Special Meeting of the Canaveral Port Authority

It appears that the five elected commissioners of the Canaveral Port Authority have listened to their constituents over concerns about the amount of damage that endangered CEO John Walsh could do under a pre-arranged resignation brokered at the CPA's last meeting. 

You can also read about the meeting and possible ramifications by FLORIDA TODAY's Dave Berman. 

 

John Walsh in His Own Words

A lot has been written and said about John Walsh. I was driving to work this morning, and happened to stumble upon WMMB's Bill Mick talking about John Walsh's dismissal. I though't I'd set the record straight. Go to the 12:30 mark. 

But there is also the question of the letters/emails that Walsh sent to folks in the County. We already looked at the letter he sent to County Commissioner Andy Anderson, where he referred to Brevard County as a "second-class community."

So, if he was willing to insult the 560,000-plus people that live in our 72-mile long county — why would he care what Linda Weatherman of the Economic Development Council thinks? The bizzare thing is if you read from the bottom up, Ms. Weatherman was actually inviting Walsh to participate and join one of the EDC's boards:

Then, there is the bizarre tale of Walsh's response to General Victor "Gene" Ruenart, who has spent more than 2 years working with the USAF and Department of Defense on a plan to build commercial rail through Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to benefit not only Port Canaveral, but also the USAF, Navy, Army and civilian space contractors. But Walsh was skeptical; so much so, that one commissioner told me that one could infer that Walsh had pre-existing relationships that could potentially benefit from the preferred routes that would hew an 11-mile long heavy cargo railway over the Banana River and through the North Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.

Dealing with the public was never John Walsh's strong suit. Apparently, neither was playing well with others.

What Do You Get For $396,600.80?

The services of two of the country's top environmental ninjas, that's what.

That whopping number is what Venable LLC's Kathryn Floyd ($562 per hour) and Jay Johnson ($508 per hour) have billed the Canaveral Port Authority through May 31st of this year for working on the CPA's embattled cargo rail plan. Invoices for June, July and August have not been submitted yet.

It works out to an average of $44,066.76 per month — but ranges from a low of $13,119.40 for 21 days in their first month of employment (June 2014) to a high of $62183.5 the following month.

In an engagement letter dated Jun 9, 2014 to CPA's deputy director and point man for rail, Jim Dubea, Floyd outlined her and Johnson's fees for "regulatory and environmental advice and strategy in connection with the Port’s plans to develop rail service, including review by federal agencies under the National Environmental Policy Act."

In addition to the fees, the Canaveral Port Authority is responsible for:

  • Internal photocopy requests in excess of 1,000 pages at $0.10/page
  • Out-of-pocket charges. Examples include commercial messenger deliveries, external telephone conferencing services, filing fees, transcripts, outside copying or document management, printing, transportation, meals, and out-of-town lodging. Out-of-pocket charges more than $1000 will be sent directly to you for payment or, if you prefer, we can establish a separate expense retainer that will be held in an escrow account to pay these expenses.
  • Paying the costs and expenses of any consultants or witnesses that Venable engages on the CPA's behalf; they are billed separately.

Records pertaining to any of the additional consultant/witness expenses were not readily available but are part of another FOIA request by tedlund.com.

Kathryn Floyd is the Canaveral Port Authority's $568 per hour environmental ninja tasked with helping beat back opposition to its controversial commercial rail plan. 

Kathryn Floyd is the Canaveral Port Authority's $568 per hour environmental ninja tasked with helping beat back opposition to its controversial commercial rail plan. 

Floyd is a partner in Venable, LLC, a high-profile Washington, D.C.-based law firm that specializes in such matters. Her areas of expertise include transportation, railways, energy, mining and fracking.

