ONN – Maraskeshia Smith, Oakland Assistant City Administrator, Left The City Of Oakland This Week
Breaking News: Maraskeshia Smith, the former 18-year veteran of the City of Cincinnati who took the job of Oakland Assistant City Administrator June 5th, 2018, has reportedly left her position this week, according to a very reliable source who’s provided a score of correct news tips to Zennie62Media’s Oakland News Now. “It was kept quiet,” said my source, who added that Smith “went to Stockton” (but to do what, was not known).
Regardless, the news is sad. While the reason for her departure was not known by my source, the person I talked to remarked “It’s not hard to see that she wasn’t happy with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s appointment of Edward Reiskin (Ed Reiskin) to be Oakland Chief Administrative Officer.” And it’s not hard to see why: Smith expected to be the next CAO.
Maraskeshia Smith was highly regarded by many City of Oakland staff members and elected officials. Indeed, a number of City of Oakland employees at various levels told me they hoped Mayor Schaaf would elevate Smith to the job she gave to Ed Reiskin. On the day Maraskeshia Smith was hired, then Chief Administrative Officer Sabrina Landreth said I am delighted that Ms. Smith is joining the City of Oakland team. She understands the challenges cities face, and the importance of creating an environment of inclusion, respect, and trust. Most notably, she is recognized as a leader in performance management and data-driven decision making for tracking efficiency and effectiveness of frontline operations, improving service-level performance, and enhancing customer service.”
When she took the job, Smith, who holds an MBA from Eastern Kentucky University and a Bachelor’s from the University of Kentucky, said “I am humbled and honored to be selected as Oakland’s next Assistant City Administrator and to join a dynamic team of professionals who are vested in making Oakland the great City it is. I look forward to building strong relationships with the community and supporting our Administration as we work to provide efficient and equitable services to the residents of Oakland.”
Over the time she was with the City of Oakland, Smith became, with Landreth, the glue that held the City of Oakland together. It was Maraskeshia Smith who took over for the wrongly ousted Housing and Community Development Director Michele Byrd on April 22nd of 2019. That was after a new organization targeted Byrd for allegedly not enforcing the city’s eviction laws. Rather than stand up for Byrd, Mayor Schaaf reportedly fired her.
A Revolving Door Of Leadership At The Top Of Mayor Schaaf’s City of Oakland
So, if you’re keeping score of this head-spinning revolving door of leadership at the top of Mayor Schaaf’s City of Oakland, Sabrina Landreth stepped down due in large part to her reported actions in hiring a private investigator to investigate a member of the Oakland Police Commission. Landreth was replaced by former Lafayette City Manager Steven Falk on an interim basis, and who did not want the permanent CAO role. Meanwhile, Mayor Schaaf brought Mr. Reiskin over from San Francisco, where he was the Director of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority AKA MUNI, first, to be Assistant City Administrator, but his pay was over that of Smith’s by as much as $100,000. Many wanted Smith to be in the CAO role to bring salary balance to the situation (because, then, Smith would make more than Reskin). But Libby did what this space guessed she might do: elevate Reskin, and not Smith, to the role, and after what she claimed was a “rigorous” search.
Now Smith is said to have left this week. If this is handled like the departure of now former Economic Development Director Mark Sawicki: obvious only by an entry on his Linkedin page that reads “Led a department of 50 staff across six divisions: Public/Private Development, Real Estate Asset Management, Business Development, Workforce Development, Cultural Affairs, and Administration.” Mr. Sawicki was replaced by Alexa Jeffress, a housing specialist.
A Black Brain Drain In The City of Oakland Under Mayor Schaaf
Mayor Schaaf seems determined to cause a black brain drain at the top in the City of Oakland. The number of talented African Americans who have departed is starting to develop into a “who’s who” list that could be a trivia drinking game soon. Smith, former Oakland Police Officer and now Philadelphia Police Chief Daniel Outlaw, and Byrd, are just three names of a list of all-star-level public administration talent. It’s got Oakland insiders, regardless of color, talking – and not in a good way.
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