McDonnell under investigation, deal breaks down

McDonnell under investigation, deal breaks down

By Erin Golden August 26, 2013 5:40 pm Comments

photo (2)

UPDATE, 9/4: Fire Chief Mike McDonnell tried to get several revisions to his deal with Mayor Jean Stothert last week, before it fell apart.

Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office released documents that it said contained McDonnell’s demands: reimburse his tuition, assure that rigs won’t be temporarily taken out of service and clarify something the mayor said.

UPDATE, 8/30:  The tentative retirement deal between Omaha Fire Chief Mike McDonnell and Mayor Jean Stothert is off — and Stothert’s office is now investigating McDonnell’s employment.

The Mayor’s Office just told us it was unable to come to an agreement with McDonnell on a final deal. In a statement, Stothert said McDonnell “demanded” language be inserted into the pair’s tentative agreement.

The preliminary deal had McDonnell stepping down and receiving the city’s largest-ever pension. Stothert, meanwhile, would be blocked from making significant cuts to the Fire Department over the next year.

“I am disappointed in Mr. McDonnell’s unwillingness to stay within the parameters of our Memo of Understanding,” Stothert said.


Fire Chief Mike McDonnell is officially out of a job.

The chief and Mayor Jean Stothert signed off on a tentative deal Monday that has McDonnell stepping down — he’ll be on paid leave for the time being — and the mayor agreeing to hold off on layoffs or pulling rigs from service.

McDonnell will have to turn in his city-issued phone and equipment by Tuesday morning. He’ll be replaced for now by Battalion Chief Bernard Kanger, who has been with the city since 1991.

Highlights of the deal:

-McDonnell gets a retirement ceremony, just like other departing fire chiefs, and he’ll get credit for service through the end of October 2014. That means he’ll hit the 25-year service mark, which is used to calculate his pension.

-Both McDonnell and the mayor will abide by a “joint non-disparagement” clause through July 1, 2014.

-The city won’t lay off any sworn fire department personnel until July 1, 2014, and no rigs will be removed from service in the same time period. That comes with one exception: Medic 3, the South Omaha medical unit that’s been a subject of controversy in recent months.

-Three assistant fire chief positions will be maintained through the 2014 payroll year.