Going behind the headlines in Sarpy County and Ralston

Reporter's Notebook shares the thoughts of the staff of the Bellevue Leader, Papillion Times, Gretna Breeze, Ralston Recorder and In The Game. Our staff invites you to join us as we explore a new way to connect with our readers, communicate our passions and cover our local communities. This blog represents the personal opinions of the individual staff members who contribute posts and does not reflect the view of our newspapers.
Kelsey: Assembly serves as good reminder

Kelsey: Assembly serves as good reminder

This morning, the parking lot of Papillion-La Vista South High School was theKelsey scene of a two-car crash.

But don’t worry – it was just  a drill. The exercise was designed to teach nearly 800 of the high school’s students the importance of not being distracted or impaired while driving.

While the mock crash was designed for the students, I think it was a good reminder for drivers of all ages.

When I was in high school, I never thought that I or any of my classmates would be affected by a serious car accident. But on May 31, 2007, we all were.

I spent my morning in a driver’s education session with a handful of other girls from my class. Just before they showed us the gruesome videos of crashes, our session was cut short. We had learned that one of our classmates had died after being in a car accident.

The night before, our classmate Cady was taking a friend home from a movie. As Cady was driving through an intersection, a distracted teen driver crashed into her car.

Since then, Cady’s accident has served as a reminder to me every time I get into my car to put the distratctions aside. Because the phone calls, text messages, emails, snapchats and everything else that my magic little smartphone can do can wait until I reach my destination.

By April 11, 2014 0 comments Read More
Klinker: Banish allergies to the land of ice and wind!

Klinker: Banish allergies to the land of ice and wind!

antarcticaDo you suffer from seasonal allergies?

Does your nose tickle persistently?

Do your eyes run like a tap at an Irish wake?

Does your every breath shudder like a B-17 getting up to speed?

Do you soak through a dozen handkerchiefs in an hour or spend a box of tissue in a morning’s noseblowing?

Does the pain in your head express itself as a gradual narrowing of the light until all is sure to be shrouded inAdam Klinker blackness and death?

There is hope!

It’s called Antarctica.

And for seasonal allergy sufferers, it’s Disneyland for the sinus cavity!

For the low, low, low cost of $3,999.99, Allergy Alleviators International will fly you and your allergies south to the world’s last frontier from March through August to avoid all the peskiness of seasonal allergies!

While there, you can engage in scientific experiments with some of the world’s loneliest Ph.Ds, hang ten with the emperor penguins and feast on all the snow you can handle!

But wait — there’s more!

For no additional cost, you’ll be able to keep tabs on what’s happening in the rest of the world on short-wave radio and enjoy the weekly feature movie at the Russian research station.

And all this without a single tickle in the nose or lung-shattering cough (DISCLAIMER: AAI IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR BOUTS WITH INFLUENZA OR PNEUMONIA)!

What do you spend on over-the-counter and prescription remedies for your allergies? $5,000? $10,000? $15,000?

Allergy Alleviators International can provide a real difference in your allergy suffering at a fraction of that cost!

Our operators are standing by, ready to take you out of your misery and into sweet freedom in Antarctica.

Act now and we’ll throw in a destination package for those of you who also suffer from fall allergies!

Don’t you hate it when you make it through the spring and summer, only to be beset by the fresh hell of dusty leaves and drying mold in autumn?

We have the cure in one word: Sahara!

Mention this ad and receive 10 percent off a fall excursion to Northern Africa’s greatest allergen-free pleasure zone!

Act now. Don’t waste another box of Kleenex, don’t hazard another sneeze that could pop an eyeball out of its socket, don’t spend another minute explaining to people that you’re not crying, it’s just allergies.

You deserve better, seasonal allergy sufferer! We can help!

By April 10, 2014 0 comments Read More
Vince: A sudden appearance explains my disappearance

Vince: A sudden appearance explains my disappearance



 For any and all who have emailed me within the past two weeks, just to be told I am not in the office in a vague, robotic response, I am sorry that I am not sorry I was gone.

You see, my sudden disappearance from work was because of a girl, a darling, cute and beautiful baby girl who, like her mother and father before her, knows what she wants and when she wants it, like being born a month ahead of schedule, for example.

 My wife Kelly and I welcomed Alana Renee Mancuso on March 19, already almost three weeks ago, and while she was a month early, she seemed to arrive right on time.

Sure, she had to spend a few days in the NICU, but she was able to come home much earlier than the doctors and nurses originally projected, most likely in spite of them in my opinion. So I took off a good chunk of the past two weeks to spend time with my wife and child, both in and out of the Methodist Women’s Hospital — awesome place by the way, their multi-grain pancakes are second to none.

