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Warren Buffett doesn’t want planned streetcars in his hometown of Omaha

Omaha, Nebraska — Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has broken his practice of staying out of local politics, prompting his hometown of Omaha to abandon a planned streetcar project.

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Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett speaks at the Bridge Games following Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska on May 5, 2019.

Nati Harnik/AP

Buffett wrote to the editors of the Omaha World-Herald this week to meet with the mayor to lobby against the $306 million project and urge the city to allow a referendum.

However, the city authorities are proceeding with the construction of trams. That’s because he believes Mutual of Omaha’s plans to include a $600 million headquarters tower downtown will spur development.

In the letter, Buffett said he had decided to make an exception to his policy of staying away from local issues, but said, “Having a wealthy 92-year-old tell us what’s good for our future is a waste of time. It may be unpleasant for many people.” He said he would like to consider the tram system because it would be “extremely expensive if implemented.”

“Residents could be served much better by extending or centralizing bus service,” Buffett said. Backed by massive public subsidies, trams keep running unconsciously, and mistakes are literally thrown into the cement.”

Buffett did not respond to questions about his letter on Thursday.

The proposed tram will depart less than 20 blocks from Buffett’s Midtown home for decades, passing the headquarters of his Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate on its way downtown.

Officials at Mutual of Omaha said that when the new office tower was unveiled, the new tramway would be an important part of the plan, as it would provide convenient access to the new headquarters. The company declined to respond directly to Buffett’s criticism on Thursday.

The city is using new tax revenues from other anticipated developments along the tramway to pay for the project. And the city council has already approved the bond to pay for it.

Buffett said he would vote against the project if given the chance, but the city doesn’t need to hold an election. There have been few, and we have made progress.

Omaha Mayor Gene Stozert told the Omaha World-Herald that he met with Buffett on Wednesday to discuss the city’s streetcars and developments.

“While I hold Buffett in high esteem, I respectfully disagree with his position on streetcars.”

Buffett’s headquarters staff is only about 20 people, and the streetcar is only about seven blocks west of his office, so even if he passed the front door, it’s unlikely that more people would take the streetcar.

But the conglomerate, led by Buffett as chairman and CEO, is a global company that includes BNSF railroads, Geico Insurance, several major utilities, and various manufacturing and retail businesses such as Dairy Queen and Precision Castparts. owns over 90 companies in Berkshire also owns approximately $300 billion worth of stocks, including large investments in Apple, Coca-Cola and Bank of America.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/warren-buffett-omaha-streetcars-local-politics/ Warren Buffett doesn’t want planned streetcars in his hometown of Omaha

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