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Mayor Jean Stothert | City of Omaha

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(January 4, 2018)

Mayor Jean Stothert started the New Year asking for volunteers to mentor Omaha students.

“The new year is a time for resolutions.  Let’s resolve together to make mentoring a priority in Omaha,” said Mayor Stothert.

Every January since 2013, Midlands Mentoring Partnership has launched a campaign to recruit new mentors. The 2018 goal is 400 new mentor matches.

“As  leaders  in government,  business, and community service,  we  see the value of  mentoring,” said Mayor Stothert. “Today’s students  are tomorrow’s business leaders,  teachers,   skilled workforce,  elected officials,  and parents.  We should all want a stake in their success.”

For the second year, Mayor Stothert provided $10,000 in community service funds to help recruit mentors and help Midlands Mentoring Partnership reach its recruitment goal. For the first time, MMP is leading the Corporate Mentoring Challenge.  Dozens of Omaha companies are participating to create or expand mentoring within their organizations and to encourage their employees to participate in youth mentoring programs.

Since 2013, more than 1,200 new mentors have been recruited during the annual campaign. 

“Mentoring is one of the community’s most powerful tools for elevating the behavior, academic performance and aspirations of youth,” said Midlands Mentoring Partnership Executive Director Deborah Neary.  “It harnesses precious volunteer time to achieve a measurable impact on the path of young lives.”

“I believe so strongly in mentoring that I became one,” said Mayor Stothert.  “I mentored an elementary school student in reading.  “We both learned a lot from our time together. His reading skills improved, and he gained confidence. Today, he is a United States Marine. Mentoring works.”  

For more information or to volunteer, visit www.MentorOmahaNow.org.

(December 4, 2017)

"You are entering into an agency that has community support. This community realizes law enforcement is a vital part of the community, that's the beauty of Omaha." That's the message Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer delivered to 53 recruits on the first day of training.

The class of 53 includes 28 officers who are already certified as law enforcement officers in Nebraska, and have been working for other agencies, including a 26-year veteran of the Nebraska State Patrol. The other 25 recruits are training for their first job in law enforcement.

The class was selected from nearly 1,000 applicants.  "We chose you based on your backgrounds," said Chief Schmaderer. "We are going to put you to the test, the best of the best will be training you."

By 2019, the number of police officers will increase to 900, a record level of staffing. Mayor Stothert and Chief Schmaderer announced the staffing increases and plans to open a fifth police precinct earlier this year. The precinct is expected to open in Elkhorn in 2019.

"The citizens of Omaha regard public safety as our primary responsibility. That’s why it’s our top priority too," said Mayor Jean Stothert.  "It is an honor to be selected for the Omaha Police Academy. We set high standards  of  fairness,  respect,  ethics,  honor, and transparency.  These are the expectations of the citizens you serve."

The recruit class will graduate in 2018. 

"I encourage you to support each other, learn from each other and set an example we can all be proud of," said Mayor Stothert.

(December 4, 2017)

The City of Omaha third quarter financial report shows a growing projected 2017 surplus, now estimated at more than $10 million. The surplus was estimated at $2.6 million at the end of the second quarter.

The current estimate is based on increased revenues, savings in expenses and health care and money held in the Wage Adjustment Account.

Revenue exceeded projections by more than $1 million. Sales tax revenue, motor vehicle taxes, restaurant tax and building permit revenue are over budget.

All departments, except Public Works, and the City Clerk are currently under budget.  The Wage Adjustment Account has a balance of $3.2 million.  The account balance represents money saved in the 2017 contract agreement with the Omaha Police Officers Association.

End of year expense projection highlights:

  • Public Works-over budget $588,032 
  • City Clerk-over budget $17,880 
  • Parks-even
  • Fire-even
  • Police-under $3,592,276
  • Planning- under $307,428

End of year revenue projection highlights:

  • Motor Vehicle Taxes-$1.4 million surplus
  • City Sales and Use Tax- $1.9 million surplus
  • Restaurant Tax - $323,829 surplus
  • Building Permits -$614,684 surplus
  • Utility Occupation Taxes - $4.6 million under (Revenue decline is due to decline in use of land lines)

“This is our fifth consecutive year-end surplus and the result of careful budgeting, expense management and Omaha’s strong economy,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.   

