More heat on Omaha’s powerful arena board

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Posted: Mar 24, 2014 9:14 AM
More heat on Omaha’s powerful arena board

Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

OMAHA—As City Hall insiders wonder if and when MECA will blink—retreat and not extend its own terms—add another name to the powerful arena board’s growing group of critics.

MECA runs the $291 million CenturyLink Center, built with $216 million in public funds

MECA runs the $291 million CenturyLink Center, built with $216 million in public funds

First it was the Nebraska Legislature talking up a bill forcing the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority to open some of its books.

It was a “transparency” move backed by Mayor Jean Stothert.

And while the bill is all but dead, you can now you can add the state’s largest newspaper to the MECA-weary crowd.

The Omaha World-Herald is calling for a “spring cleaning” inside the operation which runs the $291 million CenturyLink Center and $128 million TD Ameritrade ballpark, along with the all but dead Civic Auditorium.

“Perhaps it is time to give MECA’s governing guidelines a good once-over,” writes the paper’s editorial staff.

The slap comes in the aftermath of MECA’s second public meltdown in a year which found the board voting 3-2 last week to extend its own terms from five years with possible re-appointments to a one-and-done seven year term.

That move was followed by City Attorney Paul Kratz’s claim that MECA had violated its contract with the city. Kratz has given MECA a month to reverse course or suffer the consequences—”possible termination” of the contract.

With the ball in MECA’s court the newspaper ups the ante calling for “more transparency…which would help restore needed public confidence.”

All of this following the Jaime Gutierrez Mora mess.

After she was appointed to MECA last year Nebraska Watchdog first reported Gutierrez Mora didn’t live in the city as required. She eventually resigned but not before her apparent conflict of interest—her janitorial company had a multi-million dollar contract with MECA—also raised red flags about MECA’s lack of political sunshine.

Contact Joe Jordan at joe@nebraskawatchdog.org and listen to Joe every Monday morning at 7:40 on KFAB radio in Omaha.

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