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Jaxport overlooks Schleicher and three port heavies picking Anderson

Port chooses former maritime commissioner as CEO

The Jacksonville Port Authority board voted unanimously Friday to negotiate with A. Paul Anderson of Fort Lauderdale to become the port’s next CEO.

 

Anderson is a former member of the Federal Maritime Commission and brings experience in state and federal government.

 

“My fellow selection committee members and I separately came to the conclusion that Paul’s breadth of experience is ideally suited to the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead,” said David Kulik, the authority’s board chair. “Today’s collective discussion and the full board’s approval now pave the way for the next steps in the process. I look forward to the successful conclusion of this contract negotiation period in the near future,” he said.

 

Kulik said he wanted to be able to introduce the new CEO at the port’s Jan. 24 meeting. The process to choose a new leader began in August after former Executive Director Rick Ferrin resigned. The board hired Boyden Global Executive Search to screen candidates.

 

Before the search began, the board made it known that the port had to increase the speed at which it does business to meet the opportunities that will become available when the expansion of the Panama Canal is completed in 2014.

 

The board also made it known that new and creative methods needed to be developed to secure state and federal funding to more quickly complete projects, including solving the Mile Point navigational issues and deepening the shipping channel to 50 feet.

 

That speed may pick up with the help of Anderson’s experience in Washington, D.C.

 

Anderson served on the Federal Maritime Commission from 2004-2008.

 

He is a former Senior Fellow of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

He worked for the ranking member of the committee, U.S. Rep John Mica, who will chair the committee during the 112th Congress.

 

Anderson’s experience also includes serving as vice president of government relations and public affairs for JM Family Enterprises in Deerfield Beach from 1994-2003. Southeast Toyota, which operates through the port authority’s Talleyrand Marine Terminal, is a part of JM Family Enterprises.

 

Anderson did not attend Friday’s meeting and calls were not returned.

 

The field of candidates also included port Chief Commercial Officer Roy Schleicher, who was the board’s second choice; David Morgan, senior vice president of the U.S. South Atlantic Region at Ports America Group in Savannah, Ga.; Wade Battles, vice president of the maritime and ports section and regional manager in the Houston office of Halcrow; and Stephen Edwards, a former president and CEO of Ports America Group in Iselin, N.J.

 

Both Edwards and Morgan withdrew their applications before completion of the review process.

 

The board’s selection committee consisted of the executive members of the board, including Kulik, Vice Chair Buck Fowler, Treasurer Herschel Vinyard and Secretary Reginald Gaffney.

 

They all interviewed each candidate and presented their recommendations to the board at the Friday meeting.

 

“The process was exhaustive. We had an hour with each of the five candidates,” said Fowler. “It was interesting, of the five candidates, only two really tried to sell themselves, Paul Anderson and Roy Schleicher. The others just went through the motions.”

 

Though the board eventually voted unanimously to pursue Anderson for the position, the current chief commercial officer received support.

 

“Mr. Schleicher has demonstrated his passion and loyalty to the port through his development efforts,” said Gaffney. “I feel it is in the best interest of the port to give Roy the recognition, compensation and title commensurate with the CEO for the accomplishments achieved to date and to reach future goals,” he said.

 

Charles Spencer, executive vice president of the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District of the International Longshoremen’s Association, wrote a letter to the board in support of Schleicher for the position.

 

“The board appeared to put the most weight on being able to interface with government leaders and get the most government funds,” said Spencer after the meeting.

 

“I don’t put that as number one. I think the CEO should be someone who knows the industry and can interface with the major carriers throughout the world to attract them to Jacksonville. You need to have the business before you go after the funds,” he said.

 

The board previously voted to use the executive members of the board as the selection committee. Members Stephen Busey and Jim Citrano were left to make their decisions from the committee’s report and had no contact with the applicants. They both had questions before they voted.

 

“It’s unclear to me if (Anderson) has chief executive officer experience,” said Citrano. “Is he more than a lobbyist who can get his hands on money?”

 

Anderson’s last position was president of International Oil Shipping Co. based in Boca Raton. He explained his duties in his resume as “executive management and operations for a privately held diversified oil transportation company operating a fleet of chemical carriers providing services to a diverse range of customers in the chemical, petroleum and bio-fuel trades industries.”

 

“Obviously, Jim and I were not involved in the process and I really don’t have enough information to make a judgment on this, absent my confidence in (the selection committee’s) judgment,” said Busey. “For that reason I am going to abstain from voting.”

 

But Assistant General Counsel Michelle Moore, who represents the port authority for the City, informed Busey that he could not abstain from the vote.

 

“According to your charter, any member present at a meeting must vote, unless there is a possible conflict of interest,” said Moore.

 

Busey then stated that he would vote “strictly on my reliance on my confidence in (the selection committee’s) judgment.”

 

As chief commercial officer for the port, Schleicher was present at the meeting and wanted to hear a different selection by the board.

 

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed,” said Schleicher. “But the board had a very good process and I respect the board’s decision. I’m going to work just as hard tomorrow as I did today.”

 

Board member Joe York was on vacation and could not attend the meeting.

 

The board also approved port authority staff to negotiate a salary not to exceed $325,000. Kulik directed Kenyatta Lee, port senior director, to research what similar ports were paying CEOs in order to come up with the salary number.

 

“Now it’s up to us to negotiate to the best of our ability to get below that number,” said Kulik.

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