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Mayor Jean Stothert | City of Omaha

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One of the largest city-owned properties in Omaha is for sale.  The City of Omaha today announced it will accept proposals to redevelop the Omaha Civic Auditorium site at 17th and Capitol.

The Request for Proposals asks for proposals for the acquisition, demolition, design, financing, construction and operation of a mixed-use project.  The nearly nine-acre site was appraised at $10,015,000 (after demolition of the existing building) in November 2012 by Thomas E. Stevens & Associates. The actual sale price will depend on the size and scope of the project and how it conforms to the city’s master plan. “The Civic Auditorium site is one of the city’s largest and prime properties.  Redevelopment of this site continues our commitment to build downtown Omaha into a vibrant residential, commercial and entertainment center,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

The Civic Auditorium opened in 1954 and is currently managed by MECA, the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority.  The City’s management agreement with MECA expires in June.   The City is currently working with several entities to find a new home for events currently held at the Music Hall.  An announcement is expected later this year.  Omaha Park 5, on the southwest corner of the Civic property will remain on the property and will continue to be managed by the City.

Mayor Stothert has met with downtown stakeholders, developers and neighboring businesses to get input on the redevelopment plan.  “We have studied the options for the Civic,” said Mayor Stothert.  “The investment required to repair and upgrade the building is estimated to cost at least $29 million dollars.  The best business decision is to sell it and attract new development to our downtown core.”

The RFP outlines preferred uses for the site, including retail, residential, civic and/or office space.  The site is eligible for Tax Increment Financing.  The City will accept proposals that include public financing assistance, however privately funded plans will get priority. “This is first-class downtown real estate,” said Deputy Chief of Staff for Economic Development Cassie Seagren. “We expect both local and national interest in this site.”

The deadline to submit proposals is June 4, 2014. Bids will be opened June 4.  Interviews with development teams will begin July 18 with a decision expected by August 22.

To review the RFP, visit


Four finalists have been selected after a nationwide search for Omaha’s next Fire Chief.  

Fifteen candidates initially applied for the position, nine passed the preliminary training and experience test and were invited to the second phase of testing, which consisted of a structured interview and an oral presentation.  The testing was coordinated by an outside contractor, IO Solutions and graded by a panel of fire chiefs serving in other cities.

From this testing, four finalists have been identified and their names have been forwarded to Mayor Jean Stothert. The finalists, in alphabetical order, are Assistant Omaha Fire Chief Steve Ausdemore, Assistant Omaha Fire Chief Shane Hunter, Interim Omaha Fire Chief Bernie Kanger and retired Omaha Fire Battalion Chief Joseph Mancuso.

Assistant Chief Ausdemore was hired in 1991.  He has worked as a Firefighter, Firefighter/Paramedic, Captain, Battalion Chief and was promoted to Assistant Chief in 2010.

Assistant Chief Hunter was hired in 1997.  He has worked as a Firefighter, Fire Apparatus Engineer, Captain, Battalion Chief and was promoted to Assistant Chief in 2012.

Interim Chief Kanger was hired in 1991.  He has worked as a Firefighter, Fire Apparatus Engineer, Captain, Battalion Chief and was named interim Chief by Mayor Stothert in August.

Joseph Mancuso retired from the Omaha Fire Department in March 2013.  He was hired in 1992 and worked as a Firefighter, Fire Apparatus Engineer, Captain and retired at the rank of Battalion Fire Chief.

In order to be considered for the job, Mancuso will be required to and has agreed that if selected, he will pay back all pension payments and other benefits received as a result of his retirement.

The City has a contract with IO Solutions to conduct testing for open positions and promotions within Omaha Police and Fire Departments.  The City budgeted $182,000 in 2014 for IO Solutions’ services.

 “A new Fire Chief is critical to moving this department forward in a positive direction,” said Mayor Stothert.  “The selection process has been thorough, fair and objective.  This is a very important position and I look forward to the interviews and selection of a new Chief.”   Mayor Stothert and her Executive Team will interview the four finalists.  A decision is expected to be announced by March 10th.

Mayor Jean Stothert signed an executive order today, creating the Citizen Complaint Review Board.  The board will provide an independent review of citizen complaints against a sworn Omaha police officer. “In the overwhelming majority of circumstances, our police officers use good judgment,” said Mayor Stothert. “When a citizen believes there has been misconduct, this is an opportunity for further review.”

