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Mayor Jean Stothert | City of Omaha

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For the last nine months, we have been working on a 3-year strategic plan and now, at the end of the year, we are reporting our results in the 2014 Report Card, evaluating the results of the first year.

The plan was developed with all department directors, members of my staff and facilitated by the Silverstone Group.  The team met for the first time in March to identify strategic priorities and has met quarterly to measure successes and determine next steps.

A strategic plan clearly outlines our vision and priorities.  It creates the benchmark and requires us to consistently review progress and hold ourselves accountable to the taxpayers and our employees.

This strategic plan identifies priority areas which compliment the goals I set for my administration: improve public safety, manage the city budget, support economic growth and job creation and provide excellent customer service. 

The six strategic priorities are:

  • Enhance public safety and the perception of safety
  • Optimize the delivery of city services
  • Maximize the development of disadvantaged areas
  • Enhance and expand job and business growth
  • Build trust through managed communication
  • Influence change in state policy

The 2014 Report Card lists accomplishments in each category of the plan including:  

  • Graduation of the 2014 police recruit class
  • Reduction in homicides and high clearance rate in homicide investigations
  • Completed test of body cameras for Omaha Police Department
  • Successful contract negotiations with all civilian unions resulting in unprecedented pension reform
  • Created community Ebola response plan
  • Passed 2015 budget with property tax rate cut
  • Managed 2014 budget with projected end of year surplus
  • Increased street resurfacing and repairs
  • Established Active Living Advisory Committee
  • Created Omaha Land Bank
  • Selected developer for Civic Auditorium site
  • Large residential and business park annexation package
  • Increased service requests by Mayor’s Hotline
  • Completed Town Hall meeting schedule

The planning team met in December to develop goals in each area for 2015.  Strategic planning is an ongoing process and we will continue to chart our successes, identify areas for improvement, and report to the public. 

 

 

2014 STRATEGIC PLAN REPORT CARD

 

 

 

Enhance Public Safety and the Perception of Safety

 

  • Police recruit class graduated in August
  • Over 20% reduction in homicides over last several years
  • 76% clearance rate for homicides
  • Established Citizen Complaint Review Board for police oversight
  • Increased Crime Stoppers rewards
  • Completed test of body cameras for OPD
  • Expansion of Shotspotter technology
  • Expanded communication through social media and OPD website
  • Completed EMS training contract with Metro Community College
  • Revised mutual aid agreements with surrounding communities to improve response times
  • Created community Ebola response plan
  • Revised Omaha Fire Department patient transport plan to address hospital trauma changes
  • Evaluated and updated police officer and firefighter selection processes to assure qualified, diverse candidates
  • Participated in U.S. Attorney’s Task Force on Hate Crimes

 

 

 

 

 

Optimize Delivery of City Services

 

  • Reached contract agreement with all civilian unions: Local 251,Functional Employees Group and CMPTEC

 

  • 2014 budget surplus expected to exceed $9 million
  • Resurfaced 32.68 lane miles of Omaha streets with asphalt, completed $4.1 million worth of concrete replacement
  • Completed garbage, recyclable and yard waste resectoring plan
  • Cleaned/painted graffiti at 2,000 locations 
  • Completed Saddle Creek Area Sewer Separation Project
  • Reorganized Planning Department to improve service, efficiency and training of housing inspectors
  • Demolished  89 unsafe homes and buildings
  • Open handicapped accessible facility at Lake Cunningham
  • Construction completed on All Play complex at Benson Park
  • Opened Morton splash ground
  • Completed improvements at Levi Carter Park including shoreline, ball fields and pavilion
  • Remodel front entrances to Camelot and AV Sorensen Community Centers 
  • Opened Trap and Skeet facility at Seymour Smith Park
  • Established Active Living Advisory Committee
  • Initiated first City employee Wellness Program
  • Instituted policies for City healthcare benefits to comply with Affordable Care Act
  • Managed employee and retiree healthcare expenses resulting in increases below industry average.
  • Instituted new reporting to manage workers compensation claims
  • Automated and streamlined employee pre-employment, onboarding and seasonal hiring processes; instituted online employment applications
  • Updated four Human Resources policies approved by City Council
  • Instituted pre-employment drug tests for all new hires
  • Sponsored 50th anniversary celebration of Civil Rights law
  • Conducted 20 fair housing tests for ADA compliance with the Fair Housing Center of Nebraska and Iowa
  • Filed 82 employment, housing, public accommodation or other discrimination charges
  • Received $313,000 from HUD for initiation of housing discrimination programs with community partners
  • Increased library hours
  • Announced partnership with Heritage Services and Metropolitan Community College to open digital library in 2015
  • Omaha Public Library partnered with prisoner re-entry programs to provide resources and services (job search, literacy)
  • Developed library programs targeting at-risk youth to provide positive alternatives
  • Provided start-up funding for Neighborhood Alliances

