Leave MECA rules alone, Mayor Stothert says - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 2:26 am
Leave MECA rules alone, Mayor Stothert says

MECA's rules should not be changed to allow non-Douglas County residents to serve on the organization's prominent board, Mayor Jean Stothert said Friday.

The mayor's comments came as Secretary of State John Gale announced he is investigating the residency of Jamie Gutierrez Mora, the newest member of the board that oversees the CenturyLink Center and TD Ameritrade Park.

Stothert said the group running the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority should represent the same group of people who voted to form the organization more than a decade ago.

“I do not agree with changing eligibility for one person,” she said, adding that “the citizens of Omaha voted on a ballot to form MECA, to build the CenturyLink Center, not the citizens of Sarpy County.”

Gutierrez Mora runs Midwest Maintenance Co., a South Omaha-based janitorial company that holds one of MECA's largest contracts. She was appointed to the board in March with a unanimous vote of the Omaha City Council, but has since faced scrutiny about her qualifications to serve.

On her résumé and on her Douglas County voter registration form filed Dec. 28, Gutierrez Mora said she lives in a South Omaha rental property owned by her husband. But Omaha City Attorney Paul Kratz concluded in his own investigation that Gutierrez Mora actually lives in a Bellevue home that she has owned for several years.

Kratz, who said his investigation was prompted by a World-Herald article, said Gutierrez Mora does not meet the requirement that its board members be “resident electors” of Douglas County.

Gutierrez Mora has declined to publicly discuss where she lives and has not returned calls seeking comment.

Stothert said Gale told her he agrees with Kratz's opinion.

Now, Gale said he will “gather material from the news media, public sources and from other sources,” to determine if Gutierrez Mora violated an oath she signed when she switched her voter registration from Sarpy to Douglas County.

Like other voters, Gutierrez Mora signed an oath that states: “I live in the State of Nebraska at the address provided in this application.”

The oath says applicants who knowingly provide false information are guilty of election falsification, a felony.

Stothert has said she is troubled by the idea that Gutierrez Mora had not been truthful about where she lives but would reserve judgment on the issue until the two meet on Monday. She declined to say if she planned to ask Gutierrez Mora to resign.

The mayor could send a resolution to the City Council calling for Gutierrez Mora's removal from the board, but it appears she may not have enough support.

Five of seven council members said this week that they support Gutierrez Mora and favor altering the residency rules.

But Councilwoman Aimee Melton, one of the two council members who said they agree with Kratz's opinion, said she also had concerns about expanding the geographic boundaries for MECA board members.

Councilman Franklin Thompson said he did not believe Gutierrez Mora meets residency requirements but is undecided about changing those requirements.

Stothert also dismissed concerns raised this week by Councilman Garry Gernandt, who said he worried Gutierrez Mora's status as a minority woman made her a target for removal from the board.

“This isn't about race at all,” she said. “It's about the law. Is she eligible, is she not eligible?”

Stothert said it's possible the matter could be referred to the Nebraska Attorney General's Office depending on the outcome of the Secretary of State's investigation.

The MECA board can also act independently to remove board members.

That move, however, is unlikely in the near future. Board Chairman John Lund said this week that the board will not take action until the city has come to a formal conclusion on the matter.

Contact the writer: Erin Golden

erin.golden@owh.com    |   402-444-1543    |  

Erin covers the Omaha City Council and the Mayor's Office.

OPPD board holding public forum, open house May 7
Intoxicated man with pellet gun climbs billboard's scaffold; is arrested
Church is pressing its case for old Temple Israel site
Crack ring's leaders join others in prison as part of Operation Purple Haze convictions
Saturday forecast opens window for gardening; Easter egg hunts look iffy on Sunday
Last day of 2014 Legislature: Praise, passage of a last few bills and more on mountain lions
A voice of experience: Ex-gang member has helped lead fight against Omaha violence
The thrill of the skill: Omaha hosts statewide contest for students of the trades
'The war is not over,' Chambers says, but legislative session about is
A recap of what got done — and what didn't — in the 2014 legislative session
PAC funded by Senate candidate Ben Sasse's great-uncle releases Shane Osborn attack ad
Teen killed at Gallagher Park was shot in head as he sat in SUV, friend who was wounded says
When judge asks, Nikko Jenkins says ‘I killed them’
New UNO center strengthens ties between campus, community
Threat found in Millard West bathroom deemed 'not credible'
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Nebrasks health officials to advertise jobs via drive-thru
Coral Walker named Omaha police officer of the year
Sarah Palin, Mike Lee coming to Nebraska for Ben Sasse rally
Prescription drug drop-off is April 26
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Rather than doing $250K in repairs, owner who lives in lot behind 94-year-old house in Dundee razes it
NB 30th Street lane closed
State Patrol, Omaha police conduct vehicle inspections
Bernie Kanger formally promoted to Omaha fire chief
< >
Breaking Brad: At least my kid never got stuck inside a claw machine
We need a new rule in Lincoln. If your kid is discovered inside the claw machine at a bowling alley, you are forever barred from being nominated for "Mother of the Year."
Breaking Brad: How many MECA board members can we put in a luxury suite?
As a stunt at the Blue Man Group show, MECA board members are going to see how many people they can stuff into one luxury suite.
Kelly: Creighton's McDermotts put good faces on an Omaha tradition
A comical roast Wednesday night in Omaha brought fans of Creighton basketball laughter by the bucketful. This time it was McJokes, not McBuckets, that entertained the Bluejay crowd.
Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
Jessica Lutton Bedient was killed by a drunken driver at age 26 in 2010. Thursday, the widowed husband and other family members will gather with others at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to dedicate a permanent memorial to Jessica.
Breaking Brad: How much would you pay for a corn dog?
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a new concession item: a $25 corn dog. For that kind of money, it should be stuffed with Bitcoin.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
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 »