By Paul Gottlieb, August 27, 2013, Peninsula Daily News
Jim Hallett was replaced Monday as president of the Port of Port Angeles Board of Commissioners by his fellow two commissioners in the wake of controversy surrounding former Executive Director Jeff Robb’s resignation.
Commissioner Paul McHugh also suggested that Robb reassume his position as executive director, but the move went unsupported by Hallett and Commissioner John Calhoun.
Calhoun, who was board president in 2012 and joined McHugh in voting Hallett to the top spot in January, was voted back as president until the board votes on officers after the Nov. 5 general election.
Hallett is now the board’s secretary-treasurer, while McHugh — already eliminated from the November election — remains its vice president.
Hallett, a former Port Angeles city councilman and mayor who was elected to the port board in 2012, said in a later interview that he was not surprised at being replaced as board president.
He voted for his own removal and for Calhoun to become board president.
“I suppose I could say I’m relieved, but that wouldn’t be a true statement,” Hallett said.
“There’s a clear difference in philosophy, so that’s probably all I would want to comment on that.”
McHugh will be replaced in January by either port Director of Business Development Colleen McAleer, who filed a port-lease-related whistle-blower complaint, or event services company co-owner Del DelaBarre.
McAleer and DelaBarre bested McHugh in the Aug. 6 primary.
McHugh made the motion that Hallett should be removed as board president.
McHugh said “revelations” in recent weeks centering on the June 24 resignation of Robb showed that Hallett no longer speaks for the rest of the board.
Hallett was the lone vote against Robb’s new contract as director of environmental affairs through July 2014 at the same $138,000 salary he made as executive director.
In a May 15 email to McAleer, Hallett said he wanted “to make a change at the top,” encouraged McAleer to run for office, said he would file a whistle-blower complaint if he could and pledged to back McAleer or any other employee who believes they had been “harmed” by Robb.
Hallett said last week that he was not referring to removing Robb as executive director.
The other two commissioners took issue during Monday’s board meeting.
“You are actually proceeding with your own agenda,” McHugh said.
Calhoun agreed with McHugh’s assessment that Hallett no longer could lead the board.
“I am concerned whether you, now, as chairman [president] of the commission, you are as effective as we would like because of all the fallout from all this issue,” Calhoun said.
Hallett, a professional financial adviser in Port Angeles, immediately yielded the president’s gavel — and his seat in the middle of the three commissioners — to Calhoun.
“It’s real clear that anybody that speaks for the commissioners speaks at the pleasure of the commissioners,” Hallett said.
“If either or both of you wants to change who chairs the meetings, that’s within your power.
“Let’s swap seats. We might as well do it now. It’s cool.”
When he swapped nameplates with Calhoun, Hallett quipped: “You don’t want to be me.”
The board president presides at all commission public meetings and executive sessions, signs all resolutions, contracts and other instruments on behalf of the commission, and reviews proposed agendas.
Hallett, the 2010 and 2011 president of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, was on the Port Angeles City Council from 1986 through 1993, including time spent as mayor.
Port Issues to go on November Ballot:
Clallam County voters will decide Nov. 5 if they want the Port of Port Angeles Board of Commissioners to expand from three to five members and have their terms reduced from six years to four years.
Port commissioners approved the ballot measures Monday.
Interim port Executive Director Ken O’Hollaren said ballot language would be ready for review by the Clallam County Auditor’s Office by Friday at the latest.
New board president John Calhoun joined Commissioners Jim Hallett and Paul McHugh in voting to put the measures on the ballot.
Calhoun estimated that individual commissioner costs average about $20,000 a year in salary, benefits and travel expenses.
It also would cost more if terms are reduced to four years because there would be more elections.
But expanding to five members would be “a reasonable investment,” Calhoun added.
The three commissioners cannot talk about port business outside of an officially called meeting because two members constitute a quorum.
But Johnson cautioned that individual members of five-person boards cannot participate in “serial meetings.” by meeting one-on-one until a quorum is reached on a particular topic.
— Peninsula Daily News