Omaha Mayor names UP exec to embattled MECA board

Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

OMAHA—In the middle of a City Hall-MECA struggle, Mayor Jean Stothert has named a new member to the powerful arena board.

Diane Duren has been with Union Pacific since 1985

Diane Duren, Union Pacific Railroad Executive Vice-President, will succeed Jim Vokal whose 5-year term ends May 9.

The appointment follows City Attorney Paul Kratz’s fix-it-or-else message to the currently all white-male 5-member Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority.

Kratz telling MECA it has 30 days to reverse its vote for longer terms or suffer the consequences. According to Kratz that means “possible termination” of the contract between the city and MECA.

MECA runs the $291 million CenturyLink Center

During a tense meeting last week MECA—by a 3-2 vote—upped its terms from the current five year appointment with possible re-appointments, to a “one and done” seven-year stint.

Voting against the extension were Chairman John Lund and board member Willy Theisen. Vokal, Dana Bradford and Jay Noddle voted yes leaving Vokal on the board until 2016.

Stothert calls the board’s plan “self-serving.”

MECA, which also voted to increase the number of board members from five to seven, has yet to officially respond to Kratz’s demand.

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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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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