Fire Chief Silenced During Budget Battle
Battle Continues Over Fire BudgetPhoto: Video by kmtv.com
Omaha, NE -- Fire Chief Mike McDonnell silenced. It's the latest order from Mayor Jean Stothert, telling the fire chief not to say a word about his department's budget. She also sent him a long list of questions about manpower, hiring practices and sick time.
"I had a lot of additional questions because it is my budget," said Stothert. "This is the mayor's budget. It's my budget. It's not Mike McDonnell's budget." The mayor says this is her effort to balance the department's budget, the only city department to be in the red by millions. That's why so many questions and directives, restricting the chief from making any capital or equipment expenditures, no position re-assignments and no promotions unless Stothert signs off.
Steve LeClair heads up the firefighter's union. "Whether it be the fire chief or the mayor, we don't need specific approval for some of these items," said LeClair. "These are not privileges. These are rights that are afforded us under the contract." Stothert disagrees. "They were over budget in '11," said Stothert. "They were over budget in '12. Now they're over budget in '13. So, you can't blame all of those years on the new contract."