Exclusive: There’s give and take in Omaha Mayor’s MECA records plan

Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

Nebraska Watchdog has learned the nuts and bolts of Mayor Jean Stothert’s plan to pull back the curtain surrounding the city’s powerful arena board—well some of the curtain.

Mayor Jean Stothert

Stothert’s proposal calls on MECA to release at the very least a “detailed” budget, vendor deals and ticket and concession sales.

But it would not require MECA to make public the names of those who own high-priced suites at CenturyLink Center and TD Ameritrade ballpark.

Other items Stothert would keep out of the public eye: personnel information, salaries, current contract information, deals with promoters and— supposedly most important to MECA— “trade secrets.”

MECA runs the $291 million CenturyLink Center

MECA has consistently complained that if its business secrets get out conventions, concerts and sporting events will go elsewhere.

This week, despite it’s admitted “poor” public image, the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority once again failed to open its records to the public.

“We do not have the votes,” announced MECA’s John Lund who said he hopes that changes in the near future.

Following MECA’s no-go Stothert said, “It concerns me,” adding she sent her plan to MECA a month ago.

MECA’s five member board during a recent meeting on “transparency”

Much of the uproar over MECA’s closed door operation first bubbled up in 2013 when Nebraska Watchdog reported an apparent multi-million dollar conflict of interest involving Jaime Gutierrez Mora.

While sitting on the five member board—she has since resigned—Mora’s maintenance company held MECA’s lucrative janitorial contract.

Because MECA is not subject to the state’s conflict of interest rules, the Mora-MECA deal went hidden for months.

According to Stothert’s proposal MECA would be covered by the state’s conflict rules.

Contact Joe Jordan at joe@nebraskawatchdog.org

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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