 

 

 

Maximize Development in Disadvantaged Areas  

 

  • Passed Land Bank ordinance, Appointed Board of Directors, elected officers and held initial meeting
  • Completed application for federal Promise Zone designation
  • Prospect Village Redevelopment Plan-More than 20 homes demolished or in process of renovation; more than 24 properties purchased for new home construction, formed neighborhood association, presented programs including parenting and healthy families. 
  • Introduced  Deer Park Redevelopment Plan
  • Begin news search for industrial site in north Omaha
  • TIGER grant awarded to Omaha by U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Established benchmarks for Black Male Achievement initiative

 

Enhance and Expand Job and Business Growth

 

  • Selected Tetrad to develop Civic Auditorium site
  • Increased funding for 2015 Step-Up Summer Jobs program to $500,000
  • Increased funding for Heartland Workforce Solutions
  • Entered into agreement with Urban Land Institute and City of Council Bluffs to develop the riverfront
  • Omaha selected to participate in ULI Rose Fellowship
  • Completed review of Small and Emerging Business program.  Initiated task force and other strategies to improve diversity of contractors and employees working on CSO projects.
  • Removed “the box” from City of Omaha job applications
  • Annexed 13 residential areas and 4 business parks

 

 

 

Build Trust Through Managed Communication

 

 

 

  • Increased service requests to Mayor’s Hotline to monthly average 1,300
  • Seven Town Hall meetings held in September and October
  • Mayor’s Facebook followers up from 6456 to 7271 (May-December)
  • Mayor’s Twitter followers up from 2378 to 3262 (May-December)
  • Template design completed for City of Omaha website redesign
  • Implemented user friendly open enrollment process for City benefits
  • Through partnership with Southern Sudan Community Association, translated and printed fair housing publications, brochures and educational
  • Held public meetings on the CSO Long Term Control Plan, and next phase CSO projects 
  • Held meetings with Commercial and Industrial Ratepayers on sewer rate ordinance

 

 

 

Influence Change in State Policy

 

  • Submitted long-term control plan update for CSO program to Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
  • Developed 2015 Legislative package; passed by City Council 

The employees of the City of Omaha and Douglas County celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Friday.

Mayor Jean Stothert  called on City and County workers to be leaders in their public and personal lives.  “We all have the ability to lead, publicly as Dr. King did, or quietly, without fanfare or headlines. I encourage each of you to look for opportunities that allow you to be a leader,” said Mayor Stothert.

Two employees received awards for living Dr. King’s dream through their actions, words and values.  City and county employees nominated co-workers for the recognition.

The 2015 award recipients are Omaha Police Officer Kenneth Fox and Kimberly Ward, who is employed at the Criminal Justice Center for Douglas County Corrections Work Release.

Officer Fox is currently assigned to the gang unit and has served on the force for eight years.  He is the co-founder and Treasurer of the Black Police Officers Association.  The Black Police Officers Association was formed to provide a support and mentoring for officers and community members. 

Officer Fox was nominated by Lt. Nicolas Yanez who wrote, “Officer Fox has not only committed his life to public service but he has also been committed to helping the community he serves.  He is an outstanding example of what this award stands for and the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King.”