The projected overrun in the City Clerk’s department is due to the retirements of City Clerk Buster Brown and Deputy City Clerk Sandy Moses.  Public Works is over due mainly to increased tipping fees at the Douglas County landfill.  

As required by the City Charter, an end-of-year surplus must be carried over to the 2019 budget or used for cash reserve. 

“We are always forecasting and budgeting for the future,” said Finance Director Steve Curtiss.  “A surplus gives us a head start as we plan for the 2019 budget.”

(November 20)

The Center for Digital Government  has announced the winners of the 2017 Digital Cities Survey. Now in its 17th year, the annual survey recognizes cities using technology to improve citizen services, enhance transparency and encourage citizen engagement.

Omaha moved up to #5 on the list of cities with populations of 250,000-499,999. Last year, Omaha ranked #10.

“This year’s leading digital cities are leveraging technology to connect disadvantaged citizens with critical information and services, promote citizen inclusion in important government processes and share government data with the public,” said Teri Takai, Executive Director of the Center for Digital Government. “Thanks to the efforts of these innovative cities, citizens can now meaningfully interact with city government more easily than in any other time in history. Congratulations to the winners!”

The survey honors cities in five population classifications this year.

 

250,000 – 499,999 population category:
1st City of Virginia Beach, VA
2nd City of Durham, NC
3rd City of Greensboro, NC
4th City of Kansas City, MO
4th City of Sacramento, CA
5th City of Omaha, NE
5th City of Riverside, CA
6th City of Chandler, AZ
6th City of Long Beach, CA
7th City of Atlanta, GA
8th City of Mesa, AZ
9th City of Cincinnati, OH
10th City of Henderson, NV

 

500,000 or more population category:
1st City of Los Angeles, CA
2nd City of Albuquerque, NM
3rd City of San Diego, CA
4th City of Charlotte, NC
4th City of Philadelphia, PA
5th City of Louisville, KY
6th City and County of Denver, CO
6th City of Seattle, WA
7th City of Boston, MA
7th City of Phoenix, AZ
8th City of Austin, TX
8th City of San Jose, CA
9th City of Tucson, AZ
10th City of El Paso, TX 

 

125,000 – 249,999 population category:
1st City of Cape Coral, FL
2nd City of Winston-Salem, NC
3rd City of Norfolk, VA
4th City of Bellevue, WA
5th City of Baton Rouge, LA
6th City of Scottsdale, AZ
7th City of Modesto, CA
7th City of Tacoma, WA
8th City of Augusta, GA
9th City of Pasadena, CA
10th City of Alexandria, VA
10th City of Hampton, VA

 

75,000 – 124,999 population category:
1st City of Lynchburg, VA
2nd City of Boulder, CO
3rd City of Lee's Summit, MO
4th City of Independence, MO
4th City of Roanoke, VA
5th City of Sugar Land, TX
6th City of Pueblo, CO
6th City of Westminster, CO
7th City of Allen, TX
8th City of Columbia, MO
9th City of Brooklyn Park, MN
10th City of Bloomington, IN
10th City of San Leandro, CA 

 

Up to 75,000 population category:
1st City of Tamarac, FL
2nd Village of Pinehurst, NC
3rd Village of Schaumburg, IL
4th City of Punta Gorda, FL
5th City of Williamsburg, VA
6th City of DeSoto, TX
7th City of Ithaca, NY
7th Town of Marana, AZ
8th City of Palo Alto, CA
9th City of North Port. FL
10th City of Salem, VA



SELECTED SURVEY FINDINGS:

2017 Top ten technologies and initiatives which are likely to have an increased focus in the next year:

  1. Cybersecurity
  2. Citizen Engagement/ Experience
  3. Mobility/ Mobile Devices/ Applications
  4. Transparency/ Open Data/ Data Governance
  5. Disaster Recovery/ Continuity of Operations
  6. Hire and Retain Competent IT Personnel
  7. Networking: Broadband & Connectivity
  8. Budget/ Cost Control
  9. Business Intelligence/ Analytics
  10. Cloud Computing


The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government.

