A bill aimed at opening up the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority's financial records could be headed to the Nebraska Legislature next year.
State Sen. Brad Ashford said his office is drafting the bill, which would be introduced by Sen. Ernie Chambers. Ashford was one of the original members of the MECA board, which oversees the CenturyLink Center, TD Ameritrade Park and the Civic Auditorium.
He said he's had a long interest in making MECA's operations more visible to the public, and Chambers has introduced related legislation in the past. MECA follows state open meetings rules but does not produce detailed documents about its finances or contracts with outside companies, like other public institutions.
Ashford said he believes MECA should be able to keep some information private, but only when it's related to competitive business for concerts or other events. The rest, he said, should be available for public scrutiny.
He said the need for more open operations has become clear in recent months, as public interest in MECA increased with the resignation of former board member Jamie Gutierrez Mora.
“I don't see the downside of the public gets to know how money is being spent on public facilities,” Ashford said.
Chambers declined to comment.
Tuesday, Omaha developer Jay Noddle took the seat vacated by Gutierrez Mora's resignation. The chairman of the MECA board on Tuesday welcomed Noddle to “the most talked-about board in the city.”
Noddle was appointed to the board last week by a 6-1 vote of the Omaha City Council.
Board chairman John Lund told Noddle he expects him to be a good fit for the board.
“You bring a lot of business and civic and leadership roles, and you'll be an ambassador to MECA,” Lund said.