On a 5-1 vote, the Omaha City Council removed Councilmember Vinny Palermo from his position as council vice president Tuesday.
On Friday, a federal judge ordered for Palermo to be held in federal custody until his trial for allegedly defrauding the Latino Peace Officers Association and Police Athletics for Community Engagement.
His removal as council vice president also removes him from being third in the mayoral line of succession. After federal agents searched his home in December, Palermo briefly served as acting mayor while Mayor Jean Stothert and Council President Pete Festersen were out-of-town.
Palermo’s trial won’t be held for months, meaning he’ll be unable to attend City Council meetings. Section 2.05 of the Omaha City Charter states that if a council member is absent from meetings for three consecutive months, they forfeit their seat.
Councilmember Juanita Johnson – the only councilmember to vote against Palermo’s removal – reiterated her position from last week’s meeting, saying that Palermo should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
“I stand on fairness, equity and due process. That’s my very core,” Johnson said Tuesday. “Voting yes would be against my moral compass.”
Councilmember Brinker Harding said it was incumbent on the council to remove Palermo as vice president since he won’t be able to attend meetings.
“This is not a determination of guilt or innocence,” Harding said.
City attorney Matt Kuhse presented documentation as the legal basis for Palermo’s removal, including his indictment and detention order. Kuhse said the law department had contacted Palermo’s attorney, who chose not to attend Tuesday’s hearing.
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners also met Tuesday. Members of the sheriff’s office raised concerns about the lack of parking for employees assigned for security at the Hall of Justice.
With the corrections department becoming fully staffed, Chief Deputy Will Niemack said fewer spots are available for sheriff’s office employees. He said they have a need for about 40 parking spaces, but there are times where only 10 are available, leaving employees to pay for private parking.
Niemack asked the County Board to look into solutions, and floated reserving space at the 1910 Harney Street parking garage for sheriff’s office employees.