The Center is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education.

(November 15, 2017)

 A video produced by Mode Shift and posted on YouTube on November 9 presents a series of inaccurate statements and assumptions about the 52nd and Northwest Radial Highway intersection.

Mode Shift describes the intersection as “poorly designed, mediocre, neglected and unsafe”, with a high speed limit, and unmarked crosswalks “that discourage good behavior”.  The City’s crosswalk painting program is called “absurd and fickle”.

An excerpt from the video states: “Every street design manual considers the painting of all crosswalks at intersections like this to be critical. That the City of Omaha argues against such a basic and well established requirement is disastrous and beyond comprehension”

The City policy provides for regular, scheduled repainting of all school crosswalks twice annually.

There are two marked “school crossing” pedestrian crosswalks on the South and East sides of the intersection, providing the safest route to the neighborhood schools.  The crosswalks at 52nd and Northwest Radial were painted in March and August this year.   In 2016, the same crosswalks were painted in March and October.

In addition, the Nebraska Department of Transportation plans to resurface NW Radial Highway in 2019 (it is designated as Highway 64, a state highway).  The work will include more durable, longer-lasting pavement markings.  Until then, the City will continue to repaint the crosswalks on the semi-annual schedule.

There is also a pedestrian crosswalk with a signal on 52nd Street, north of the intersection to allow pedestrians to cross to and from Gallagher Park.

The Mode Shift video also says, “Most schools get a reduction in the speed limit and flashing lights at crucial times, not just simple school crossing signs.”

A change in the posted speed limit on a state highway requires approval from the Nebraska Department of Transportation.  The Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) recommends flashing lights in front of a school, but not on an adjacent road.  The NW Radial Highway is not in front of any of the schools in the neighborhood.

Mode Shift also complains that the pedestrian crossing signals should be improved to “consider pedestrians a customer and not a nuisance”, and “It’s obvious to pedestrians that these taxing signal restrictions are for the privilege of motorists.” Specifically, the concern is pedestrians may have to wait up to 90 seconds for the signal to change. 

The current “push-button” style pedestrian signals provide a safe crosswalk.  The signals at this intersection are timed with signal phasing across the city’s traffic signal system.

Only two citizen reports have been made about the 52nd and NWS radial intersection, both on Tuesday (11/14) evening. There have no other reports or suggestions for improvements made to the Mayor’s Office, the Public Works Department or to the Omaha City Council.

The Mayor’s Hotline and/or the CitySourced mobile app are the recommended methods to report concerns to any city department. Social media posts do not provide an opportunity for a direct response.

(November 9, 2017)

The Omaha Parks Department has received a $200,000 donation to create an identical replica of the Korea Vietnam Peace Memorial at Memorial Park.

Mayor Jean Stothert and Parks Director Brook Bench made the announcement Wednesday night to an audience of veterans at the 2nd Annual Veterans Shine On Lighting Ceremony at Memorial Park.

“Our philanthropic community supports our public parks very generously,” said Mayor Stothert.   “This monument is a symbol of military service and sacrifice, so we are especially grateful to the donor for acknowledging the Americans who served.”

The original statue was installed in 1976 and restored 20 years ago.  Many veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars donated the funds to pay for the restoration. (http://www.publicartomaha.org/art/info/73/Korea-Vietnam+Peace+Memorial)

The replica will be built by Jensen Conservation Services; work started yesterday and will be completed in 2018.

The City will install sidewalks leading from the park’s circle drive to the new statue.

“Memorial Park has great historic significance and we have a responsibility to maintain and preserve that history,” said Parks Director Brook Bench.  “As a veteran myself, this donation means a lot to me and all veterans of these wars and their families.”

 

(November 1, 2017)

What's A Warple?

Warple Inc. is an Omaha-based technology startup providing live, real-time, always current views of what people think. Warple is also a product, which gives everyone a voice and provides a way to see how their opinion compares to the collective public opinion.

Mayor Jean Stothert will partner with Warple to provide another opportunity for community engagement to measure opinion on issues of current public interest. 

