Tag: Mike McAuley
Port of Bellingham Commissioner Mike McAuley suggests that an industrial-sized boat lift might be a good investment for a port that just lost a potential new employer because of a lack of large boat-launching options on the south side waterfront.
Aluminum Boats Australia had been in the final stages of a lease agreement with the Port of Bellingham, but the lack of launch facilities turned out to be a deal-breaker.
In a post on his MikeatthePort blog, McAuley notes that improving the boat launch capacity in the area has been ruled out by environmental concerns about the eelgrass at the nearby mouth of Padden Creek. Could a pier extension and a lift provide what potential boatbuilding firms need, without dredging?
Port of Bellingham commissioners are holding their regular 3 p.m. public meeting today (Tuesday, Aug. 17) at 3 p.m. in the Harbor Center conference room on Roeder Avenue, but the 1 p.m. closed session is likely to get the most public attention.
As state law allows, the commissioners will convene in a closed session at 1 p.m. to discuss “personnel matters, pending litigation and real estate transactions.” The “personnel” part of the meeting is expected to include an0ther discussion about (former?) Port Executive Director Charlie Sheldon, whose resignation was forced in a 2-1 vote on April 3, with Mike McAuley the dissenter.
Since then, Port Commissioner Jim Jorgensen has indicated some willingness to reconsider his decision to side with outspoken Sheldon critic Scott Walker to force Sheldon’s ouster, and Sheldon has said his return to the port’s top executive job is not out of the question if he gets the support.
Sheldon’s backers have mounted a vigorous campaign to get Jorgensen to change his mind, including both old-fashioned and online petition drives. The supporters also plan to show up in force for the meeting.
Former City Council member John Watts offers a lengthy analysis of the situation on his Hamster Talk blog.
Among other things, Watts suggests that Sheldon’s openness to considering other uses for the G-P treatment lagoon, instead of port officials’ longstanding dream of a new marina, helped turn Scott Walker and key port staffers against him.
I have heard that theory too, and it has some credibility for me. But Walker left me a voicemail message denying any link. I’m doing some additional checking.
Watts also observes that the Sheldon dismissal, and the way it was conducted, has done a lot to undermine public confidence in the port’s leadership.
It does look as though the episode has alienated the very people that the port needs to cultivate, in order to get a waterfront master plan through City Council after too many years of delay. An approval process that might otherwise have been relatively smooth is now likely to be bitter and contentious. Old suspicions about the port’s lack of accountability and hidden agendas are likely to flare anew as the master plan moves into the public hearing phase before the Planning Commission and City Council.