Councilwoman Calls for Neb. Chief's Removal

OMAHA, Neb. --

A councilwoman has called for tough consequences for the fire department's chief in the wake of a scathing review on how the department managed -- or didn’t manage -- its finances.

Jean Stothert, who has been a vocal critic of the department during her tenure on the council, said the city should hold Chief Mike McDonnell's feet to the fire.

She can't legally call for his removal, but she can ask the mayor to do it.

The state auditor on Thursday announced the mangled state of the department's finances. Record keeping was found to be bad or nonexistent, and time roll records were inadequate, the auditor said, leaving questions of whether firefighters worked their scheduled hours.

McDonnell stood with the mayor and auditor, vowing changes in the sloppy record keeping that had been going on for years.

Other city leaders said heads shouldn't roll for the mismanagement.

"I don't know if … it's fair to single out one person," said Councilman Chris Jerram.

Jerram offered a resolution on Tuesday to formally support the auditor's findings to fix the department's finances.

Stothert said she'll approve the resolution but she wants to send a stronger message about McDonnell's job.

"I think if this were the private sector and someone managed a department such as this, they would be removed," she said.

City code allows the mayor to call for the fire chief's removal.

Stothert said she is looking at other options. She called the lax bookkeeping inexcusable.

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