningless long term plan because the City deviates substantially from it every year without explanations, visibility, accountability, or public engagement.
Why does this matter? Considering the 2019 CIP includes over $200 million of Omaha property tax funds, taxpayers deserve a process that:
  1. Engages the public
  2. Explains why some projects get funds and others don’t
  3. Explains why some projects proceed even when their cost skyrockets past the prior year’s estimate and they are years behind schedule
The City’s Planning Committee, led by Pete Festersen, and includes Brinker Harding, and Rich Pahls, is considering making some changes to the CIP. This gives us a chance to propose some changes that will make the CIP a meaningful planning document.
So how can you get involved? Mode Shift proposes these actions in January:
  • Form 3 teams – one for each City Council member of the planning committee.
  • Review our proposed CIP changes with the teams to fine tune them and so that each team is knowledgeable about the issues (we have a resource page to help you be more informed here or view this detailed video)
  • Meet with the three Council member to advocate for the changes.
  • Emphasize public involvement with specific steps that the City could perform. We’ll ask for the full process to be in place by January 2020, but we’ll include some sample public requests with your help such as:
    • Reviving our effort for a bicycle lane program
    • Re-instating the Leavenworth project that disappeared without any explanations last summer
    • Perhaps a pedestrian project?
  • Publish blogs and videos in January. Let us know if you want to contribute! Email joanna@modeshiftomaha.org
We need your help to make this happen. Join us on January 23, 2019 – 7 p.m. at UNO’s Community Engagement Center for a Mode Shift member meeting where we will form the teams and begin the steps outlined above.

A Huge Thank You to all of our supporters during Omaha Gives!

29 May

We are very grateful for the support that rang in during Omaha Gives this year totaling our final donations to a whopping $12,860! This amount also includes a $1,000 participation prize that we received at midnight during the 24-hour challenge. With contributions like yours, this will help us move forward in a lot of new and exciting ways.

Recently, we’ve done quite a lot to advocate for safer and more efficient transportation options for everyone in the Omaha area. It’s important to us that we highlight those for any potential members who may be reading this. Below are a few wins that have taken place:

  • We launched member committees to further help educate and engage others on ways to stay proactive about transit options. The following committees are now actively seeking members: Biking Team, Election Team, Transit Team, Transparency Team, Urban Land Use Team, and the Walkability Team.
  • We initiated the intersection surveys throughout Omaha and reporting content to city officials for review. Learn about the nominated intersections on our blog.
  • We advocated for dialogue around the development of the Civic Center Site to ensure diverse and safe transportation options are considered. See blog post here.
  • We won the Friends of the Environment Award at Earth Day Omaha which came through a board nomination process. We are so honored to be recognized for this effort!
  • We developed a resource library at the Omaha Bicycle Company to help others stay informed about all things transportation.
  • We hired a Membership Coordinator!
  • We continue to help educate and engage through member-led Ride Alongs (traveling to different districts across the city via bus tours and historic site visits); co-organizing the Citizens’ Academy, at our Monthly Meetings and at our monthly Coffee Chats.

Building the Momentum

Last year we worked on our strategic plan, and identified goals we hope to achieve in the next few years according to our theory of change. Here’s where we stand:

  • We’ve continued to advocate for transparency from City Officials on topics like the Bond Issuing, reallocation of funds towards road safety and most importantly, invitations to the conversations of policy change before they are presented to legislature.
  • Continue to host coffee chats with local groups to build awareness and partnerships around safe transit options and healthy neighborhoods. So far this year, coffee chats included meet-ups with Seventy-Five North at the Highlander campus; Bcycle and the City Bike Sharing committee at the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge; Find out about other recent coffee chats here.
  • Educating our members through meetings, events and blog posts sharing active ways of engagement to secure a more diverse transit landscape across the Omaha Metropolitan Area.

2018 Street Bond Vote, Part 3: Project Selection

2 May

On May 15, 2018, Omaha voters will be asked to approve $151 million of Street And Highway Transportation Bonds (which we will refer to as “Street Bonds”). In return for this approval, the City commits to complete some transportation projects.

Mode Shift believes it is incumbent on the City to perform three steps:

  1. Inform the voters what projects it plans to fund with the Street Bonds
  2. Account for Street Bond spending and progress of the planned projects
  3. Disclose how it selects the projects that receive Street Bond funding

We covered the first topic in Part 1, where we reported that the City gets high marks, and the second topic in Part 2, where we reported that the City veers wildly from its plans without accountability.

In this final blog, we examine the third step and find that the City ignores the transparent and objective governance promised by the City charter and follows an opaque, visionless, subjective process that perpetuates the fiscally unsustainable, disjointed, band-aid projects that the City’s own Transportation Master plan warns against.

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