From her official Venable bio: "She has extensive experience counseling companies regarding controversial hot-button projects that draw attention from regulatory agencies and outside groups threatening litigation or disruptions. Ms. Floyd consistently helps clients shape strategic responses and catalogue a documented record to minimize risk, advance approvals and, when necessary, beat back lawsuits. Many of these engagements arise when clients’ projects face opposition under environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Historic Preservation Act and the Endangered Species Act. 

Stay tuned... there's plenty of more FOIA requests inbound to help document John Walsh's reign of error as the CEO of the Canaveral Port Authority. 

 

Questions Mount About Port CEO's Raise and Extension

Walsh should spend more time working to improve and develop what we have, instead of constantly wanting to develop more. Bigger is not always better.
— CPA Chairman Jerry Allender
John is getting a reputation for telling people what they want to hear, but then doing the opposite. John needs to faithfully implement policies and decisions made by the commission, not try to undermine decisions he does not agree with.
— CPA Commissioner Bruce Deardoff
Walsh does not take criticism from staff or public... there is a lack of direction and oversight (among department heads and managers) when Walsh is away. Some managers are “afraid to make decisions” if Walsh is away.
— CPA Chairman Jerry Allender
John continues to do a good job,” but “is being very brusque with the public, which creates unnecessary bad feelings.
— CPA Commissioner Hank Evans

Walsh's harshest critic was CPA Chairman Jerry Allender, which is surprising. Despite Allender, Com. Hank Evans and Com. Bruce Deardoff giving Walsh scathing reviews, Allender — at the very end of their Aug. 26 meeting and following public comment — brought forth a motion to raise Walsh's pay to $250,747 per year, a 5.4-percent raise. They also decided to extend Walsh's contract two years to 2018. Neither of the topics was on the agenda, and just prior to bringing up the subject Allender chastised Walsh and staff for not bringing agenda items to them in a timely manner.

The vote was not unanimous, however. Just before Allender started discussing the compensation issue, Evans stood up and left the chamber. Walsh's compensation and contract passed 4-0 with commissioners Allender, Deardoff, Justice and Weinberg voting in favor of it.

Walsh: Opponents Move "Untimely, Cowardly."

Seems like everybody is coming down on embattled Port Canaveral CEO John Walsh for remarks made during an Aug. 26 Canaveral Port Authority meeting where he referred to voters andtax-payers as "Luddites with websites," "radicals," "dogs," and "people whose own children can't make them happy."

But, hey. He apologized for those remarks. What's done is done. Story over, right?

Well, not so fast.

What Walsh neglected to include in his apology were denigrating statements aimed at County Commissioner Jim Barfield and other rail-route opponents in an email to Brevard County Commissioner Andy Anderson.

The email in question with subjectline Jim Barfield Resolution,  was obtained via public records requests by tedlund.com. Walsh sent the impassioned plea to Anderson on Aug. 31, just days after his "Luddite" comments at a public Port meeting.

In the email, he referred to opponents as "untimely cowards," and appealed to Anderson's Palm Bay roots by pointing out potential job growth for his district based on the Port's growth.

Just one problem.

Anderson's district is in the far southern reaches of the county and doesn't even have representation on the Canaveral Port Authority board.

Walsh went on to say "I am counting on you to do the right thing. You have always been a proven growth leader. " and "We need to see your leadership and commitment to a better Brevard County and a strong and diverse economy. Growth has always been your mantra and as an economic developer you know its value."

Walsh also referred to Brevard County as a "second-class county and community," and said that a vote in favor of Barfield's resolution opposing the Port's Merritt Island rail routes would assure that it would be, because his was a "backward viewpoint."

It's an interesting choice of words. Now, rather than just picking on his opponents, Walsh is slamming the entire 72-mile long county and all of its 560,000 residents.

His final line?

"Please vote 'NO' on the proposed resolution."

Walsh had better hope his public apology carried more weight than his email to Anderson. Barfield's resolution passed unanimously, amidst Anderson displaying his displeasure with Walsh and the rest of the CPA leadership in closing remarks just prior to voting.