Mayor Stothert, police management and the Omaha Police Officers Association have worked together for months on the structure and responsibilities of the Board.  "The Citizen Review Board provides a layer of accountability and transparency to internal personnel  investigations of the Omaha Police Department,” said Police Chief Todd Schmaderer. “I welcome the review as it extends the public's trust in the police department."

The Mayor will appoint five members to the Citizen Complaint Review Board; one from each police precinct area and one at-large.  There will also be one alternate. Membership applications are available on the Mayor’s website,  Applications are also available in the Mayor’s office, 1819 Farnam, #300.

  • Members must be registered voters and live within the Omaha city limits.
  • No one with a felony arrest or conviction will be appointed to the board.
  • There will be three non-voting advisors to the board; a representative of the OPD Command staff, a representative from the Human Rights and Relations Department, and one representative from the Law Department.
  • Members must participate in orientation and training.
  • Members must sign a confidentiality agreement.

The Board’s role and responsibilities will include:

  • The Board will have jurisdiction to review citizen complaints against a sworn officer if the complaining citizen files a “Request for Review”.  (This form will also be available on the Mayor’s website and in the Mayor’s office after the Board is appointed)
  • Members will review the investigative process and results of the complaint and identify areas of concern.
  • Board members will serve in an advisory capacity only for purposes of reviewing processes and procedures. Members are not decision or policy makers for the City of Omaha.
  • The findings of the Board will be confidential. 

 "The Mayor sought input from all the various interest groups to come up with a fair and impartial process,” said OPOA President John Wells, who participated in the development of the CCRB. 

 “I would like to thank OPOA President John Wells and Police Chief Schmaderer for their input and support of the Citizen Complaint Review Board,” said Mayor Stothert.  “This board will provide broader oversight than a police auditor.  I believe an effective Police Chief is the best police auditor.”

Construction on Crossroads Village could begin this summer. Mayor Jean Stothert and OTB Destination founder Rod Yates have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop the mixed-use development at 72nd and Dodge.  Construction on the $400 million dollar project is expected to begin in June, with the grand opening set for June, 2016. Crossroads Village will include new-to-market retail brands, luxury loft apartments, office space, a hotel, health and yoga club and green space.  

The developer will provide the majority of the funding for Crossroads Village. The city will support the project with a combination of TIF, General Obligation Bonds and sales tax revenue.  “The City has agreed to this unique financing plan to make this development possible,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

The Omaha City Council will consider placing a $50 million bond issue on the May ballot to provide funding for the public infrastructure (streets, sewers, sidewalks, utilities, parking).  This bond issue will not increase property tax rates.  There will be no risk to the taxpayers; the developer will assume all risk for the bonds by funding a reserve fund for bond payments.  City Council President Pete Festersen believes the Council will support the bond issue, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to redevelop one of the most significant commercial properties in the city. It will revitalize the traditional heart of Omaha.”

LB 562, passed by the Nebraska Legislature allows for additional sales tax to be collected only on products purchased at Crossroads Village.  An additional 1.95% sales tax could be added to those purchases.  That money would help pay for development costs.  This is the first time the City of Omaha has used this development tool.

“This project will provide thousands of jobs,” said Mayor Stothert. “Crossroads Village is good for the city, business and consumers.”

The City Council resolution will be on the agenda February 4th.  There will be a public hearing February 11th. 

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert will support legislation commonly called "Ban the Box".  "This is an important step to provide equal employment opportunities," said Mayor Stothert. "This legislation will give all applicants the chance to be considered for jobs in the public sector."

LB932 would prohibit public employers from requiring job applicants to disclose their criminal record on the application.

The City of Omaha does currently ask for the applicant's criminal background on job applications. "We are not opposed to removing the question on our application," said Mayor Stothert.  The city runs criminal background checks only when an applicant has been selected as a finalist for the position.

"We are working hard in Omaha to assist at-risk youth and young adults with job training and placement.  Many of these applicants want and deserve a second chance and have the potential to be good employees," said Mayor Stothert.

Chief of Staff Marty Bilek testified on behalf of the Mayor before the Legislature's Business and Labor Committee Monday.  LB932 was introduced by Lincoln Senator Bill Avery.


The message is clear.  Do your part.

