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.

Canaveral Port Authority's Dubea Flexes Propeller Club's Muscle

 CPA Deputy Director Jim Dubea

CPA Deputy Director Jim Dubea

In the email above, sent to Propeller Club members Monday afternoon, and obtained by tedlund.com, Dubea urged members to contact County Commissioners in an attempt to discredit Barfield and derail his resolution, scheduled for consideration in the County Commission Chambers in Viera, Thursday starting at 5 p.m. 

The email came from Propeller Club president Jim Dubea, but contained several attachments under official CPA cover. It included links to last Wednesday's Port Canaveral Rail Presentation by Floyd, a copy of Barfield's resolution and a sample letter for interested parties to cut, paste and forward to Commissioners. It was a clear attempt by the Propeller Club (and the CPA) to reign in County Commission and prevent them from taking any action that doesn't agree lock-step with the Canaveral Port Authority agenda.

There's just one problem.

Jim Dubea, if you aren't aware, is the CPA's point person for its rail project as well as government relations. When not inciting Propeller Club members to turn on each other and disparage local elected officials, he's hard at work at his day job as Port Canaveral's deputy director for government and strategic partnerships.

That's right: The CPA deputy director for government and strategic partnerships is openly attacking a sitting, elected official whose district encompasses Port Canaveral.

Dubea was at executive director John Walsh's side at the drubbing he took during the port's ill-fated, April 30th public informational meeting. After 23-years in the United States Coast Guard, he had this to say about a potential terror attack on port facilities via cargo container:

 

Dubea was also at Kathryn Floyd's side during the CPA's Aug. 26th meeting after the professional environmental regulatory ninja conveniently showed up to give Port Commissioners a primer on the current status of the rail process so that the CPA could educate the County Commissioners.

I believe our County Commissioners are smarter than that.

Fight for Canaveral Buoys Continues

 Buoy 410090 (the Canaveral 20-m buoy), one of two funded by NASA for the now defunct shuttle program, is scheduled to go offline next spring.

Buoy 410090 (the Canaveral 20-m buoy), one of two funded by NASA for the now defunct shuttle program, is scheduled to go offline next spring.

Here's a piece I just wrote about Mitch Roffer (Roff's Ocean Forecasting) efforts to keep two critical weather buoys in operation off the east coast of Central Florida for Florida Today. I have to commend Mitch for his efforts, the Canaveral Port Commission for going against that stated wishes of embattled executive director John Walsh and to District 2 County Commissioner Jim Barfield for also taking up the cause. 

Barfield and the Port have recently been at odds, as Barfield is introducing a resolution to the commission that opposes the Canaveral Commercial Rail Extension — a plan that would hew a 17-mile-long heavy cargo railroad over and through a federal manatee sanctuary, national wildlife refuge and critically endangered marginal wetlands habitat. 

Public comment will be heard and the resolution voted on Thursday, September 3, 2015, 5 PM Building C, first floor, in the Commission Chambers at 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera.

All interested parties (for or against) are encouraged to attend.

They Must Not Have Gotten The Memo...

 Kirk Damon Osborne

Kirk Damon Osborne

In 1994, 72-percent of Florida's voters approved the constitutional amendment banning the use of entanglement (gill) nets in Florida waters. Apparently, these two hard-working 'Murican commercial fishermen didn't get the memo...

 Todd Jay Brown

Todd Jay Brown

My colleague Jim Waymer at Florida Today brings us the tale of Todd Jay Brown, and Kirk Damen Osborne who were both arrested and face third-degree felony charges for allegedly possessing an illegal gill net or entangling net. Brown was also cited for allegedly possessing an oversized red drum and a tarpon without a tarpon tag, both second-degree misdemeanors. Read his story here.






An Open Letter to the Brevard County Commission On the Upcoming Resolution

Dear Commissioner:

My name is Ted Lund. I am an internationally-published writer, photographer and editor specializing in recreational angling, marine conservation and environmental issues. I was born and raised in Cocoa Beach, reside in District 2 and my career path has been directly influenced by the natural resources found along the Space Coast.

I am writing on behalf of the Banana River Lagoon and North Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (NMINWR) — which have no voice. 

I ask that you support Comm. Barfield’s resolution opposing the Canaveral Port Authority’s plans to erect a commercial cargo railway through Merritt Island.

The Banana River Lagoon — as part of the larger Indian River Lagoon complex — was designated an Estuary of National Significance under the National Estuary Program in 1987. A part of the NMINWR, this portion of the lagoon has been off-limits to mechanically-propelled vessels since 1991. This federally-managed refuge is home to the world’s largest concentration of endangered West Indian manatees as well as the largest breeding rookery of brown pelicans on the planet. In addition, it houses the last near-virgin stands of turtle and manatee grass left in the 156-mile-long IRL. More than 100,000 acres of seagrass have been lost lagoon-wide over the past decade; this area serves as a recharge zone for the rest of the lagoon thanks to conservation plans implemented in the 1950s with the arrival of NASA.

The lagoon and surrounding environmentally sensitive wetlands are home to dozens of vulnerable, threatened and endangered species including gopher tortoise, indigo snakes, four different species of sea turtles, Florida scrub jays, wood storks, snail kites and the iconic symbol of our great nation, the bald eagle.

In concert with the Indian River Lagoon, the Banana River Lagoon and NMINWR contribute nearly $750m in economic impact to our area via crucial jobs in the commercial and recreational fishing industries as well as through other tourism-related activities including paddleboarding, kayaking, windsurfing, birdwatching, ecotours and more. 

Your commission — in concert with regional, state and national lawmakers — is in the process of allocating nearly $10b to preserve and restore these fragile resources after more than a century of unbridled development and abuse.

All of these things either mean something or they don’t.

The Canaveral Port Authority’s plan to hew an 11-mile commercial cargo railway through the northern Banana River and environmentally sensitive wetlands on the margins of the Banana River Lagoon create a clear and present danger to a nationally-significant natural resource.

In closing, I ask that you err on the side of the resource and support Comm. Barfield’s resolution. Greed and myopic vision have brought us to this point; your long-term vision and concern for our community, its residents and resources can help us steer clear. 

No projected economic impact warrants the long-term, environmental, quality-of-life and socio-economic devastation that this project would inflict on Brevard County and its residents.

Sincerely,

Ted Lund

Ted Lund

Editor

tedlund.com

Twitter: @tedlundoutdoors