In 2010, the Omaha Police Foundation recognized Officer Fox with the Officer of the Year award for saving a man trapped in a burning house.

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer calls Officer Fox a tremendous representative of the Omaha Police Department. “His is a leader within  OPD by the way he carries himself and extends his leadership to the community representing the ideals of community policing."

Ward is also an adjunct instructor at Metro Community College and the State Director for Zeta Phi Beta. She aspires to be a judge.

Keynote speaker Douglas County Corrections Director Dr. Mark Foxall told the audience, “I was around in 1968. I can remember the day after Dr. King was killed. I remember walking to school with friends asking,  ‘Who will be our leader now?’  The leadership was not Dr. King, the leadership was with us.  I was just too young to know it at the time.”

Today’s celebration was coordinated by the City of Omaha and Douglas County Human Relations Departments.

Beginning this morning, (Wednesday January 14, 2015)  the Omaha Fire Department will transport critical trauma patients only to Nebraska Medicine for emergency care.  Following a decision by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Nebraska Medicine is now the only Level One Trauma Center in the state of Nebraska. The Omaha Fire Department joins dozens of other agencies in this decision.

The State notified CHI Health this week that Creighton University Medical Center did not meet several required standards to be designated as a Level One Trauma Center. In a letter to CHI Creighton, Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Acierno wrote, “Based on your failure to meet these standards, your application is denied.”

“Our decision is based solely on the state’s actions and will have no effect on public safety,” said Fire Chief Bernie Kanger.  “We are providing the best level of outcome for our patients.”

The Level One designation is the highest a hospital can receive.  Omaha’s Children’s Hospital is a Level Two Trauma Center. Omaha Fire EMS Chief Lloyd Rupp said, “The trauma designation assures us as providers that certain standards are met and maintained.  Without the designation, we have no idea of the services a hospital is able to provide to patients.”

Kanger says the decision by the Midwest Protocol Committee, which includes Omaha Fire, suburban fire departments and private ambulance services in Douglas, Sarpy, Washington and Pottawattamie Counties, applies only to critical trauma cases.  Medical patients and less severe trauma candidates will still be able to choose a hospital, including CHI/Creighton for their care.

Chief Kanger says the Omaha Fire Department responds to an average of 120 trauma calls each month, providing critical pre-hospital care in the field and transporting patients to the hospital. 

“If CHI Creighton’s status changes, we will re-evaluate,” said Chief Kanger.  “Patient care must be our priority.”

 

Following a boarding house fire last month, the Omaha Fire and Planning Departments are considering a city ordinance to identify and inspect similar properties. Two residents of the boarding house at 22nd & M died in the fire on December 23rd.  

The ordinance could include property registration, annual inspections, and educational programs for property owners and tenants.  It would apply to boarding houses, transient living facilities, Bed and Breakfasts and sorority and fraternity houses.

“This has moved to a priority level,” said Assistant Planning Director Jay Davis. Davis oversees the Permits and Inspections Division. “These properties are like wolves in sheep’s clothing.”  Without a registration process, Davis says it may never be possible to estimate the number of similar properties in Omaha.

Mayor Jean Stothert said the ordinance would be part of a continuing reorganization and evaluation of the Planning Department and there will be further review before an ordinance is proposed. “We want to be sure it is the right ordinance.  A law is not effective if we can’t enforce it,” said Mayor Stothert.

Inspectors had written numerous code violations at the boarding house at 22nd & “M”, but none serious enough to shut it down, according to Davis. He said the owner was slowly making corrections.

Fire inspectors however, had never been to the house because no complaints have ever been filed with the fire department. The department will issue a policy as early as this week, creating a process for OFD personnel to notify fire inspectors if they are called to a property that could be a boarding house.

