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Rosie Rios May Be U.S. Treasurer; Former Oakland Economic Development Head


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Rosie Rios, who was one famously known as the economic development division head sacked by then-Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown in 2003 as part of a "great purge" of Oakland economic development officials friendly to then-City Manager Robert Bobb's support of a downtown Oakland baseball stadium, has resurfaced in an excellent way this year as the person selected by President Barack Obama to be the United States Treasurer, subject to Senate confirmation.

The U.S. Treasurer reports to the Secretary of The Treasury Tim Geithner on matters of coinage, currency circulation, and related issues, but her signature also will appear on U.S. currency.

In 2001, Rios was appointed Director of the Oakland Economic Development and Redevelopment Divisions  by then-Oakland Redevelopment Agency head Bill Claggett.  Before her stint with Oakland, Rios served as an excellent and well-regarded economic development director in several bay area cities from Fremont, to San Leandro and Union City.  Rios recently served as a Trustee of the Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association (ACERA) and is a member of the board of directors of California Association of Local Economic Development (CALED) and the Fruitvale Spanish-Speaking Unity Council in Oakland.  A graduate of Harvard University, Rosie is also a Fellow with the Royal Society for the Arts. Last year, Rios was responsible for public affairs, policy and planning for the Obama Treasury / Federal Reserve Transition Team

While with Oakland, Rios formed a business friendship with politically-connected real estate developer Victor MacFarlane who's company minority-owned MacFarlane Partners has grown from small beginnings in San Francisco to become one of the largest real estate investment management firms in America, with over $11 billion in properties in its portfolio.   MacFarlane Partners most recently participated in the competition to build the proposed new TransBay Terminal Center in San Francisco and is the developer of One Hawthorne

In 2006, Rios joined Mac Farlane Partners as managing director of investments in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. That year, MacFarlane Partners expanded east, with Victor becoming the owner of the soccer team D.C. United and with plans to develop a soccer stadium in Washington D.C. But the economic downturn impacted the firm, as 15 employees nationwide were laid off. Mac Farlane sold his stake in D.C. United this year.

Still, the rise of MacFarlane Partners and Rios herself to be named as  U.S. Treasurer-Designate is an example of a growing African American and Latino American professional class, very well-integrated (and proving that the media's obsession with stories of "black / latino" confrontations are largely over-blown), with its own structure of friendships and contacts that for the first time in American History extends to the White House itself under President Barack Obama.

Rosie's success is well-deserved and I personally add that I wish she were in Oakland while I was working on the Super Bowl bid; I used to joke that I missed her by a year.  It would have made my job a lot easier. (In fact, it was Brown's firing of the popular Rios that led to the development of a number of political enemies within Oakland City Hall, some of which are still vocal in their dislike of Brown to this day. That Brown was able to withstand that group as Oakland's Mayor, then rise to the level of California Attorney General and now possibly California's next governor (again) is testament to his political power.)
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