by Joe Shea
Port Manatee News Correspondent
September 6, 2011
BRADENTON, Fla., Sept. 6, 2011, 11:46am (Updated 1:34pm ET Sept. 7) -- The Manatee County Port Authority - meeting abruptly amid a county commission debate over the legality of doing so - decided Tuesday morning to ask the port's attorney whether they can add a last-minute applicant to the "B" list of three finalists for the post of Port Manatee executive director to replace outgoing port chief David McDonald.
None of the port's candidates were named at the meeting, but the agency circulated a list of the original 73 named candidates two weeks ago.
Among them were some top officials of other ports and the second-in-command at Port Manatee, Steve Tyndal. At least two candidates asked that their names not be disclosed on the list, one provided no information about himself, one name was missing and four withdrew their names. Several were women; one application came from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. [Some names that came in after the application deadline were already added, port sources said Wednesday.]
According to a list prepared by the port authority, the six selected at a 90-minute meeting on Aug. 30 were Juan Kuryla (deputy port director of Miami-Dade County), Carlos Buqueras (director of business development at the Port Everglades Authority), J. David Morgan (senior vice-president of Ports America in Georgia), Steve Tyndal (senior director of trade development and special programs for Port Manatee), James Crandles (director of Port Metro in Vancouver, British Columbia) and Michael Perez (executive director of the Port of Harlington Authority, of Texas). [J. David Morgan has withdrawn his name, a port official said Wednesday.]
The "B" list is composed of Jonathan Daniels (executive director of New York State's Port Oswego Authority), Clifton Hickock (president of CFH International Transportation Consulting in Orlando, Fla.) and a federal official based in the state of Washington, Randy Rogers, who is director of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska Gateway Office of the U.S. National Maritime Administration. Daniels was one of those whose name was added to the candidate list after the official application deadline.
The next meeting of the Manatee County Port Authority is Sept. 15, when most of the fianlists could be interviewed.
The issue of the late applicant arose during "Commissioner Comments," a section of the county commission meeting that normally comes at the end, when Port Authority chairman Larry Bustle of Palmetto revealed that a new candidate - described by another commissioner as a highly qualified, multilingual candidate formerly with the Port of Miami - had asked to be considered for the post. [On Wednesday, a port source said the deadline was set by the executive search firm that sought the applicants and was not necessarily a strict deadline.]
Bustle ran into flak on the suggestion from Manatee County at-large commissioner Joe McClash, prompting a sharp exchange between the two.
"I didn't mean it to be critical of you," said McClash, referring to his disparagement of the idea.
"Come on. Get serious, Joe," Bustle responded.
County Attorney T.N. Williams, who doesn't represent the port, suggested that no decision on adding the applicant be made if a meeting were held without the port's own attorney being present.
Commissioner John Chappie then raised a point of order on the propriety of arguing about the issue during a meeting of the county commission, not the port authority. Whitmore, as chair, upheld the point and soon allowed Bustle to open a meeting of the Port Authority - not an "emergency meeting" as he first called it, but a regular one, since it is noticed in the county commission's public agenda - and entertain a motion on the issue.
The discussion became friendlier as Bustle agreed to accept the port's attorney as an arbiter of its legality. But commissioner Donna Hayes said she was "uncomfortable" with adding the man to the "B" list even if the port attorney did approve doing so, as she was unsure she would want the unnamed man on the list.
[The late applicant was identified on Wednesday by a Port Authority source as Raul Alfonso, senior director of Trade Development and Global Marketing at the Port of Jacksonville, Fla.]
The discussion came after one of the six "A" list applicants selected after a meeting last week decided to remove his name from consideration. That meeting ended with a selection of the initial six, including two already working for the port, and another three potential candidates for the job.
Now, the port discussion indicated, one of those three will move into the slot that has opened up among the five now on the "A" list.
"I would feel very bad if this was the one [that should be hired] and we let it pass," said Carol Whitmore, who is chair of the Manatee County Commission.
The only fly in the ointment seemed to be that Whitmore set a condition for the meeting before she allowed Bustle to open it, something the chair of one body cannot do with respect to another body of equal standing, but that condition became a moot point almost immediately.
Commissioner Michael Gallen said his review of the man's rèsumé suggested he was a "fabulous" applicant. The commissioners had learned of the applicant after Bustle sent an email to members of the County Commission, who also make up the Port Authority.
The final vote on McClash's motion was 7-0 to approve adding the man if the attorney said it was harmless to do so and if Alliance Resource Consulting of Palo Alto, Calif., the search firm that reviewed and vetted applications, would not charge the port more money to add the candidate. Bustle then adjourned the port authority meeting and Whitmore reconvened the county commission.
The meeting of the county commission ended about a minute later, at 11:16am ET.