Mayor Jean Stothert participated in Saturday's rally, "Turning Point,  A United Call for Peace and Progress". The Empowerment Network organized the event in response to the recent murder of 5-year-old Payton Benson. Payton was killed ten days ago when a stray bullet pierced the walls of her home, struck and killed her.

"Do your part is a call to action to each of us," said Mayor Stothert.  "If you are here today, it's a commitment to do your part. It will take parents, neighborhoods, teachers, community partners, police officers, business leaders, pastors, elected officials.  It's not one of us. It's all of us."

City Councilman Ben Gray attended the rally with Payton's mother, Tabatha Manning. "Tabatha Manning is amazing," said Gray. "I thought I knew a lot but Tabatha has taught me some things about love, peace and forgiveness.  In love, we are going to move forward to develop our community.  We are going to keep our eye on the prize."

Other families who have lost loved ones spoke emotionally about their loss. In 2012, 16-year-old Eriana Carr was shot and killed.  She was a student at Benson High School.  Her mother spoke at the rally, "My daughter was at home.  It's sad that we don't have answers for these kids.  She loved her community.  I'm willing to do my part."

Someone killed Jamelia Hasseltine in 2011. Her sister told the crowd, "We need to come together with one voice, one demand for the violence to stop."

Police Chief Todd Schmaderer has pledged the Omaha Police Department would work non-stop on Payton's case.  Today, he said thanks to the community stepping forward to provide information, six people are in jail in connection with this case.  The Chief said he is confident the case will be solved.  "I want this to be a case that crystalizes the way we work together.  I'll let my actions down the road speak for me," said Chief Schmaderer.  

Others attending the rally included City Council President Pete Festersen, Councilmembers Aimee Melton and Ben Gray, state senators, teachers, OPS Board of Education President Justin Wayne, pastors and other community partners.

"At the end of the day, we all want the same thing," said Douglas County Treasurer and Empowerment Network Board Chairman John Ewing. "No one should have to experience the loss of their child or parent to gun violence."

Mayor Stothert re-signed the Empowerment Network Pledge for Peace displayed at the rally, "We are here today at the end of a week of events to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, to call for peace and progress, to recommit to the pledge many of us have signed.  I believe Dr. King would ask each of us here today to make our city a place of peace. I ask each of you to do your part."


The Omaha Planning Department announced a  reorganization today, to improve customer service, efficiency and training of the city housing inspectors.

The Housing Inspection (Code Enforcement) section will move from the Housing and Community Development Division to the Building and Development Division.  This change will bring all code enforcement functions into the same division.  All inspectors will report to Assistant Planning Director and Superintendent of the Building and Development Division Jay Davis.

“This is part of our ongoing evaluation of the Planning Department.  We have listened to input from property owners about housing inspections and the need to improve our process,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.  “This change will address  complaints and provide better, faster service and follow-up.”

The housing inspectors will work closely with the building, electrical, plumbing and mechanical inspectors.  The Planning Department has written standard inspection procedures and policies, created easier to understand code-based notices and will expand the use of Accela software. (Accela is a web-based permitting system.  Citizens, builders and developers can log onto to apply for and track building permits and inspections.)

 Inspectors will also participate in a new training program. “We will be implementing a very aggressive  program  to provide inspectors with the education and tools to properly perform their jobs.  Our work is too complex to not equip the inspectors with the proper tools,” said Davis.

The Planning Department will form a Task Force of property owners, neighborhood groups and community organizations to help develop new strategies, programs and processes to make Omaha  a safe and  healthy community. 

On the opening day of the Nebraska Legislature, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert shared her 2014 goals and legislative priorities with state senators.

Mayor Stothert invited senators to lunch Wednesday to pledge her commitment to work with the unicameral on issues important to the City of Omaha and the taxpayers. “We are all partners, working together for positive changes in our communities and our state.  I look forward to working with all of you,” said Mayor Stothert.

The Mayor told the group her top priority will always be public safety and the arrest of Nikko Jenkins has led to the important discussion about prison reform.  “We support legislation to keep prisoners convicted of violent crimes from automatically getting “good time” for early release,” said Mayor Stothert. “We have made recommendations on reforms that would require monitored, supervised release for violent offenders, to improve public safety in Omaha and other cities across Nebraska.”

Mayor Stothert and Police Chief Todd Schmaderer support GPS monitoring of violent offenders after release to provide additional protection for the community and more opportunities for prisoners to make a successful transition after prison.