“Our first concern on an EMS call is the safety of our patient, but we make 45,000 runs a year and we  have an opportunity to report these structures. We’re looking for them now,” said Fire Chief Bernie Kanger. “Fire and City inspectors work collaboratively. Both our agencies have a vested interest in public safety.”  The fire department is studying ways for tenants and neighbors to anonymously report boarding houses that could be unsafe.

The Omaha Fire Department is still investigating the December 23rd fire and has not yet determined the cause.

The fire and the ordinance under consideration are not related to another ordinance currently before the Omaha City Council.

That ordinance revises code enforcement procedures, developed over the last 18 months and as a result of a lawsuit filed by the Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association in 2013.  It includes a timetable for inspections and compliance, an appeals process and a new Property Maintenance Appeals Board. The members will be appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council.   “This is good public policy, it clarifies the job of the inspector so we are enforcing the code uniformly,” said Mayor Stothert.

The Council will hold a public hearing on Tuesday January 13th; a vote in scheduled for January 27th.

 

  

  

The third and final civilian union has approved a contract offer from the City which solves the underfunded pension liability and achieves unprecedented pension reform.

The vote by CMPTEC members makes it a “clean sweep”, with all civilian bargaining units agreeing to a cash balance pension plan for new employees hired after January 1. “For the first time, city employees are moving away from the standard defined benefit pension plan,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

Pension reform was the number one priority during negotiations with all three civilian bargaining groups, CMPTEC, Local 251 and the Functional Employees Group. A fourth group, AEC, (civilian managers and professionals) which is not represented by a bargaining unit, will also receive the same benefits. 

The five-year agreement allows current employees to remain in the existing pension plan with reduced pension benefits and an extension of the number of years required to achieve normal retirement.  The City also agreed to increase its contributions to the pension fund by 7% over the five-year agreement. The agreement also includes a 9% increase over the five-year period, including a 1% one-time lump sum supplement for 2013.

“I am grateful to the membership, the union negotiators and our negotiating team led by Mark McQueen and Steve Kerrigan  for agreements that are good for our employees and the taxpayers,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

The Personnel Board has already approved the Local 251 agreement; a special board meeting will be held in January to approve the remaining agreements.  The City Council must also approve the contracts.

The agreements will be in effect through 2017.

Another civilian union has reached a tentative agreement with the City, nearly identical to the agreement ratified last month by Local 251, the City’s largest civilian union.  

The Functional Employees Group and the Teamsters Local 554 represents administrative and clerical employees and has scheduled a vote on the tentative agreement early next week.

The five-year agreement includes a cash balance pension plan.  New employees hired on or after January 1, 2015 will participate in this plan.  Current employees will remain on the existing defined benefit pension plan with reduced pension benefits and an increase in  the number of years required to achieve normal retirement.  The City also agreed to increase its contributions to the pension fund by 7% over the five-year agreement.

The agreement also includes a 9% hourly wage increase over the five-year period, including a 1% one-time lump sum supplement for 2013, and a one-time lump sum supplement for ’13 and ’14 due to overpayment into the pension system in those years by the members.

“This agreement is another important step toward solving the unfunded pension liability and I thank the membership for their support,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “The Functional Employees Group and the Teamsters Union Local 554 understand the importance of working together.”    

“It’s been a long time coming. I am pleased with the agreement that was reached between the Functional Employees Group, the Teamsters Union Local 554 and the City of Omaha. This is the first step to ensure that there will be a pension system for civilian employees, and is along the lines of what other cities across the nation are doing to secure their pension systems.   This is a fair agreement for the employees and the City,” said Val Johnson, President of the Functional Employees Group.

In addition, Mayor Stothert will extend the same wage and pension terms to the AEC group, the  civilian managers and professionals who are not represented by a collective bargaining agent.

CMPTEC, which represents approximately 375 civilian employees, is now the sole civilian union holdout to the Mayor’s proposed pension reform.  The CMPTEC union rejected the City’s offer last month, but is scheduling another vote on the City’s offer sometime in the next few weeks.  Litigation will follow in the Court of Industrial Relations if the CMPTEC Union refuses the same terms that have already been approved by the other civilian bargaining units.

