Ricketts ready to fix Uncle Sam’s flaws
KEARNEY — Nebraska’s junior U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts told crowds of Kearney-area constituents he intends to teach Washington to be more thrifty and service oriented.
“You need to measure what you’re doing and then improve on it with better systems and technology,” Ricketts told a joint gathering of Kearney Rotary and Sertoma clubs Monday at the Kearney Holiday Inn.
Earlier Monday, Ricketts cut the ribbon on his new constituent service center on the east side of Eagle’s Nest Plaza at 4111 Fourth Ave. He introduced Sarah Mills, formerly a regional scouting leader, as coordinator of the service center.
Both of Nebraska’s U.S. senators- Ricketts and Deb Fischer – now have constituent service offices in Kearney.
Fischer has operated a constituent center in Kearney for several years at 20 W. 23rd St. in downtown Kearney.
In addition to Kearney, Ricketts has centers in Scottsbluff and Omaha and he hopes to open an office in Lincoln.
Kearney’s central location had a major bearing in Ricketts’ selection of the city for his service center, he said. He told the crowd at the Eagle’s Nest ribbon cutting and the joint service club luncheon that Americans’ impressions of politicians in Washington, D.C., are mostly wrong. He said both Republicans and Democrats are usually congenial and polite with each other, but that doesn’t alter the fact that federal bureaucracy is huge, difficult to navigate, and inefficient.
As an example of waste and inefficiency, Ricketts said when Offutt Air Base in Bellevue flooded some years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was tasked with granting a permit to build a levee to protect the air base against additional flooding.
Ricketts said six years passed before the Corps of Engineers completed its permit, but it was too late. Another flood already had come and severely damaged the air base. It was a loss of several billion dollars that a more efficient permitting process could have prevented, Ricketts said.
Ricketts believes the same efficiency and customer service strategy that helped improve Nebraska state government ought to be applied in Washington, D.C.
Ricketts said constituent services are intended to help bring attention and get action to resolve problems with the federal government.
Mills, the new constituent service center director, followed through on a complaint that a small business wasn’t receiving the loan money it had been awarded. Ricketts said Mills solved the problem and the money was delivered in two days.
Federal constituent services:
Rep. Adrian Smith, The Great Western Centre,1811 W. Second St. No. 275, Grand Island, NE 68803. Phone 308-384-3900.
Sen. Deb Fischer, 20 W. 23rd St., Kearney, NE 68845. Phone 308-234-2361.
Sen. Pete Ricketts, 4111 Fourth Ave., Kearney, NE 68845. Phone 202-224-4224.
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