Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog
OMAHA—Less job security for future fire chiefs, a new calendar for city elections and a crackdown on conflicts-of-interest are just some of the changes to the city charter—in effect the city’s constitution—proposed by Mayor Jean Stothert.
As Nebraska Watchdog first reported Stothert is asking that the mayor be given the authority to fire the fire chief no strings attached—the mayor already has the authority to hire the chief.
Initially Stothert said she wanted the OK to axe the police chief as well but that move is not listed in Stothert’s proposal to the 25-member Charter Review Committee.
The future of the city’s chiefs came under growing scrutiny this year as Stothert and then-Fire Chief Mike McDonnell wrangled over McDonnell’s good-bye deal.
Although Stothert wanted McDonnell gone from the day she took office in June, her hands were tied because the fire and police chiefs have civil service protection meaning she couldn’t send McDonnell packing without “cause” — such as insubordination or incompetence.
Stothert is also pushing to move the elections for mayor and city council to coincide with state elections, such as governor, which are held in even numbered years.
As for those conflicts-of-interest Stothert would prohibit people from being named to city boards and commissions if they have a “personal or business contract” with the board they’d be serving on.
Nebraska Watchdog first reported that while Jaime Gutierrez Mora was on the MECA board her janitorial firm had a multi-million dollar contract with the CenturyLink Center which is run by MECA.
Other changes sought by Stothert include:
- Changing the budget cycle from one year to every two years.
- Pension reforms would remove a requirement that the city and its employee make “substantially equal” payments to the workers’ pension accounts. Stothert also wants to allow for defined contribution retirement plans such as a 401K.
All proposals have to be approved by the Charter Committee which sends them to the city council for its OK before going to the voters—possibly next May—for final approval.
Contact Joe Jordan at email@example.com
To subscribe to news updates from Nebraska Watchdog at no charge, click here