The Omaha Land Bank met for the first time Monday to elect officers, discuss operating procedures and set a meeting schedule.

Mayor Jean Stothert appointed the board in September.  She welcomed the members to the initial meeting, reinforcing the goals of the Land Bank. "We have an important opportunity and responsibility to make an impact in our city," said Mayor Stothert. "There are thousands of vacant properties in Omaha; many are dangerous, they attract crime and pose fire hazards.  The families who live next door and across the street have an expectation that we will make their neighborhoods safe again.  It's important we ask for input and listen to community feedback." 

The board elected Tom McLeay as Chairman. McLeay is President of Clarity Development Company, a partner at Smith, Gardner & Slusky Law Firm, and a member of the Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association.

Jamie Berglund will serve as Vice-Chair.  Berglund is a member of the Omaha Housing Authority Board of Directors.  She is employed by the Great Omaha Chamber as Senior Director of Community Development.

The Board elected Spencer Danner as Treasurer.  Danner is a Community Reinvestment Officer with Mutual of Omaha Bank.  He serves on the Omaha 100 Board of Directors. 

There are seven voting members of the board; McLeay, Berglund, Danner, Ken Johnson, Randy Lenhoff, Scott Semrad and Cathy Lang.

Johnson is President and Managing Member of K.E. Johnson Consulting, LLC.  He serves on the Board of Directors for 75 North Redevelopment Corporation and the Omaha Small Business Network, Inc.  Johnson is a retired City of Omaha employee.  He worked for 20 years as the Economic Development Manager.

Lenhoff is the Chief Executive Officer of Seldin Company and Chairman and CEO of World Group LLC.  He has been a licensed real estate broker in Nebraska since 1980.

Semrad is the co-founder and Manager of Urban  Village Development Inc.  The company has renovated and managed more than 20 apartment buildings since it was founded in 2008.

Lang is a member of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce.  She is the Chief Operating Officer and Vice-President of Accelerate Nebraska. Previously, Lang was Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Commissioner of Labor.

Mayor Stothert also named five non-voting members: Mike Riedmann, President NP Dodge Real Estate Sales Inc.,  Julie Stavneak, J. Development Company, Julia Plucker, Attorney, Heartland Strategy Group, John Heine, Commercial Real Estate Broker, Investors Realty and Diane Battiato, Douglas County Register of Deeds.

The Board also authorized the City law department to draft suggested bylaws, policies and procedures which will be reviewed by the Board.

The Omaha Land Bank is the first in the state of Nebraska, authorized by state law and created by city ordinance earlier this year. Mayor Stothert told the board, "Our actions will be watched, we must set an example through our work."

City Council President Pete Festersen and Vice-President Ben Gray both thanked the board members for participating.  Gray said, "Its important you see how key your job is".  Festersen told the board, "A very important part of what you do is to engage neighborhoods".

The board will meet again January 14th at 9:00 am at City Hall, 1819 Farnam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Jean Stothert has appointed seven volunteer members to the new Active Living Advisory Committee.  The Mayor established the committee by Executive Order.  “The members of this committee have diverse professional backgrounds and personal interests.  The committee will provide an opportunity for community input and make recommendations to the City as we work together to create safe, accessible transportation and recreation options,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

The committee will be chaired by Julie Harris, Live Well Omaha Program Manager.  The committee members are:

  • Ben Turner, Omaha resident, Omaha B-cycle Program Director 

Under Ben’s leadership, B-cycle has expanded to a two-state bike-sharing program.  He isSecretary of Omaha Bikes and Board President of the Bicycle Union Mentoring Project.

  • Andy Wessel, Omaha resident, Douglas County Health Department

Andy is a Community Health Planner and has been involved in the Healthy Community Design Partnership, Douglas County Putting Prevention to Work, the Community Health Improvement Plan and the Walking Action Core Team. He represents Douglas County Health on the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

  • Mark Stursma, Omaha resident, Planning Director-City of Papillion

Mark is a city planner, with previous career experience in trail and pedestrian design. He is a member of the I-80 Council, the Transportation Technical Advisory Committee and a cycling club member.