The first five-part Warple is now on the Mayor’s website, https://mayors-office.cityofomaha.org, Facebook.com/jean.stothert  and Twitter @jean_stothert.  It measures support for current and future solid waste collection.

  • I support Oma-Gro composting
  • I would recycle more with a covered container
  • I know about and/or use the recycle drop-off locations
  • I am satisfied with the services provided by Omaha’s solid waste contractor
  • I would like yard waste collected separately from trash/solid waste

“This is a topic that affects everyone,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.  “We have been gathering public opinion for more than a year through telephone surveys, a pilot program, open houses and the Mayor’s Hotline.  Warple is one more way citizens can provide feedback on this important topic.”

The city is currently developing a Request for Bids (RFB) for the next solid waste contract. The current contract with Waste Management expires in 2020. 

"Warple measures public opinion today and monitors changes over time.  We can reach large audiences quickly and provide valuable information to Mayor Stothert and her team," said Warple Founder and CEO Jeff Cahill.  "We all want our opinions to matter.  Warple makes it easy to get involved in decisions that affect our city."

 

About Warple, Inc. - Founded in Omaha, NE in 2016 Warple, Inc. (www.warple.com) is a private company committed to providing new ways to engage communities and bring big data analytics to the individual.  Warple's technology is effortlessly embedded into existing platforms and web sites to engage community where they are.  Warple is committed to social change & empowerment through the democratization of information. Warple is disrupting the polling and survey industry by providing live, real-time, always current views of what people think - at a fraction of traditional costs.

(November 1, 2017)

Warple Inc. is an Omaha-based technology startup providing live, real-time, always current views of what people think. Warple is also a product, which gives everyone a voice and provides a way to see how their opinion compares to the collective public opinion.

Mayor Jean Stothert will partner with Warple to provide another opportunity for community engagement to measure opinion on issues of current public interest. 

The first five-part Warple is now on the Mayor’s website, https://mayors-office.cityofomaha.org, Facebook.com/jean.stothert  and Twitter @jean_stothert.  It measures support for current and future solid waste collection.

  • I support Oma-Gro composting
  • I would recycle more with a covered container
  • I know about and/or use the recycle drop-off locations
  • I am satisfied with the services provided by Omaha’s solid waste contractor
  • I would like yard waste collected separately from trash/solid waste

“This is a topic that affects everyone,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.  “We have been gathering public opinion for more than a year through telephone surveys, a pilot program, open houses and the Mayor’s Hotline.  Warple is one more way citizens can provide feedback on this important topic.”

The city is currently developing a Request for Bids (RFB) for the next solid waste contract. The current contract with Waste Management expires in 2020. 

"Warple measures public opinion today and monitors changes over time.  We can reach large audiences quickly and provide valuable information to Mayor Stothert and her team," said Warple Founder and CEO Jeff Cahill.  "We all want our opinions to matter.  Warple makes it easy to get involved in decisions that affect our city."

 

About Warple, Inc. - Founded in Omaha, NE in 2016 Warple, Inc. (www.warple.com) is a private company committed to providing new ways to engage communities and bring big data analytics to the individual.  Warple's technology is effortlessly embedded into existing platforms and web sites to engage community where they are.  Warple is committed to social change & empowerment through the democratization of information. Warple is disrupting the polling and survey industry by providing live, real-time, always current views of what people think - at a fraction of traditional costs.

(October 24, 2017)

Omaha’s bond ratings will remain unchanged.  Moody’s Investors Service has reaffirmed the current Aa2 rating while Standard & Poor’s AA+ rating will continue.  Both agencies gave the City a stable outlook, citing strong City management and Omaha’s economy, but once again singled out the unfunded pension liability as the significant area of concern. 

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MOODY’S REPORT:

Strong city economy, sizable tax base, low unemployment

Strong city budget management

Increased revenue due to annexation

Labor contracts in place

Annual budget surpluses

Unfunded pension liabilities

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE S & P REPORT

Strong city economy, low unemployment

Strong management, good financial policies, conservative budgeting

Strong budgetary performance

Revenue growth

Annual budget surpluses

Unfunded pension liabilities

 

Both companies acknowledge recent pension reforms negotiated with the civilian, firefighters and police unions but say the city must achieve further pension reform.  

