Public Policy, Elections, and Making Legislative Change

For this Sunday’s Formation Time, we welcomed Creighton and Cortina alum Patrick Carter to speak to the community about public policy and how it can create justice for all. Patrick graduated from Creighton in 2010 with a degree in Justice and Society. Upon graduation, he completed a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota. Patrick currently works with Minnesota Department of Human Services as a legislative liaison. Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.27.00 PMPatrick provided great insight into the legislative branch and emphasized that you have to understand the system before you can make change. He shared ways how everyone can make an impact on public policy, from bringing ideas to legislators to meeting with your congressperson about a certain issue to contacting an executive leader with your concerns about a new law.

Patrick’s talk was fitting because of Election Day on Tuesday. As Patrick said, every election has a lot at stake, making it especially important that we exercise our right to vote. Here are a few resources to help educate you about important local, state, and federal elections this year as well as important voting information:

Douglas County Election Commission — find your polling place in Omaha, sample ballots, and more.

Voting Requirement/Process by State

Nebraska voter guide — the Omaha World-Herald‘s guide to elections in Nebraska. Nearly every major newspaper has a site like this, so non-Nebraskans can find a similar guide at other major newspapers.

Ballot Hero — sign up with an account, input your voting location, and learn about the candidates looking for your votes on Tuesday. (for Nebraska voters only)

League of Women Voters — create a personalized ballot to take with you to the polls on Election Day!

NBC News Decision 2014 — a nifty guide to this year’s Election Day that will be great for tracking key races across the country. Keep a close eye on Republicans to see if they takes control of the Senate.

Thank you to Patrick Carter for sharing your knowledge with Cortina. And remember to vote this Tuesday!

Tuesday Newsday [10.30.12]

What’s that? You are hungry? For INFORMATION?

LET’S EAT!

____________________________________

Local News

Speaking of yesterday’s Monday Meditation on American pride, Nebraska high schools are changing their curriculum, and there is some heated debate over whether climate change and “American exceptionalism” ought to be included. Check it out here.

The Nebraska U.S. Senate race is more closely contested than ever. Bob Kerrey has pulled within 2-3 percentage points of Deb Fischer. Read the Omaha World-Herald’s take on why.

Whether you support Kerrey, Fischer, or neither, Steve Martin’s endorsement of Bob Kerrey is easily the best political ad of the year.

Mayor Jim Suttle wants to revamp the rules concerning the release of violent inmates.

National News

Hurricane Sandy hit the East coast yesterday, and did some serious damage.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford are at each other’s throats in the aftermath of Sandy.

Governor Christie, formerly one of President Obama’s biggest critics, has been heaping praise on the President for his handling of the crisis, and has been praising FEMA’s response to the hurricane. Nobody saw that coming.

Most Americans now believe in science! Progress.

The American Academy of Pediatrics officially endorses embryonic stem cell research, but with restrictions.
_____________________________________________

It is officially 1 week until the election. Politics certainly does not encompass everything, but everything is in some way related to politics. I encourage you all to inform your upcoming vote with not only political articles and ads, but also with science, health, and ethics. These decisions matter, and the votes you cast affect the news stories you read.

Have a great week.

-Westin

Tuesday Newsday [10.9.12]

Happy Midterms Tuesday!

I know you feel swamped, but there is still so much happening all around us!
Take a little study break and glance around at some of these links to see what’s
happenin’.

Omaha News

The ability to be bipartisan has become a central issue in the Kerrey-Fischer race,
which can be tricky since Nebraska does not have a partisan legislature. Read your
weekly Kerrey-Fischer update here!

Apparently Omaha burglars are defying stereotypes, many choosing to rob houses
during the day.Yikes.

National News

Protestants are no longer the majority in the U.S. A pretty significant fact for
social, religious, and political life in the country.

Tomorrow the U.S. Supreme Court will undertake the case of an applicant to the
University of Texas who says her application was rejected because she is white.
The decision has the potential for either serious consequences for the university,
or the elimination of affirmative action. Read about it here!

Four states will soon be voting on initiatives about marriage. Hopefully the importance
of this doesn’t need any explanation.

Vote-by-mail is a common method of casting your ballot. Even though this author seems
opposed to it, he also addresses that is is fast, simple, and safe.

_________________________________________________________

Thanks for taking the time to stay informed about what’s happening
around us. Last week I skyped with my friend Vera in Belarus, where they just had another
rigged election, thus electing their “president” for another consecutive term despite his being in
power since the fall of the U.S.S.R. It was a great reminder for me to not take this democratic
process for granted. What’s worse than political ads delaying our YouTube videos? Not being able to vote in a fair election.
If you want a tool to help us re-appreciate our immense political freedom, take this citizenship test
and see if you are “worthy” of voting. Of course, if you were born here, you get an automatic A.

Good luck this week!

-Westin

Tuesday Newsday [10.2.12]

Good morning, well informed-homies. Welcome to October.
U.S. National elections are only 35 days away, and that means
it’s more urgent than ever that we are aware of what’s happening
in our city, our country, and our world.

REGISTER TO VOTE

Voter registration is waay down this year, according to this article by the Guardian.

Are you registered? You only have 4 days left to register! Do it HERE.

Local News

The city council is voting TODAY on a tax to partially fund the new cancer research center.
The research center and the tax could have dramatic implications for Omaha.

Bob Kerrey and Deb Fischer had their final debate yesterday, continuing to highlight the stark
contrast between the two candidates. Read a summary here.

Register to vote here!

National News

A Pennsylvania judge has taken a strong stand against voter ID laws–strong enough, at least,
to postpone implementation until after November 6.
Read about it here — this isn’t just about politics. It’s about social equality and the definition of what it means to be a citizen in the United States.

The Samsung-Apple cat fight has continued into the iphone 5. So many law suits!

The Presidential race is still very winnable by either side, but Romney is strugglin’ with the ladies.

Want to register to vote? Do it here!

Westin’s thoughts about voting.

I know you’re busy. I know it is frustrating to “not be as informed as I should be.”
I know some of you don’t like talking or thinking about politics. I know a lot of
politicians are slimy.

I know it seems like your vote really doesn’t matter.
I also know that’s total crap.

The decisions that are made by politicians we elect will affect us for the rest of our lives.
Don’t let yourself be affected by something over which you had no control.

Don’t be afraid. Be informed.
Oh, and register to vote here.

With love,
Westin