OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Councilmember Vinny Palermo is seeking re-election to the Omaha City Council despite pleading guilty to three federal counts of failing to pay his taxes.
He took responsibility back in 2019.
Now he tells me he believes he’s not the only person at fault.
“I think the story that hasn’t been told and I’m glad you asked is This was in 2012, long before I was on the city council and my former accountant who was federally indicted and sent to jail,” said Palermo.
His opponent Becky Barrientos-Patlan says he’s trying to have it both ways.
“He took full responsibility, but he blamed his accountant,” said Barrientos-Patlan.
Palermo says he wasn’t the only person working with the accountant that got in trouble with the feds, but was just the only elected official.
He says it won’t happen again.
“As a small business owner starting out, as you continue to grow, you have to make sure you have safeguards put in place, and moving forward that’s what we have to make sure this never happens again,” said Palermo.
Barrientos-Patlan says it never should have happened.
“And you’re responsible for them taxes, you can’t blame anybody else. You have to take that responsibility and do what you’re supposed to do. Everybody else has to,” said Barrientos-Patlan.
Palermo says there’s plenty he’s done to earn re-election.
That includes adding affordable housing in South Omaha, and making sure the city didn’t keep pushing back construction of a new south Omaha fire station.
“I’ve got multi-generational firefighters that have said, we’ve heard this for decades, it’s not going to happen,” said Palermo. “And you follow through with the desperately needed new fire station in South Omaha. It shows you really mean business.”
Barrientos-Patlan, a Republican who’s sought the seat multiple times, says she got in the race because of the tax issue, opposition to the mask mandate and so the city government takes a more proactive approach to repairing streets and parks.
“They’re roaming around anyway, they should be logging that our sewers are filled with soot, and there’s too many potholes in an area,” said Barrientos-Patlan.
Palermo is the only Democrat facing a Republican that the Omaha police union endorsed in the city council races.
Both say they’d consistently vote in favor of law enforcement.
“We need to pay our police officers more, and we need to increase the amount of police officers we have,” said Palermo.
“I don’t see any reformation that our police needs, I think they’re doing a fantastic job,” said Barrientos-Patlan.
Palermo handily won the four-person primary with 47 percent of the vote. Barrientos-Patlan finished with 23 percent.