Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New LB Harbor Commissioner Chosen

Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster has chosen former city controller Lori Ann Farrell as his first pick to fill one of two recently created vacancies on the city’s Board of Harbor Commissioners.

Farrell, who now works for the nearby City of Huntington Beach, is set to replace Board Vice President Nick Sramek, who resigned Nov. 21. Sramek’s exit came two days after the Long Beach City Council decided on a 6-3 vote to fire Harbor Commission President Thomas Fields.

Fields, a Long Beach advertising executive and former city planning commissioner, was appointed to a six-year term on the Board by Foster in December 2009 and in June 2013, he was elected to a one-year term as board president by his fellow commissioners.

He had come under pressure from personnel within the port and City of Long Beach in recent months for numerous reasons, including a perceived overbilling of the port for travel expenses. Fields had traveled extensively out of the country on port business over the past two years, including to Hong Kong, Montreal, Europe and Guatemala, sometimes racking up tens of thousands of dollars in expenses.

Sramek’s first six-year term on the board expired July 1, but had remained on the commission the past few months while the mayor was deciding whether to reappoint or replace him.

According to the mayor, Sramek cited fatigue as a reason for his resignation and said the firing of Fields played no part in his decision. In his day job, Sramek is a senior project leader in system engineering for The Aerospace Corp, where he’s worked for over 30 years.

The woman replacing him has been the director of finance for the City of Huntington Beach since December 2010. Before that, she spent three years as Long Beach’s Chief Financial Officer, and was the city’s Controller from 2006-2008.

She previously worked for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney as a financial advisor, and also in financial roles for the city and state of New York.

In a statement, Foster called Farrell “the ideal candidate who demonstrated financial discipline while she served as the city of Long Beach chief financial officer,” and said he was confident that she would serve the commission well while the port department is “going through several new changes.”

Foster also said he’s still searching for a candidate to serve the remaineder of Fields’ six-year term, which expires in December 2015.