MECA board member Jamie Gutierrez Mora missed a scheduled meeting with Mayor Jean Stothert on Monday in which the two had planned to discuss questions surrounding Gutierrez Mora’s eligibility to serve on the board.
The mayor also had planned to ask questions related to Secretary of State John Gale’s recently launched investigation into Gutierrez Mora’s voter registration.
Late Sunday evening, however, Gutierrez Mora sent Stothert a text asking for more time.
She said she’d been out of town on business for her company, Midwest Maintenance Co., and had recently received official notification about the investigation from the Secretary of State’s Office.
Gale has notified Gutierrez Mora that she must respond within five days to set up a meeting.
“As a result, I need to better understand these processes so I can have a more informed conversation with you,” Gutierrez Mora wrote, suggesting that she and the mayor meet later this week.
Stothert replied that she would be unavailable and expected to see Gutierrez Mora at 9 a.m. Monday, as scheduled. Gutierrez Mora told The World-Herald that she called the mayor following the text message exchange and tried her office Monday morning, but she could not reach Stothert.
Stothert disputes that account. She said the first phone call was from Gutierrez Mora’s assistant, late Monday morning.
After the meeting time came and went, Stothert told reporters she considered Gutierrez Mora’s absence concerning.
“This meeting has been scheduled for over a week,” she said. “To cancel it by text message, not even by phone call, but by text, I find it very, very unprofessional.”
The mayor said she wants to meet with Gutierrez Mora before forming an opinion about her service with the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority.
Gutierrez Mora was appointed to the board in March with a unanimous vote of the City Council — including a vote from Stothert, then a council member. But over the past month, questions over where Gutierrez Mora lives and registered to vote have attracted the attention of city and state officials.
City Attorney Paul Kratz has concluded that Gutierrez Mora lives in Bellevue, not in a South Omaha rental property she and her husband also own. Gutierrez Mora has said she considers both residences as her home and believed she could select one to list on her résumé and her voter registration forms.
Gutierrez Mora said Monday that she has contacted Gale to set up an appointment and still wants to meet with Stothert.
She noted that Stothert has already spoken to Gale about his investigation.
“I’m trying to be fair and professional with her,” Gutierrez Mora said. “I think she’s probably already got her mind made up — she’s not being very cooperative or fair.
There is a due process here, and I should be given the right to go through the same conversations she’s had with some people.”