Having a child is strange, I have to admit, but in an awesome way. As I explained to my cousin Tyler, it’s this weird mix of having to take care of another life form, but at the same time getting the chance to shape a life. Already we’re reading C.S. Lewis, finishing “The Magician’s Nephew” within a week’s time as well as watching three of the Chronicles of Narnia movies. My little Lana has also arguably developed a love for dogs, or at least a tolerance as our pup Rhodey is prone to stealing licks from time to time.

So this explains my absence, and while I am sorry for any inconvenience I may have caused, I am not sorry for being gone. On a note further, if I still confuse my days, please forgive me.

I had been told the days feel like years and the years like days, but I had no idea how the dates would get lost in the mix.


By April 8, 2014 0 comments Read More
Eugene: Barkis is Willing

Eugene: Barkis is Willing

That would be me, and yes, I am taking up Adam’s challenge to defend Time Warner’s $80 million payment to Robert D. Marcus as compensation for his guiding to completion the sale of the company to Comcast for $45 billion. To state the obvious, Mr. Marcus’s commission was 0.17 percent of the sale price, which would be the equivalent of a real estate agent selling my $200,000 house for $34. If you can find a real estate agent who will sell my house for $34, I’m signing on the dotted line. And if you can find someone who will sell my company for $45 billion and charge me just $80 million, I also won’t hesitate.

It’s just supply and demand. Quite obviously, given the two months that elapsed between Marcus’s appointment as chief executive of Time Warner, and his sale of the company to Comcast, Marcus wasn’t brought in to develop a 25-year growth plan. He was brought in to sell the company. I have neither the knowledge, the contacts, nor the credibility in these elevated circles to shepherd such a deal to closing. Few people do, which is why the price seems high, although it really is quite modest when seen in the big picture.

So, tell me how much Marcus deserved for knowing where to kick the refrigerator. “Well, not that much, that’s for sure.” O.K., so then how much? If the owners of the company are willing to pay that price for a rarified service, why should they not? How would you set a fairer price? Should there be a government commission setting prices for services, and if so, who gets to sit on that commission? And what are your criteria? And what rate will you set for a master plumber, for a hamburger flipper, for a carpenter, for a receptionist at a company with fewer than 50 employees, as compared to a company with 500 employees?

This could get complicated in a hurry.

I’d rather let willing buyers and willing sellers establish their own rates. It’s not as if Uncle Sam isn’t going to get a chunk of it, anyway.

The upshot is that Time Warner employees will continue to earn a good living, if under a different flag, feeding their children and sending them off to college, paying the bills and doing all those things that make this nation the envy of people trapped in much more enlightened cultures where the hand of government is so heavy.

Yes, indeed. Capitalism to the rescue.

By April 1, 2014 0 comments Read More
Klinker: Two cheers for the golden parachute

Klinker: Two cheers for the golden parachute

Robert D. Marcus became chief executive of Time Warner Cable at the start of the year. Less than two months later, he agreed to sell the company to its largest rival, Comcast, for $45 billion.

For that work, he will receive nearly $80 million if the deal closes, a severance payment that amounts to more than $1 million a day for the six weeks he ran the company before agreeing to sell.

— The New York Times, March 20, 2014

And capitalism saves the day again.

At roughly the same time Mr. Robert D. Marcus was jettisoning Time Warner in his golden parachute, we here in the Cornhusker State, this staunch bastion of profit-at-all-costs, no-nonsense conservatism, were witnessing a debate in the Legislature about a century-old law requiring that the salaries of insurance executives be disclosed.

Unfortunately, the debate was not about the rather ingenious idea of extending the disclosure of salaries of executives at privately-held companies, but about ending the practice.Adam Klinker

When it comes to what we all get paid, why don’t we just put our cards on the table?

Certain powers that be love to rail about how this country is changing. They’re right.

The widening income gap is abominable. The hundreds of percentage points executives are paid over and above the rank-and-file worker is sickening.

But hey, I’m sure someone’s willing to argue that Robert D. Marcus earned his cool million dollars a day.

I’m sure there’s a great debate as to why private companies shouldn’t tell their employees and the rest of us what the boss makes.

Because to argue against these measures means that this beloved system of ours — which we cling to with the ferocity of a starving wolf with a bone — might just not be working.

And what a tragedy that would be.

By March 27, 2014 0 comments Read More
Toni: No method to my madness

Toni: No method to my madness

The last time I filled out a bracket, I was in seventh grade. I knew just asToni much about basketball as I do now.

Practically nothing.

Besides soccer, I think basketball may be one of my least favorite sports to watch. But, I decided to fill out a bracket this year anyways, even though I basically have no clue what I’m doing.

Somehow, I ended up with Creighton in the Elite Eight. Do I really think that is going to happen? Not really. (Sorry Jays) I do, however, have a feeling both Nebraska and Creighton will make it through their first games and play each other. Or at least I hope that’s what happens because it’d be really exciting for us Nebraskans.

Honestly, there’s no real reason for my choices. Some teams were chosen for their ranking, some were chosen because they were more familiar than the other team and some were chosen based off a gut feeling.

