By Kevin Hogencamp
John Mazzola, Albany’s ousted Civic Center director, has been ousted again.
And like before, the circumstances of his departure are being kept close to the vest.
After being forced earlier this year to find a job elsewhere by Albany City Manager Alfred Lott, who is now being forced from Albany himself by his bosses, Mazzola took a job in April to manage the United Wireless Arena in Dodge City, Kans., which is scheduled to open in early 2011. Although the arena is public, Mazzola worked for a private firm, Global Entertainment, whose chief executive officer, Steve Lee, says that Mazzola has been fired, but won’t say why.
Rather than replacing Mazzola, Global will hire another firm to manage the arena, as it is doing with most of its events centers, said Ken Strobel, city manager of Dodge City. Strobel said Global and VenuWorks of Ames, Iowa, is working on an agreement to handle management services for Global.
Mazzola applied for the Albany Civic Center director’s post after the application deadline after being encouraged by Lott to do so at the recommendation of headhunter Bob Slavin, who helped Lott lure the Albany post and then made more than $60,000 in fees from the city at Lott’s behest. Lott has since been banned by the City Commission from hiring Slavin because of Lott’s hiring of convicted felon Don Buie – who passed Slavin’s background check — as downtown manager. Lott revealed Buie’s criminal history after journalists uncovered illegal dealings by Buie, who was convicted on nine felony counts of public fraud and sentenced to a year in jail.
Toward the end of Mazzola’s rocky tenure, Lott stripped much of Mazzola’s authority, as Lott has done with other department heads in an effort to force their departure. Meanwhile, Mazzola was often forced by Lott to coddle to Albany City Commission members, particularly Mayor Willie Adams and Tommie Postell. Indeed, commissioners now have premium round-the-clock parking spaces at the Civic Center.
Since Mazzola’s departure, Lott — who was forced by the City Commission to resign this year but who has negotiated a June 2011 departure date — has had trouble filling the Civic Center director’s slot. After a nationwide search, Lott’s selectee notified Lott in September that he would not accept the job, partly
Another top candidate for the position was eliminated from consideration because of information revealed during a background check, city officials said. Lott refuses to identify that finalist in violation of state law.
Lott, meanwhile, is considering five additional finalists for the position, including State Theatre co-owner Lane Rosen.