The case of The People Of The State Of California vs Scott McKibben would seem very routine if you didn’t know the man or the story. Unfortunately, I know both. I know that as one who personally advocated for my friend from my Super Bowl: Oakland Bid days, and President of The Rose Bowl and Commissioner of the A-II Football League to become Coliseum Joint Powers Authority Executive Director, it does hurt to see his name attached and be accused of something that he did not at all believe he was doing, and believed he had permission to do.
Two things must be made clear: first, in my view the Alameda County DA, Nancy O’Malley, is completely wrong in filing charges against Scott McKibben for felony conflict of interest. Second, the Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker, who brought the criminal claims to the DA, was completely wrong to ask Scott for 2019 NBA Finals Game 4 Coliseum JPA Luxury Box tickets, just after the RingCentral Deal was done and the company name was put on the Coliseum Stadium next door – yet reportedly knew in her mind she would blast Scott behind his back. I know that because I was there at 2019 NBA Finals Game 4 and Scott invited me up to hang out (I had a ticket in the rafters), as was now former Coliseum JPA Board Member Chris Dobbins. I even gave Ms. Parker a hug because I was very happy to see her. Now, it looks like Barbara knew this was in the works, even as she sought tickets from Scott for Warriors vs Raptors Game 4.
Why Is Oakland Punishing The Best Coliseum JPA Executive Director It Ever Had?
Scott is personally hurt by this. He feels that he’s been blindsided by people he worked hard for and was proud to represent. He can’t process why this is happening. Personally, if I had any idea this sort of fate was before him, I’d have told him to stay away from Oakland. Instead, I worked hard to get Scott hired as Coliseum JPA Executive Director.
The reason I worked so hard to get Scott McKibben hired, and ultimately had the help of now Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan, who was on the Coliseum JPA Board, is because he’s one thing the Coliseum JPA needed: a sports business deal maker. In all of its years, the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority never had anyone like that since the days of the late Coliseum President and Peerless Coffee CEO George Vukasin.
Come to think of it, both Vukasin and McKibben were good friends of mine (Vukasin, while I was Montclarion columnist between 1993 and 1995 and McKibben for the Super Bowl Oakland Bid work from 1999 to 2001) – both were deal makers, and both were Republican, white, and male. I’m not sure what that says about me since I’m black, Democrat, and male, but I do know we all got along famously. We all understood how to do deals. Building small businesses. Setting prices with vendors. Determining payment of contractors. All of those agreements, and more, are deals. and maybe that explains the rub that got Scott into this rabbit hole he finds himself in.
Scott McKibben was working within an Oakland Government system that’s become increasingly hostile to deal-making over the years, and he didn’t even know it. Today, the sheer power of billionaire tech investors and local companies worth near trillions has so compacted government, made it feel so small, that it simply doesn’t trust anyone who may appear to be working a deal that ultimately benefits it.
So, that Oakland Government system existed, and within it, Scott McKibben, the man with the Coliseum JPA Contract that calls him “independent contractor” as much as it does call him “executive director” – and thus making him a walking conflict of interest and not by his own design, but by the design of the lawyers of the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda. I always thought it was confusing that Scott had such a contract, but I kept my nose out of that business – now, I’m sorry I did.
Scott McKibben was set up to fail, even as he was succeeding, and he didn’t even know it. During his time as Coliseum JPA Executive Director, he steered a public organization that was running a deficit when he started in 2014 to one that was in the black when he sadly stepped down because of the RingCentral Naming Rights Deal.
And the RingCentral Naming Rights Deal is the one that’s the focus of the conflict-of-interest, Section 1090 violation felony argument that Alameda County prosecuters will throw at him January 10th, 2020. What’s really weird about that, is the Coliseum JPA Board authorized Scott to establish a naming rights deal with Ring Central. But, in doing so, the Coliseum JPA Board did not warn McKibben that he could not receive any extra “fee” for his work, and since Scott is called an independent contractor, and the Coliseum JPA always paid out such fees in its past, he thought that he too deserved a $50,000 fee.
The problem for Scott is the Coliseum JPA Board members I talked to didn’t said they didn’t know about the $50,000 fee just as they dispatched him to make the RingCentral Naming Rights Deal. What is strange is why would they ask him to act as a marketing consultant, but not inform him of any danger of violating Section 1090, let alone tell him what Section 1090 was? But then, did the Coliseum JPA Board members also forgot that McKibben’s true title is not only “independent contractor” but “consultant”? That’s right, consultant, and not public official in the normal sense of the word. So, the problem of conflict of interest is built in to this entire matter – and so much so, that it seems that it should be not legal to be able to charge Scott with a crime of conflict of interest.
Answer this question: how can you put a man or woman in a position that, by design, is one of conflict of interest, take advantage of their deal-making talent and not warn them, and then turn around and charge them with the crime of conflict of interest? That’s “Entrapment By Estoppel” – defined as “when a government official has actively misled a defendant into a reasonable belief that his or her charged conduct is legal.”
Coliseum JPA marketing and sales consultants have always received an extra fee for their work in organizations history, going back to its reformation into what it is, today, in 1996. Why should Scott be any different? And, again, the Coliseum JPA Board dispatched him to do the deal. It doesn’t matter that Scott’s “already making $300,000” as one Coliseum JPA Board Member told me when this conflict of interest issue surfaced for public view.
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