By Paul Gottlieb, July 30, 2013, Peninsula Daily News
Retired Port of Longview Executive Director Ken O’Hollaren has been named interim executive director of the Port of Port Angeles.
Port commissioners unanimously selected O’Hollaren over retired Port of Port Angeles Executive Director Jerry Hendricks in a special meeting Monday following a 15-minute executive session to discuss the qualifications of both finalists.
They did not explain why they picked O’Hollaren over Hendricks.
O’Hollaren, who is expected to start by Aug. 6, will succeed Jeff Robb, who resigned June 24 for health reasons and was rehired as the new director of environmental affairs by the commissioners the same day.
O’Hollaren will make “in the range” of $11,500 a month — Robb’s former and current salary — for an estimated six to nine months until a permanent executive director is hired, commission President Jim Hallett said in an interview following the selection.
That means a permanent director will be on board after the Nov. 5 election for the commission’s Sequim-area District 1 seat held by appointed incumbent Paul McHugh, an ex-Sequim City Council member.
McHugh is in an Aug. 6 primary race that includes port Director of Business Development Colleen McAleer and events company owner Del DelaBarre.
Commissioners will contract for O’Hollaren’s services through the Seattle executive search firm Waldron, which also is under contract to find candidates for the permanent director position.
Neither Hendricks nor O’Hollaren was present for Monday’s vote.
Commissioners also unanimously voted that O’Hollaren will perform the duties of executive director as set forth in the port’s master policy, so he can do what the commissioners have had to do for the past month without a top administrator: approve expenditures over $5,000 — which they did Monday.
“I would like him, from Day 1, to have all the authority of the executive director so we do not have to do this again,” Commissioner John Calhoun said.
“It will be very gratifying to have him on board.”
Commissioners focused on the circumstances surrounding Robb’s departure during public interviews July 19 with O’Hollaren and Hendricks.
Prior to Robb’s departure, Port Angeles lawyer Donna Knifsend issued a series of scathing internal reports in which employees were critical of his tenure as executive director.
Knifsend had determined the port “is dysfunctional on several levels.”
O’Hollaren said he had read news accounts of Robb’s departure and a whistle-blower complaint by McAleer that led to Robb’s exit and said he viewed himself “as a facilitator.”
O’Hollaren, who retired from the Port of Longview in 2012 after 24 years as its top administrator, also pledged to tackle the port-lease-related issues that McAleer had outlined in her complaint.
He also said he would focus the attention of the port’s senior staff “strictly on the work plan ahead of them without distractions.”
Robb had claimed that senior staff were going around him to bring their concerns directly to the commissioners rather than follow the port’s chain of command.
On Monday, commissioners were still dealing with the aftermath of Robb’s departure as they discussed where he will work in his new position until his retirement in July 2014.
Hallett, referring to Robb as “this person” and “this individual” instead of by name, took issue with Robb’s decision to work at the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe’s Economic Development Authority offices on Business Park Loop in Carlsborg.
Robb’s new contract allows him “to work from locations other than the port administrative offices unless otherwise directed by the executive director.”
Hallett had voted against the contract.
“This individual is telling us where he is choosing to work,” Hallett said.
“I don’t think any port employee has the opportunity to choose where they work.”
Hallett also criticized Robb for using the tribe’s office as what Robb said was “a gift” from the tribe, which Hallett said puts Robb in a compromising position.
“We have a person out there doing things they are not authorized to do and creating a problem again.”
Calhoun said the office was the port’s, not Robb’s.
The issue of where Robb will work “is settled,” McHugh said.
“He’s moving to vacant space at [the port’s] John Wayne Marina.”
Port lawyer Dave Neupert of Port Angeles said he worked out the John Wayne Marina arrangement with Robb — a process that Hallett also criticized directly to Neupert.
“I’m not aware of a staff person having the ability to discuss with legal counsel where they choose to work and leaving it up to you to assist them to determining where that is acceptable,” Hallett said.
Commissioners approved $2,821 in staff expense reports for March through July, all but $132 of which was submitted by Marine Terminal Manager Mike Nimmo.
Nimmo submitted reports for 12 “promotional hosting” events, and for travel to Canada, Houston, Tacoma and Vancouver, Wash., according to the meeting memo to the board.