  • Christopher Rolling, Omaha resident, Civil Engineer, Olsson Associates

Christopher is a bicycle commuter.  His professional work includes sharrow design, traffic engineering studies, pedestrian routes and public transportation infrastructure.

  • Tom Everson, Omaha resident, Founder- Keep Kids Alive Drive 25

Tom founded the traffic safety non-profit and is a trained facilitator for national and regional traffic safety conferences.

  • Michelle Bandur, Omaha resident, Chair-Television/New Media Program Iowa Western Community College

Michelle is a broadcast and print journalist.  She is a triathlete, runner and ironman competitor.

A representative from the Mayor’s office, and the Omaha Planning, Public Works, and Parks Departments will also serve on the committee.  The committee is expected to meet for the first time in January.

 

A one-of-a-kind library will open next year at 72nd and Dodge.  Heritage Services has announced plans to develop the first digital library in Omaha.

“Something very different is about to happen at 72nd and Dodge,” said Walter Scott, Heritage Services co-founder and chairman.  “People want access to useful technology and as a community, we should provide access to these resources.  The digital library, a library of the 21st century, will help position the Omaha community as a leader in access to, and understanding of, the digital world in which we all live.”

The library will open in the fall of 2015 in the former Borders Bookstore on the southwest corner of the intersection.  It will be operated by Community Information Trust, a non-profit organization formed by Heritage Services.  Heritage Services has invested in numerous projects supporting arts, education and sports in Omaha. “Heritage Services is a tremendous asset to our City,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.  “We are grateful for the investments in our community.  The digital library is another example of Omaha being a leader in technology, philanthropy and community service.” 

“All Omahans will benefit from increased access to all the good things technology can provide, the opportunity to learn, explore and create,” said Heritage Services board member Michael McCarthy.

The library will  feature individual computer stations with access to databases from libraries around the world, children’s areas for interactive story times, innovation labs, and production areas featuring 3-D printers.  Metropolitan Community College will be a partner providing classes and programs.

The library will be funded with private donations, most of the services will be free.

 

 

  

The City of Omaha will take two immediate steps following the surprising and disappointing ruling in Omaha Police Union Local 101, IUPA, AFL-CIO, aka Omaha Police Officers Association vs. City of Omaha. 

The Union filed suit in June 2014, alleging the City did not provide written notice to open contract negotiations and therefore, the current labor agreement, which expired in 2013, had automatically rolled over to the end of 2014.  In a ruling issued Wednesday, November 26th, Douglas County District Court Judge Joseph Troia ruled "the agreement rolled over into 2014". 

The City will appeal the Court's decision regarding the 2014 rollover and has invited the Union to begin negotiations for 2015. "An appeal is necessary to protect the City's right to achieve additional pension reform in 2014," said Mayor Jean Stothert. "From the outset, we informed the OPOA that pension reform was one of our top priorities.  Addressing the unfunded pension liability cannot wait.  The OPOA must work with us, not look for gotcha tactics to delay negotiations." 

During the two-day trial in October, testimony showed that OPOA President John Wells offered to extend the current contract for one year in February 2014 and then exchanged counter-proposals with the City in April and May before the Union abruptly announced that the contract had rolled forward because neither side had given written notice of intent to negotiate in 2014.

By that time, the City had already offered to extend the current agreement for one year provided several conditions were met, including significant pension reform.  The City believes the Union waived the requirement for written notice by participating in these negotiations. The Union characterized the negotiations as a "courtesy" and "listening to commentary" from the City. 

"The Union did not demand written notice of our desire to open negotiations until we made a pension proposal they did not like and did not want to negotiate," said Mayor Stothert.  "Our sole interest is returning to the bargaining table to negotiate a contract that is good for our employees and good for the taxpayers."

The attached November 30, 2014 letter to Union Attorney Michael Dowd requests that the Union announce its available dates for 2015 negotiations.