Port of Port Angeles says it will reveal its executive director candidate Tuesday; ‘no decision made in executive session’

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The name of the mystery person the Port of Port Angeles wants to hire as executive director — without seeking other applicants — will be revealed at Tuesday’s port commissioners’ meeting.

The meeting is at 9 a.m. in the public meeting room of the port administrative building, 338 W. First St.

Commissioners have kept the identity of the applicant secret ever since going into an executive session Jan. 27, after which they emerged and unanimously directed port attorney Simon Barnhart to negotiate a contract without deciding on the hiring process in open session.

Tuesday will be the time to make the identity of that person known as well as the terms of the proposed contract, though commissioners are not expected to make a hiring decision Tuesday, board Vice President John Calhoun said Friday.

He said he was “certain, very certain,” that the identity would be revealed, adding that he did not expect the commissioners to take final action on a contract.

“Once [negotiations] matured to a certain point where we have a contract to consider, I think it’s appropriate for the public to know who we’re dealing with,” Calhoun said.

“I look at this as the normal course of the recruitment and negotiation and hiring process,” Calhoun said.

“Now, it’s time for the public to know who we are talking with and what the terms of the contract are and to be able to comment on those issues,” Calhoun added.

“I don’t know why it’s described by various people as secret, but it’s the normal process.”

Calhoun would not say whether the person’s name was submitted by the Seattle executive-search firm Waldron.

The company has a maximum $45,000 contract with the port to find suitable applicants for the position, which has an annual salary range of $114,056 to $154,310.

Nancy Krier, state assistant attorney general for open government, was contacted by the Peninsula Daily News last week about the commissioners’ executive-director hiring process.

Krier said the commissioners cannot take final action in executive session, where the public can be barred from observing the proceedings of elected officials.

She said she was concerned that commissioners had set up a hiring process in executive session, which does not fall under activities allowed in meetings closed to the public.

“If a governing body is meeting and the quorum requirements are there and they decided the process they use for hiring and that kind of thing, that kind of thing is subject to the Open Public Meetings Act,” Krier said.

“Standing from the outside, which I am, and knowing what little I know, these are the questions I have.”

Krier said she called port lawyer Simon Barnhart of Port Angeles to discuss the matter and suggested he review the issue with the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington.

After talking with a representative of the MRSC, Barnhart said Friday that he is satisfied port commissioners acted within the law.

“No decision was made in executive session,” he said.

Barnhart added that he expects the commissioners will direct him Tuesday to finalize the contract with the soon-to-be-named executive-director applicant and bring the agreement back to them for approval at an upcoming commissioners’ meeting.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 22. 2014 6:02PM
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