I would really just love to see a good upset. I’d like to see a team who everyone thinks will be out of the tournament after one game go all the way to the end and win.



By March 20, 2014 0 comments Read More
Taylor: No Bracketologist, but I have a system

Taylor: No Bracketologist, but I have a system

Look, I never have or ever will consider myself a Bracketologist of any kind. In fact, I usually don’t even fill these out for fun because I don’t want my decisions to influence who I am rooting for.

I love the tournament, but I don’t care for how this bracket-filling-out has taken on a life of its own.Eric

But for what it’s worth, I like Florida, Louisville, Arizona and Michigan St. in the Final Four and I have Michigan State beating Louisville in the finals. Coaching takes over in the Final Four.

Think about it. When’s the last time you remember a mediocre coach winning it all?

Another rule of thumb, never pick upsets. Go chalk. Yes, it’s not as exciting, but if you don’t want your bracket to be a mess by the end of the first weekend, don’t pick Dayton to go to the Final Four.

eric ncaa

By March 20, 2014 0 comments Read More
Scott: My takeaway from March Madness

Scott: My takeaway from March Madness

OK, let’s be honest: I’m not really going to track how Nebraska or Creighton does this week in the opening round on the NCAA tournament. I’ll find out, I’m sure, because I’m in a small minority in that camp, but as fun as basektball can be, I’m just not that into it.

I will, however, be paying attention to what happens in the Frozen Faceoff (yes, an awful name) of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (again) this weekend. This time of year isn’t for basketball — it’s for hockey. And it’s heartbreaking that UNO fell short of advancing and making a run at the conference’s at-large bid to the NCAA tournament I care about.

This weekend, Denver faces Western Michigan followed by Miami and North Dakota. My picks: Denver and North Dakota play for the title, and North Dakota clinches. (Denver’s Sam Brittain is fantastic, but by all rights they should haven fallen to UNO, so I don’t see them going all the way in the NCHC tournament. And North Dakota is North Dakota, as well as the only top-seeded team that survived the first round road victory onslaught in the tournament’s inauguralyear.)

But, since everyone else seems to be into this whole March Madness bracket idea, here are my (admittedly largely random) picks:

scott ncaa

By March 20, 2014 0 comments Read More
Oseka: So, you want to see my bracket?

Oseka: So, you want to see my bracket?

Unlike my co-workers, who like to see trees destroyed for no reason, my bracket is online. I’ve used the ESPN Tourney Challenge to keep up with college friends for years.

I know it’s not a popular pick, but I think Wichita State is going to SHOCK the world and go unbeaten for a national Antonetitle.

But I’ve been wrong before.

Here’s my predictions sure to go horribly wrong:

By March 20, 2014 0 comments Read More
Klinker: It’s Madness!

Klinker: It’s Madness!

 ncaa bracket

OK, I’ll say it. Since we’re all in the ecstatic phase of the Madness.

But before I do, my credentials: I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I was once a beat writer for the Daily Nebraskan, covering the men’s basketball program at that university, in the Grand Guignol that was the Danny Nee administration. And finally, yes, I also hold a degree from the University of Kansas, where basketball is not some play-pretty that comes out of the toy box every decade or two, but a deathly serious business.

So I’ll say it: What on earth is Nebraska doing in a Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament?Adam Klinker

A 19-12 team that just happened to catch fire at the end of the season when the selection committee tells us, repeatedly, that they look at a team’s entire body of work?

I remember another 19-12 NU team.

The guys from 1998-99: Cookie Belcher, Larry Florence, Cary Cochran, Andy Markowski and the venerable Venson Hamilton. That team beat the ranked Jayhawks twice, beat ranked Oklahoma on the road, ranked Missouri at home, demolished Creighton, won a game at the Big 12 Conference Tourney and still missed out?

My beat took me all over the Big 12 with that squad and against my better journalistic instincts, I really came to admire those guys and feel they had earned a shot at an NCAA Tournament.

I remember that Selection Sunday (not quite as much hoopla back then) very clearly. I sat in the DN’s basement newsroom in the Nebraska Union and watched as the slate was filled and the Huskers were left off the dance card.

In that moment, I remember an acute disappointment: as if this had been done to me. As if there was something I could’ve done to propel NU into the Big Dance. In that moment, I remember how bad I felt for Coach Nee (he was always a perfect gentleman to me, if profanely profound) and those guys.

I suppose as an alum — and not a very avid fan — I wish Big Red the best tomorrow (though my bracket reflects my feeling an old Big 12 foe will get the better of them).

Yes, there are plenty of arguments that make this year’s Huskers more deserving than the 1999 version. And yes, trying to understand the moves the primum mobile of the NCAA makes is tantamount to uncovering some sort of unholy athletic Atlantis.

But some part of me might have died in that basement newsroom 15 years ago with another 19-12 Nebrasketball team.

By March 20, 2014 0 comments Read More