“Our unfunded pension liability prevents us from earning a AAA bond rating,” said Mayor Stothert.  “Despite the progress we have made over the last four years, we must work with our employee unions to further reduce the unfunded pension and do it faster.”

In January, Mayor Stothert announced a four-year agreement with the Omaha Police Officers Association that includes additional employee pension contributions beginning in 2018; the Mayor agreed to match those contributions.  Each will contribute an additional .75%. 

The current agreement the Mayor negotiated with the civilian’s union includes the city’s first cash balance pension plan. New employees hired on or after January 1, 2015 participate in this plan. Employees hired before that date  remain on the existing defined benefit pension plan but with substantially reduced pension benefits and an extension of the number of years required to achieve normal retirement. The City increased its contributions to the pension fund by 7% over the term of the agreement.

The Civilian Pension Fund is currently 55% funded, the Police and Fire Pension Fund is 52% funded. The bond rating companies want both plans funded at 80% or more.

In its Credit Opinion, issued October 18, Moody’s states, “We expect management to continue to work towards pension reform to mitigate the city’s elevated pension burden.”

S & P said, “We could raise the rating if the city is successful in implementing additional pension reforms”. The S & P Report was issued October 19.

“Bond ratings are an important measure of our financial health,” said Finance Director Steve Curtiss.  “As we continue to work on solutions to our pension liability, we are maximizing our ratings.”

Mayor Stothert, Finance Director Steve Curtiss, Comptroller Al Herink, City Attorney Paul Kratz and Chief of Staff Marty Bilek met with both bond companies on October 13.

     

(October 17, 2017)

Omaha will join a growing number of U.S. cities studying and implementing Vision Zero, a strategy to reduce and eliminate traffic deaths.

The Active Living Advisory Committee, created by Mayor Jean Stothert’s Executive Order in 2014, provided an overview of Vision Zero to Mayor Stothert in July. She asked the committee to prepare a recommendation on next steps.  The Committee’s recommendation, received this month, is that Omaha become a Vision Zero City. The committee recommends further study and development of a Vision Zero strategy by a task force created by the Mayor and a timeline to present a final report.

Sweden created the Vision Zero model in 1997.  The idea is now spreading to cities in the United States including Columbia, Missouri, Minneapolis, Austin, Denver, Fremont, California and others.

Vision Zero cities meet four minimum criteria:

  • A clear goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries
  • Mayor’s commitment to Vision Zero
  • A Vision Zero plan or strategy is in place, or a timeline for implementation
  • Key city departments (including police, transportation and public health) are engaged.

According to the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety, there were 12,155 vehicle crashes in Douglas County in 2016, 36 fatalities and 6,116 injuries. (http://dot.nebraska.gov/media/10414/facts2016.pdf)

“Vision Zero is a common sense goal we should strive for,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.  “Public safety is our primary responsibility and priority.  The Active Living Advisory Committee has presented an excellent recommendation and we will proceed.”

The Active Living Advisory Committee recommends a final report within 9-18 months.

"A vision zero goal prioritizes human life as we make decisions on transportation design, education, and enforcement. It also promotes interagency coordination of safety analysis and implementation,” said Committee Chairman Mark Stursma. “I would like to personally thank Mayor Stothert for her leadership on this important initiative.  The goal is zero, but if even one life is saved it will be a worthwhile endeavor.”

Members of the Active Living Advisory Committee are:

Mark Stursma, Planning Director, City of Papillion (Committee Chair)

Ben Turner, Omaha B-cycle Executive Director

Andy Wessel, Douglas County Health Department

Christopher Rolling, Civil Engineer, Olsson Associates

Tom Everson, Founder - Keep Kids Alive Drive 25

Pell Duvall, Duvall Consulting

More information about the Active Living Advisory Committee and the Vision Zero recommendation is available at: https://mayors-office.cityofomaha.org/2-uncategorised/179-active-living-advisory-committee