Resist By Voting For Heath Mello On Tuesday May 9!

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert inherited a good situation when she was elected in 2013. Jim Suttle had made the tough choices on the budget that once again placed Omaha on a sound financial footing by raising the restaurant tax. Thanks to Suttle’s engineering background, he saved the City of Omaha from an epic flood in the spring and summer of 2011.

Suttle paid a heavy price for his tough decisions. The entertainers on AM radio in Omaha launched a recall effort over the restaurant tax. Those entertainers came up with the usual doom and gloom predictions we frequently hear from the radical right. For example, they even predicted that people would go out to dinner in Council Bluffs to avoid paying the restaurant tax.

As usual, those right wing predictions of Armageddon turned out to be dead wrong. The restaurant tax got Omaha out of it’s financial hole and restored it’s triple A credit rating. The restaurant business is still thriving in Omaha.

Jean Stothert ran for Mayor claiming she could do better. She promised to repeal the restaurant tax, cut property taxes and increase spending for services — all at the same time. Obviously, her cynical promises were ludicrous and impossible to keep.

Since Stothert has been inaugurated, she has broken her promise to repeal the restaurant tax. Despite this broken promise, the entertainers on AM radio haven’t launched a recall of Stothert or demonized her for maintaining this tax. Instead, it’s been crickets from the entertainers and others in the radical right.

Stothert’s lone “accomplishment” is a small property tax cut that she enacted. The owner of $200,000 home would save all of $20 per year from this tax cut.

Tax cutting at the local level can have significant consequences due to the legal requirement to balance the budget. This tax cut has forced Stothert to cut corners in areas like snow removal. There have been numerous legitimate complaints about poor removal since Stothert took office in 2013. As former NDP chair Vince Powers said: “Because Mayor Stothert has cut so many corners, Omaha now even lacks funding to provide the basic service of removing snow.”

Stothert’s corner cutting on City finances turned out to be a disaster when a mere 4 inches of snow literally shut down Omaha on January 19, 2016. Even though this storm had been forecast for several days in advance, Stothert was totally unprepared for it. Morning commutes that usually take about 15 minutes turned into a one hour white knuckle run.

The incumbent Mayor’s ineptitude even reached the point where she unfairly criticized the Omaha Police Department’s response to an armed robbery in the 90th and Dodge areas. The Mayor was forced to apologize to the Omaha Police Department for her unwarranted criticism of officers making tough decisions out in the cold while she sat in her warm office.

Perhaps Stothert’s biggest failure is in the area of street maintenance — at a great expense to many of her constituents. The streets in some parts of Omaha are so poorly maintained that private residents have literally spent thousand of dollars out of their own pocket to fix the potholes in their neighborhoods. For example, Stephen Robinson — who lives in the Westside area — has spent $10,000.00 of his own money on ten tons of pothole patch. The streets in Robinson’s neighborhood are still drivable thanks to him.

Some of the streets in Omaha are so bad that it has received the embarrassing distinction of drawing national attention. In a recent New York Times expose, it was revealed that under Stothert, the city of Omaha — instead of fixing the potholes — simply grinds up the streets and turns them into gravel roads. Some of these streets look like something out of a Third World country. As one Omaha resident said: “I can’t even open my windows on that side of the house. During the summer, it’s just a dust bowl.”

Omaha doesn’t have to settle for the status of a Third World country. Omaha can do much better than this by electing Heath Mello mayor on Tuesday, May 9. As a member of the Nebraska legislature, Mello worked on a bi-partisan basis to help working families. As a state senator, Mello helped pass legislation with bi-partisan support to extend the state’s equal-pay protection law, provide tax credits to child care workers and to allow DREAMers to get driver’s and professional licenses.

As Mayor of Omaha, Mello will:

- Bring the community together and unlike Stothert, won’t use the office to settle scores.

- Fix Omaha’s crumbling streets.

- Fight crime.

- Revitalize north Omaha.

- Create more opportunities for women.

- Bring good paying jobs to Omaha.

The Omaha mayoral election on Tuesday May 9 will be a national bellwether. If we can elect Heath Mello mayor, we will prove that Democrats can win in just about any part of the country. A Mello victory would send a powerful signal that the radical right is in retreat and the Democratic Party is resurgent.

A great city like Omaha doesn’t have to settle for a mediocrity like Stothert. Can anybody say let’s have four more years of this? Job well done? Keep up the good work? We all know the answers to those questions. Vote for change by voting for Heath Mello on Tuesday, May 9!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.