Port director Hyde resigns under pressure

By Joan Pringle, November 12, 2014, Anacortes American

Bob Hyde is out as executive director of the Port of Anacortes after an eight-year tenure.

His resignation, engineered by port commissioners, came at Thursday night’s port commission meeting following an executive session.

Chris Johnson, the port’s deputy executive director, was named acting executive director by the commission after a two-hour executive session Monday morning.

At a special public meeting held with port employees before Monday’s executive session, Commission President Bob Eberle said Hyde’s resignation came because commissioners want to see the port go in a new direction.

The commission failed to give any clearer reason for the departure or describe the new direction it envisions.

At the same time, commissioners lauded Hyde for accomplishments such as mending relations with the city, the state Department of Ecology and the Federal Aviation Administration, increasing business at Cap Sante Marina and completing major environmental cleanups with Ecology on port properties.

Eberle said Hyde’s resignation was due to an accumulation of things. He added that he had been conducting his own fact-finding mission for the past three or four weeks with commercial customers and employees. He did not divulge what he found out through that investigation.

Commissioner Bill Short said he had been speaking to marina staff, indicating there were disgruntled employees there. He added that he had concerns of a high turnover rate of port employees, and the port was at risk of losing a good team.

“That’s why we took the action we did,” Short said.

According to Leah Hines, port marketing manager, the port has had four full-time employee resignations this year to date. The port has 28 full-time positions.

The rest of the commission spoke vaguely about the reason for Hyde’s departure. Commissioner Pat Mooney said the four commissioners who voted to accept his resignation wanted Hyde out — and wanted Hyde to be able to leave the port as civilly as possible. Hyde was told it was time for him to move on and he gracefully agreed, Mooney said.

Since the beginning of the year, the port has been in contentious negotiations with five maintenance workers who voted last year to become part of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 25.

The workers and other members of nearby unions have repeatedly spoken at commission meetings of the unfair tactics being used by the port administration, naming Hyde and Johnson particularly.

At Monday’s meeting the possibility surfaced that former port employee John Hachey would serve as interim executive director.

Eberle announced the news at the beginning of the meeting, saying it was his “sense” that the commission would chose Hachey to serve in the executive session. The commission plans to discuss the issue at another special meeting at 10 a.m. Monday.

Hachey retired from the port in May 2012 as its operations and facilities director. After his retirement, the port reorganized, transferring his duties to other staff instead of filling his position.

Eberle said Hachey was driving up from Florida and was expected to arrive here Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Monday’s meeting was attended by port employees and about 10 people from the public including former port commissioner Chuck Mallory.

“It was just the sense of the commission that there was a time for change,” Eberle responded when asked by Mallory if Hyde was told he would be fired if he did not resign.

Brenda Lavender questioned the commission extensively on why Hyde was told he would be fired, why Johnson wasn’t being considered for the permanent position and why Hachey was on his way up from Florida.

Lavender said it seemed like a reversal to the days of the “good old boys” when you didn’t know what was going on at the port.

Eberle repeated loudly that Hyde was not fired, that he resigned. He went on to say there was no single reason for his departure and that many things over time came to a head.

Commissioner Ray Niver, the lone dissenter in accepting Hyde’s resignation, insisted he was kept out of the loop by the other commissioners and did not know the reason Hyde was asked to resign.

In response, Eberle said Niver was present at the executive session when the matter was discussed at length.

The issue of a possible breach of the state’s Open Public Meetings Act came up when Niver said he was told by Rubin about a meeting at Mooney’s home.

Eberle and Mooney said they were both at that meeting. Eberle insisted since it was just the two of them, no open meetings rules were broken.

When Short was asked directly by Lavender if he was at the meeting he said yes, but not at the same time as Mooney.

Eberle first said he was not aware of the “rolling meeting” rules within the Open Public Meetings Act and then said the situation at Mooney’s home did not apply.

Short said the meeting was just to gather information.

A rolling or serial meeting is when meetings “happen incrementally by one trustee approaching another, and then separately approaching each different trustee on the same topic, until the board has collectively considered an issue that should be discussed in an open public meeting,” according to the Washington state Office of the Attorney General.

Hyde joined the port in 2006. He spoke of the port’s accomplishments during his tenure in a statement released Friday.

“I am proud of our accomplishments in our relations with the city, community, improvements to public access, our Focus Fidalgo environmental cleanup projects in cooperation with the Department of Ecology, our growth of Cap Sante Marina as the premier marina in northwest Washington, and our community defined north and west basin development plan, adopted as an amendment to our comprehensive plan,” Hyde wrote. “I am especially proud of our staff and their accomplishments.”

Hyde thanked the commissioners for the honor of serving as executive director and said they thanked him for his dedication and leadership in turning around an organization with no political capital into one that is respected by our community, the city, and state and government organizations.

A statement released Friday by the port’s attorney Frank Chmelik, said “the commissioners individually and as a group thanks Mr. Hyde for his eight years of dedicated service to the port of Anacortes and the citizens.”


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