Maraskeshia Smith is currently the City of Oakland’s Assistant Chief Administrative Officer. She came to the City of Oakland from Cincinnati (where she was Director of Public Services for the City of Cincinnati) two years ago, now, and has been placed in a role that gives her a multi-pronged set of activities that starts with being the number two in command and stretches to include overseeing a number of departments, including housing and community development.
Smith has so many roles in Oakland, that she should be making more than the $152,000 she currently earns, according to records and Oakland officials I talked to. Smith certainly should be making as much or more than my friend Ed Reiskin. The once great San Francisco public official Reiskin is now with the title of Oakland Assistant Chief Administrative Officer – and is said to make double what Smith earns, or $261,000. Ed came to Oakland after enjoying a salary and benefits combination that totaled over $403,000.
UPDATE: Legendary City of Oakland Chief Information Officer Karen Boyd wrote me this, but AFTER the departure of Maraskeshia Smith to Stockton, even though the question of the City’s pay of Smith was advanced by me over two months ago. It’s not Karen’s fault, and I won’t go into the backstory. But, considering that Smith basically held not one but two positions after the Mayor of Oakland wrongly fired Housing and Community Development Director Michelle Byrd, she was doing the work of someone who should have made more than the $261,000 she reportedly made.
I wanted to reach out to you to provide you with correct salary information for former Assistant City Administrator Maraskeshia Smith and current Assistant City Administrator Ed Reiskin (appointed City Administrator awaiting Council confirmation today). I raise this now because incorrect information is persisting in public discussions, and to avoid the potential that it gets repeated in the context of Ed’s anticipated confirmation.
You reported on March 3 (excerpt below) that Ms. Smith’s salary was $152,000. According to payroll data, Ms. Smith started as Assistant City Administrator on July 16, 2018 at a salary of $237,000 per year, and when she resigned her salary was $261,000 per year as a result of merit and general wage increases. When Assistant City Administrator Ed Reiskin started at the City in August 2019, his salary was, and is, $263,000 per year.
Often when people look at Transparent California for salary data, it presents an incomplete picture. Since Ms. Smith started half way through the calendar year, the web site would not reflect her annual pay. Please know that I am always available to confirm salary data for our City officials and staff from our payroll department.
The new information still points to a gap where Reiskin took in more in base salary than Smith did, and never caught up to his level.
Ed came over to the Oakland job as kind of a life-line after San Francisco Mayor London Breed reportedly asked him to resign after a MUNI day-long shut down due to a power-outage that was the fault of long years of lack of investment, according to the same San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority that Reiskin ran. The question is how did Ed come to land in Oakland, and at a pay rate over $100,000 more than Maraskeshia Smith?
While it’s not crystal clear, the answer may involve Oakland Mayor libby schaaf herself, and explain why some Oakland officials are upset that Mayor Schaaf reportedly wants Reiskin to be the next CAO and not Smith. I happened to find a photo where Mayor Schaaf and Ed Reiskin were on the same McKinsey and Company panel on infrastructure in 2015 – in fact, you can see Ed smiling approvingly as Libby talked. The subject? The proposed Transbay Tunnel, which would be one of California’s largest infrastructure projects. Could it be that Libby wants Ed to focus on that project for Oakland? If that’s the case, he doesn’t need to be Chief Administrative Officer; give that job to Smith and keep him where he is.
The result would be that Smith would gain a much-deserved raise in pay that would be better than Ed Reiskin’s, and more appropriate given her roles to date. It’s also what pretty much every Oakland official wants to see happen except Libby herself. Now, what about current Interim CAO Steven Falk?
I am told the former Lafayette City Manager does not want to be the permanent CAO, and he stated that coming in. Personally, I’ve not gotten off my point that, under Mayor Schaaf, only one black man has been hired as either Chief Administrative Officer or Assistant CAO, but this glaring pay issue where Maraskeshia Smith is making $100,000 less than her station must be corrected, and as soon as possible.
Once again with my long-time friend, the optics are sadly bad: a white man who’s her friend gets a job lifeline paying him substantially more than his boss, a black woman. Yes, Ed has 30 years of experience – mostly in transportation. But Smith’s practical experience is comparable to Ed’s, and most importantly, she’s admired by many in the City of Oakland who want to see her with the title of Chief Administrative Officer.
It’s up to Libby to make the call.
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