Judge rejects Omaha fire union's request to stop Fire Department cuts - Omaha.com
Published Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 4:10 am
Judge rejects Omaha fire union's request to stop Fire Department cuts

A Douglas County judge rejected the Omaha fire union's lawsuit attempting to block Fire Department budget cuts it said could harm public safety.

In a written ruling, District Judge James Gleason dismissed the union's arguments that Mayor Jean Stothert's proposed budget could amount to a breach of the city's labor contract with firefighters.

After considering evidence in four hours of testimony last month, Gleason said he concluded that he couldn't rule on a case related to a budget that has yet to be approved.

While the union's attorney said cuts could put firefighters at risk, Gleason ruled that “the proposal of a budget does not create a budget, and this court determines that this case is not ripe for decision until a budget has been approved by the City Council of the City of Omaha.”

Gleason wrote, “In this instance, this court declines to enter the political sphere (which it is not permitted to do in any event) by issuing an advisory opinion” concerning the mayor's proposed budget.

Stothert's budget would increase Fire Department funding by $8.2 million over this year, but it would fall short of Fire Chief Mike McDonnell's spending requests. Stothert is proposing a $90.6 million budget, while McDonnell says he needs about $94 million.

Stothert's plan would come with cuts, including 16 layoffs, eight demotions and two rigs removed from service.

Nothing, however, is official until the City Council votes on the budget. That's scheduled to happen next Tuesday.

Stothert said in a statement that her office is pleased with Gleason's ruling.

“Not only do we agree with Judge Gleason that the fire union's action was premature, we did not think that there was any merit to the allegations in the lawsuit,” she said. “We will continue to manage the city to best serve the citizens of Omaha in a fiscally responsible manner.”

McDonnell declined to comment.

The Omaha firefighters union said in a statement that if the council adopts the Stothert-proposed budget, “the parties will be back in court.''

“We are prepared to oppose the imposition of a budget which violates the promises the city made to our members at the table less than one year ago,'' the union statement said.

Union members are willing to work with Stothert to apply for federal grants that could avoid the cuts proposed by the mayor, the statement said.

The grants are available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

World-Herald staff writer Juan Perez Jr. contributed to this report.

Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
U.S. Senate race: State Auditor Mike Foley defends Shane Osborn against ad campaign
Public defender to represent Nikko Jenkins in sentencing
Mid-America Center on track for lower operating loss
Bluffs City Council approves dozens of new numbered street lights
National Law Enforcement Memorial Week set for May
Ted Cruz backs Pete Ricketts' campaign for governor
Omahan charged with 5th-offense DUI after street race causes rollover
2 blocks of Grover Street closed
Safety board report blames pilot error in 2013 crash that killed UNO student, passenger
Omaha man accused in shooting ordered held on $75,000 bail
2 men charged with conspiracy to distribute meth held on $1 million bail each
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
La Vista plans meeting on sales tax proposal, 84th Street redevelopment
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Millard school board bans e-cigarettes from all district properties, events
< >
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Steam-A-Way Carpet Cleaning
$50 for 3 rooms and a Hallway up to 600 square feet
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »