The Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority board will not act to remove one of its own — at least not until Mayor Jean Stothert and the Omaha City Council have formally weighed in on the issue of Jamie Gutierrez Mora's eligibility to serve.
Board Chairman John Lund said Wednesday that he and others on the board want to see a quick resolution to a topic that has become a “distraction.” And while the MECA board can act independently to remove a member — with or without cause — Lund said the responsibility for dealing with this issue should first fall to the city.
“This is a process that has to be vetted,” he said. “This is a matter that has to be decided with the city. This was purposely set out in the charter for the appointment to be done by the city and the mayor and not the MECA board.”
Gutierrez Mora was appointed to the board in March by a unanimous vote of the City Council. In August, however, questions surfaced about the businesswoman's residency.
She listed South Omaha rental property owned by her husband as her home address on her résumé, but she appears to live in a Bellevue home she's owned for several years. Meanwhile, Gutierrez Mora changed her voter registration from Sarpy to Douglas County late last year, using the South Omaha address.
Omaha City Attorney Paul Kratz has issued a legal opinion that argues Gutierrez Mora is not a “resident elector” of Douglas County and thus does not meet the qualification to serve on the MECA board.
Lund declined to say if he believes Gutierrez Mora should resign.
“I think that's something only she could answer,” he said. “Certainly Jamie's got a good résumé. She's a person in our community who seems to have done a lot of great things with business and involvement in the community. That is something she should have to answer.”
Gutierrez Mora did not return a call seeking comment.
Stothert has said she would reserve her opinion on the situation until she talked with Gutierrez Mora, a meeting she plans to have on Monday.
Should Stothert act to remove Gutierrez Mora, however, it appears she does not have the support of the City Council. Five of seven council members said this week that they would like to see Gutierrez Mora stay on the board and are interested in altering residency requirements.