MECA board member’s residency challenged
UPDATE, 9/13: Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale is now investigating Gutierrez Mora.
UPDATE, 9/11: Most of the City Council appears to be supportive of Festersen’s plan.
UPDATE, 9/10: City Council President Pete Festersen wants the city to clarify the qualifications for MECA board members.
Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority board member Jamie Gutierrez Mora doesn’t meet the requirements to serve on the board — at least according to Omaha’s city attorney.
In an opinion issued late last week, City Attorney Paul Kratz said Gutierrez Mora does not live in Douglas County and is not a “resident elector,” though she is registered to vote in Douglas County. Gutierrez Mora owns a home in Bellevue, but has listed a South Omaha rental property owned by her husband as her home.
Now, the mayor and City Council could vote to remove Gutierrez Mora from the board. The MECA board could also act independently on the matter.
Festersen won’t run for Congress
City Council President Festersen, the father of two young children, has decided the timing of a congressional campaign against against Republican Rep. Lee Terry wasn’t right for his family.
Robynn Tysver reports the District 1 council representative was heavily recruited by national Democrats, who believed the moderate, pro-business councilman had the credentials to win in the Omaha-based congressional district, the state’s only swing district.
“At this point in time, however, I’ve determined I can have a greater impact on my community by staying focused on being a father, a business owner, and president of the Omaha City Council,” Festersen said.
Where does this MECA board member live?
The newest member of the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority board faces questions over whether her Bellevue home disqualifies her to serve with the group, which runs Omaha’s marquee arena and baseball stadium.
Jamie Gutierrez Mora, owner and president of Midwest Maintenance Co., was appointed by the Omaha City Council in March. Midwest Maintenance Co. provides cleaning services for the CenturyLink Center, the Omaha Civic Auditorium and TD Ameritrade Park.
Gutierrez Mora is a registered voter in Douglas County, but has not voted there, according to county election records. She owns a home in Bellevue with a tax value of roughly $600,000. That is not the address listed on the résumé that Gutierrez Mora gave the city upon her appointment.
Voters who have previously registered in Nebraska can register in a different county without having to provide proof of address, said Valerie Stoj, spokeswoman for the Douglas County Election Commission.
But applicants must sign an oath that “I live in the State of Nebraska at the address provided in this application.” The oath says applicants who knowingly provide false information are guilty of election falsification, a felony.
MECA paid Midwest Maintenance Co. some $3.8 million from its 2009 through its 2011 fiscal years, according to federal tax forms. Gutierrez Mora has owned the company since 1997.
Civilian review board could be in city’s future
Mayor Jean Stothert says she will propose a form of civilian oversight for the Omaha Police Department. Possibly by the end of this summer.
Stothert told The World-Herald her administration is working to suggest an ordinance to create some sort of citizen review board, a concept she supported during her mayoral campaign.
That’s news to the city’s police union head.
“Don’t rush to implement something, which ultimately doesn’t work or backfires,” said Sgt. John Wells, the union president. “Because that just tends to cause more problems.”
Police oversight was a bit of a wedge issue during the mayoral election. Stothert and former Mayor Jim Suttle differed on whether to hire a police auditor or instate the community-based form of oversight supported by Stothert.
Stothert has said she believes people would have more trust in the Police Department if they were represented by a citizens board that could review police regulations or disputed incidents.
“Community policing isn’t just a matter of getting your officers out in the community, driving by once or twice a day in a cruiser,” she said. “True community policing is when the community takes part in developing the policy.”
Budget hearing highlights: fire, sustainability
With two weeks to go before the council votes on Mayor Jean Stothert’s proposed budget, city officials and fire union leaders have revived discussions about the city’s fire contract.
Talk about the Fire Department’s budget took center stage at Tuesday evening’s public hearing, where President Steve LeClair said the layoffs and other cuts forced by the mayor’s $90.6 million budget should be a concern to Omahans. Fire Chief Mike McDonnell has recently told council members he thinks cuts could be avoiding by changing the contract.
Meanwhile, council members heard feedback Tuesday on separate proposed change: the end of the city’s office of sustainable development.
This briefcase knows City Hall
A briefcase that got its start at City Hall in 1979 is still alive and kicking — and hauling around the exact same kind of stuff.
Erin Grace has the story of how the briefcase Lou Anderson used as a City Council aide more than three decades ago has become a mainstay of city government, carrying the paperwork that makes the council run. It was used by former council chief of staff Warren Weaver, who recently retired, and is now being used by Jim Dowding, serving as interim chief of staff.
Adorable creature soon legal in Omaha?
Prepare to possibly die of cuteness, Omaha.
The aptly-named “Sugar Glider” a small, omnivorous, arboreal gliding possum (thanks, Wikipedia), may soon be an approved house pet in Omaha. The City Council is considering adding the sugar glider – in addition to (seriously) hedgehogs — to the list of animals that can be licensed in the city. Tiny motorcycles are not expected to be part of the discussion.
We borrowed the picture featured in this post from the “Glider Gossip” message board section of sugarglider.com — one of the many, weird websites we encountered during hours of exhaustive research into the miniature marsupial.