In 2014, the City will also evaluate methods to pay the enormous cost of the CSO project without causing excessive hardship to citizens. Mayor Stothert supports a proposal from Omaha Senator Heath Mello to allow cities with unfunded mandates to receive incremental increases in sales tax revenue to help pay for the sewer project.

City Council President Pete Festersen and council members Garry Gernandt, Rich Pahls  and Aimee Melton attended the lunch at the Nebraska Club in Lincoln.   Mayor Stothert also introduced Police Chief Todd Schmaderer, Planning Director James Thele, Public Works Director Bob Stubbe, Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Dana Markel, Finance Director Steve Curtiss, City Clerk Buster Brown, City Council Chief of Staff Jim Dowding and City of Omaha Lobbyist Jack Cheloha. 

The Omaha City Council will consider a series of proposed bond issues to be included on the May 2014 ballot. First reading on the ordinances is Tuesday January 7. The public hearing will be held January 14.

The City issues General Obligation bonds to fund projects in the Capital Improvement Plan. If approved by the City Council, Omaha voters will be asked to give the City the authority to issue bonds in the amount of $92,024,000.  The bonds would fund projects in five areas; streets and highways ($47,375,000), sewers ($13,616,000), parks and recreation ($14,511,000), public safety ($6,250,000) and public facilities ($10,272,000).

"Approval of these bonds will not raise your taxes due to previously issued bonds being retired," said Mayor Jean Stothert. "Omaha voters have approved bond issues for more than thirty years.  I encourage the City Council to pass these proposals and give voters the opportunity to vote.”

Approval of these bonds will allow the city to proceed with multiple projects including:

  • Purchase of new fire trucks and medic units
  • Rehabilitation of older city parks including Adams, Levi Carter and Hanscom
  • Multiple road widening and resurfacing projects
  • Redevelopment of 16th Street, Dodge to Leavenworth

 Voters approved similar bond issues in 2000, 2006 and 2010. (see attachment for bond history)

 A vote for the bonds would give the City the authority to issue bonds and sell bonds until December 31, 2022.


Omaha’s busiest intersection will be resurfaced this year, thanks to the continuing partnership with the State of Nebraska to improve state highways within the Omaha city limits.

Governor Dave Heineman announced today that the City of Omaha will receive $6 million in funds.  The majority of the money will be used at the 90th and West Dodge intersection.   The most recent traffic survey (October 2011) shows 107,596 vehicles drive through the intersection daily.

 “You can imagine the wear and tear on the road and the need for repairs,” said Mayor Jean Stothert, at a news conference at the State Capitol. “Without this help from the state, the project would not be possible right now.”    

This is the second time in six months the State has awarded funds to Omaha for road repair.  In July, Governor Heineman announced the City would receive $6.4 million; those funds paid for ten resurfacing projects, including Dodge Street from 52nd to Turner Boulevard. That work  started in September and was completed in October, more than a month ahead of schedule.

The 90th and Dodge project is scheduled to begin after the 4th of July. “This will be a major resurfacing project that will require a lot of coordination,” said Public Works Director Bob Stubbe.  “It will be very similar to the work completed last fall on Dodge Street in the midtown area.”

“Taxpayers expect and deserve good roads,” said Mayor Stothert. “The additional six million dollars allows us to continue these road improvements in 2014. Thanks to our partnership with the State of Nebraska, we can complete major projects on state highways and dedicate our own city funds to improve neighborhood streets.”

Four other Nebraska cities will receive state money for road repair, including Lincoln.  “I want to give the money to these mayors.  I know they’ll do a good job,” said Governor Heineman. “Omaha and Lincoln are on the move and that’s great news for Nebraska.”

Besides the 90th and Dodge intersection, these other roads will be repaired or resurfaced:

Dodge Street, 68th to 84th

Dodge Street, 12th to 22nd

Dodge Street, 26nd to 68th

Dodge Street, Farnam to Happy Hollow Blvd.

Dodge Street, Turner Blvd to 22nd

90th Street, Dodge to Embassy Drive

Military Avenue 64th to 66th

Military Avenue 66th to 72nd

Military Avenue westbound 72nd to Fort

Military Avenue eastbound 78th to Fort

The projects were selected by the Nebraska Department of Roads and  Omaha Public Works.  To qualify for the state funds, the work must be done on a state-owned highway within the city limits, the road must need repair and be ready for construction.