Post Tagged with: "fire contract"

Stothert reviewing McDonnell’s plans

Stothert reviewing McDonnell’s plans

In case you missed it, (or are now thoroughly confused about what’s going on,) here’s the latest in the ongoing squabble between Mayor Jean Stothert and Fire Chief Mike McDonnell…

Wednesday, Stothert, just back from a trip to Chicago to discuss the city’s bond rating, said she hadn’t had time to review three proposals offered up by McDonnell over the weekend.

The mayor said McDonnell was looking to be reimbursed for tuition he paid for graduate school classes, among other additions to an original agreement. McDonnell, meanwhile, said he’s willing to go with a plan that’s more or less identical to the tentative agreement signed next week.

Stothert said it could be the end of the week before she’s ready to offer a final opinion on McDonnell’s three plans.

September 5, 2013 Comments Read More
McDonnell under investigation, deal breaks down

McDonnell under investigation, deal breaks down

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:

August 26, 2013 Comments Read More
“Negotiate versus litigate.” — Fire Chief Mike McDonnell, on solving a budget standoff

“Negotiate versus litigate.” — Fire Chief Mike McDonnell, on solving a budget standoff

Read more here.

August 7, 2013 Comments Read More
Parties dig in

Parties dig in

You should read World-Herald columnist Erin Grace‘s take on Tuesday’s primary — written from McFly’s Tavern, stronghold of the local fire union.

“Officially, tonight is a primary contest for mayor,” Grace wrote. “Unofficially, these firefighters believe, it’s a referendum on Local 385, the 660-member firefighters union.”

All this comes as Jean Stothert and Jim Suttle start a six-week sprint to the general election by consolidating their parties’ support and angling for their former rivals’ supporters.

Suttle gathered Democratic city, county and state representatives at his campaign office Thursday in a show of force. Stothert picked up endorsements from key GOP rivals Wednesday, and both sides angled for supporters of the primary race’s lone independent, State Sen. Brad Ashford.

It’s a first signal of just how partisan this race could become.

April 4, 2013 Comments Read More
Fire training comes with new costs

Fire training comes with new costs

The Omaha Fire Department has begun using a new – and costlier — training system required under the fire contract approved by the city in December.

It works like this: Instead of getting paramedic training in during part of regular, 24-hour shifts, a group of firefighters will be relieved from their duties to attend training classes full time.

As a result, the department is filling those spots with other firefighters working overtime hours. That’s a change from the past, which firefighters working their regular shifts could help pick up the slack, or just work a few hours of overtime.

January 14, 2013 Comments Read More
Fire contract is divider for mayoral candidates

Fire contract is divider for mayoral candidates

Though it’s already been approved by the council and signed by the mayor, Omaha’s new fire contract is still the subject of a heated debate between the people running for the city’s top job.

Only two of the five candidates — Mayor Jim Suttle and City Councilwoman Jean Stothert — were directly involved in efforts to draw up a contract, but just about everyone has something to say.

Businessman David Nabity and former City Councilor Dan Welch have both critiqued the timing of Stothert and Suttle’s announcements related to the contract. They’ve said Suttle waited too long to point out that the council-negotiated contract would create a $6 million hole in the city budget. And Stothert, they said, announced the successful negotiation of a contract weeks before sharing the details with the public.

December 24, 2012 Comments Read More
Fire contract hearing draws few comments

Fire contract hearing draws few comments

The crowd at the City Council’s public hearing on the tentative labor contract between the city and the fire union was fairly small, with just four supporters and four opponents addressing the council.

Just about everyone who spoke said they were not completely sold on the plan, which comes with an average wage increase of 1.6 percent per year and is projected to save Omaha’s police and fire pension fund $822 million over the next 50 years. Some said the city is still giving up too much in the negotiation and that the contract shouldn’t mention controversial staffing provisions.

But Mark McQueen, the attorney who negotiated the deal on behalf of the city, argued against those points and others he said have been made by members of the public.

“If the City Council does not agree to the staffing terms that I’ve just described, you don’t have a contract,” McQueen said. “It’s that simple. And without a contract, you don’t have pension reform of any type and you don’t have health care reform to the level we’ve achieved.”

The council is scheduled to vote on the issue next week.


December 12, 2012 Comments Read More
Contract will be issue in mayor’s race

Contract will be issue in mayor’s race

It’s in the council’s hands now.

A labor deal with the city’s firefighters union, years in the making, passed a key step in the approval process on Thursday.

Tom Mulligan, president of the body, has said the deal likely has the votes needed for approval.

There’s an election next year, though, so Omaha’s mayoral candidates are jumping to weigh in on the deal.

Businessman Dave Nabity and former City Councilman Dan Welch have attacked what they say are overly generous or wasteful provisions in the tentative deal. That puts them at odds with Councilwoman Jean Stothert, who is also running for mayor and helped broker the proposed contract. State Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha, another mayoral candidate, said the city should approve the deal but also revive an independent commission to examine further pension reforms and address separate concerns with firefighter staffing.

Mayor Jim Suttle‘s office said it was still reviewing the overall financial implications of the proposed agreement.

This won’t be the last mention of the fire contract in the context of the mayor’s race.

November 29, 2012 Comments Read More
Early retirements, big pensions

Early retirements, big pensions

Pension payouts could lead to further scrutiny of police managers contract


Omaha’s last three police chiefs have retired before they turned 50 – Tom Warren and Eric Buske at ages 47 and now Alex Hayes at 48.

World-Herald reporter John Ferak examined Omaha’s turnover at police chief and the impact of the pension payouts in a weekend story.

For those three retirees alone, Omaha’s pension system could make almost $10 million in payments over the rest of their lives.

The payouts are raising eyebrows regarding an issue that already is under intense scrutiny. Omaha’s police and fire pension already is facing an estimated $573 million shortfall.

Some City Council members say they’ll be examining the police managers contract further. Plus, city elections are coming next year, and Councilman Chris Jerram predicts that police and fire contracts will be a major election issue.

“The public is clamoring for more pension reform,” Jerram said in Sunday’s story.


March 12, 2012 Comments Read More
Budget shortfall squabble

Budget shortfall squabble

We broke the news this morning about the city’s year-end 2011 budget shortfall of $740,307.

City Hall reporter Juan Perez Jr. broke it down here and showed the blame game getting started between the Suttle administration and the City Council.

In case you missed it, Mayor Jim Suttle is blaming the council because it didn’t pass the fire contract. Councilman Chris Jerram says the Suttle administration had a costly financial misstep in the fire union dispute.

City Council members came out with a statement this afternoon, saying Suttle’s attempt at placing blame was a “cynical and blatantly political tactic.” Check out the statement here.

And here’s the original press release from the Mayor’s Office taking shots at the council.

February 16, 2012 Comments Read More