Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Litigation Fear Led to Port Angeles Rehiring, Commissioner Says

It was the fear of a lawsuit being filed that led the Port of Port Angeles Commission to rehire executive director Jeff Robb to a different job at the same pay after he resigned June 24, according to one port commissioner.

In a June 27 interview with the Peninsula Daily News, which covers Washington state’s North Olympic Peninsula, Port Commissioner John Calhoun said Robb was awarded a one-year contract to become the port’s environmental affairs director because the relationship between Robb and senior members of port staff had become so dysfunctional that it had become possible that either party could sue.
“To avoid that, we settled on this course of action,” Calhoun told the newspaper.

Robb submitted his resignation as executive director on June 24 citing health problems.

“I have had a number of serious health issues for a number of months that have not improved with time,” he told the commission during the meeting.

Calhoun said Robb’s health problems were caused by stress.

Immediately after his resignation, Robb was hired by the port commission at the same salary -- $138,000 annually -- to fill the newly-created, previously unadvertised environmental affairs director position.

The vote was 2-1, with Commission President Jim Hallett against. Robb’s one-year contract that is effective July 31. The hiring has been characterized as “a sweetheart deal” because Robb is one year away from retirement and from qualifying for state retirement benefits.

Robb, who has been with the Port of Port Angeles since 1984, was promoted to executive director in August 2009. If he completes his upcoming one-year contract, he’ll have 30 years of service with the port.

Port Angeles has retained executive-search firm Waldron & Co. to find candidates for the executive director position, and the commission says it hopes to name an interim director at its July 8 meeting.