As required by Nebraska state law, the Omaha City Council Tuesday voted 6 to 1 to set the date for a recall election. Voters will decide the future of Mayor Jim Suttle January 25th.
There was little fanfare and even less discussion as the council went through the legal motions to set the date. It was the first item they addressed at their normal weekly meeting. Councilman Ben Gray voted against it.
The election could still be stopped by the courts. Mayor Suttle is asking a district court judge to overturn the successful petition drive, arguing that process was flawed in some ways.
A spokesperson for the mayor issued a statement Tuesday afternoon following the council action. In part Aida Amoura said, "... the Mayor will defend himself and the majority of Omaha residents who are interested in moving the city forward..."
She continued, "....Mayor Suttle stands by his record of bringing fiscal stability to Omaha, streamlining city operations, restoring the city’s AAA bond rating, saving taxpayers millions of dollars and providing real job opportunities for the unemployed in our community.”
Supporters of the recall have argued that rather than saving money, Suttle has cost the taxpayers millions. They point to the $14 million annual bailout for the police and fire union pension which will be paid every year for 40 years. They point also to the raises he gave to his department heads, and to the money he spent on what they believe was a lavish, leased SUV.
Suttle has drawn fire for supporting the entertainment tax on bars and restaurants and for bumping up the city's wheel tax.
While Suttle has consistently taken the position that many of his actions were forced upon him because of the condition of the city when he took office, opponents consistently point out that Suttle was on the city council for four years before taking office.