Port of Port Angeles executive director candidate revealed to be interim leader

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Longview resident Ken O'Hollaren, interim executive director for the Port of Port Angeles, has been identified as the port commissioners' choice to take the agency's top administrative job on a permanent basis at $145,000 a year.

A draft executive director contract for O'Hollaren, the former Port of Longview executive director, was posted
was posted at the port's website under “agendas and minutes” for consideration by commissioners at their regular meeting Tuesday (click on: http://wa-portofportangeles.civicplus.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/64?html=true ).

Commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the public meeting room at the port administrative building, 338 W. First St. in Port Angeles.

The revelation of O'Hollaren's candidacy was a surprise to port commission Vice President John Calhoun, who told Peninsula Daily News on Friday that the identity of the port's top and only prospect for the position would be revealed at Tuesday's meeting.

“I did not know [the contract] would have his name on it and so forth, but there it is; it's public information then,” Calhoun said Sunday afternoon.

Commissioners have kept O'Hollaren's name a secret since Jan. 27, when they emerged from an executive session and, with almost no discussion, directed port attorney Simon Barnhart to negotiate a contract with a candidate they refused to identify.

Calhoun said he is satisfied the hiring process was decided upon in open session, which has been questioned by Nancy Krier, state Assistant Attorney General for open government.

“Once you make a motion to make the decision to work on a contract with one individual, that necessarily precludes going forward with any other recruitment,” Calhoun said.

Keeping the name secret was “in the public interest” because identifying O'Hollaren “might have caused him to say, 'the hell with it, I just don't need it,'” he added.

“That's what happens with these high-profile positions.”

Calhoun said he expects commissioners will approve the contract at their March 11 regular meeting.

O'Hollaren, who did not return a call for comment early Sunday afternoon, was named interim director by commissioners July 29.

He took over for embattled former Executive Director Jeff Robb, who was rehired to the newly-created, unadvertised director of environmental affairs position June 24, the same day he resigned as the port's highest paid employee because of “serious health issues.”

When commissioners interviewed him for the interim post in public session July 19, O'Hollaren said he had read news accounts of Robb's departure and a whistle-blower complaint by then-port Director of Business Development Colleen McAleer that led to Robb's exit.

McAleer won election to former Commissioner Paul McHugh's Sequim-area seat in November.

O'Hollaren said during his interview that he viewed himself “as a facilitator.”

“[O'Hollaren] seems to bring a calming, reassuring effect to the whole position, and I thought those are standing attributes,” Calhoun said.

Robb's salary was and still is $138,000, but O'Hollaren's would be $145,000, according to the draft contract.

His interim director salary was about $11,500 a month, which annually would be $138,000.

The contract amount is “typical for port executive directors,” Calhoun said.

O'Hollaren, selected by the commissioners to the permanent post without the job being advertised, would be reimbursed for mileage for one weekly 370-mile round trip between his Longview residence and Port Angeles, according to the contract.

The mileage reimbursement rate is 56 cents per mile, equalling a roughly $207 payment for the trip.

O'Hollaren, who was 58 when hired as interim director, also would receive a $750 monthly housing allowance for up to six months, to end when he relocates to the North Olympic Peninsula, and would be reimbursed for relocation expenses not to exceed $10,000.

Calhoun said O'Hollaren and his wife already have begun looking for a home.

O'Hollaren also would receive six weeks of vacation leave and two weeks of sick leave.

"Mr. O'Hollaren will be granted six weeks of vacation leave and two weeks of sick leave upon the commencement date of employment," the draft contract says.

"Beginning on the first anniversary of the commencement date of employment, additional vacation leave shall accrue at the rate of six weeks per year. Beginning on the commencement date of employment, additional sick leave shall accrue in accordance with standard Port policy."

If he is terminated, O'Hollaren would be compensated for all accrued leave.

He retired from the Port of Longview in December 2012 after 24 years as its top administrator.

The port had hired the Seattle executive search firm Waldron to submit names of applicants for the permanent executive director position under a maximum $45,000 contract.

Calhoun said that in early January, before the search began, O'Hollaren told Calhoun he wanted the job and, Calhoun presumed, also told Commissioners McAleer and Jim Hallett.

Commissioners then conducted a job performance evaluation of O'Hollaren in executive session.

“I expressed my opinion that I thought he was an excellent candidate and exactly the kind of director we need on a permanent basis,” Calhoun said.

“To be able to see and observe a person's performance in an organization prior to hiring someone is a luxury commissioners rarely get.

“I hope we are ultimately successful in signing this contract.”

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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 24. 2014 9:05AM
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