In mid August, Ann Haley, who for six years was the head of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority staff, elected to step down. My sources -- and there are several -- tell me that she was actually fired.
There was no good reason for her dismissal, but it's well-known that Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority Board Chairperson and Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente was not happy with her performance.
But in fairness to Haley, the Authority's structure and placement of many matters in the hands of SMG, the stadium management organization that still remains un-supervised, gave her little real power. Plus, it placeed her in the role of dealing with the whims and requests of the elected officials that seem to insist on maintaining a system that is unprofessional in it's operation in the view of this observer.
But to add insult to injury, many insiders are asking the question why would the Authority have -- of all people -- long-time Deborah Edgerly-crony Deena McClain step in as the "interim director" again after six years of not being around?
Well as one of my sources said McClain was gone, but not forgotten. Also, she does have some institutional memory. But if the Coliseum Authority had any real guts at all, it would have brought back Ezra Rapport, the original architect of the Raiders deal. That's the smart move because he's the best person to undo what he did. But that kind of logic tends to escape the City of Oakland.
Given the recent scandal, one would think such a move as bringing back McClain would be bone-headed at best, because here we are dealing with the ghost of Coliseum mismanagement past. McClain is a very nice person with a terrific set of relationships there, but the problems regarding what is needed at the Coliseum -- a leader -- have never been answered by a person who's basic background is as a bond lawyer.
I'll never forget McClain stating that she "didn't get this whole matter of sports sponsorship" when I worked to bring the Super Bowl here in 2000. I almost fell out of my chair in that August 9th 2000 meeting. That was scary because it's sports corporate sponsorship that is the basis for Coliseum revenue generation for events, other than ticket sales.
What has McClain learned in those years? A good question and I'm waiting for the answer.
But a better question is why someone who worked alongside Edgerly at the Coliseum Authority when the now former staffer also worked as staff to the Authority before essentially becoming McClain's boss as Chief Administrative Officer, is now placed back in charge again?
Have things really changed post Edgerly? I think not. And as usual, the poor Coliseum Complex becomes the weigh-station for Oakland's problems. But I know some officials will read this and say "Zennie. The Counry wants Deena McClain, not us."
My response is "That's always the excuse." But really, the City of Oakland has to start showing real leadership at the Coliseum and the best way is to replace McClain as soon as possible.
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