By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

In a contentious meeting Tuesday, staff demanded Port of Brookings Harbor commissioners return Port Manager Gary Dehlinger’s port-provided cell phone and keys to them, saying they were uncomfortable with them having them and thus, access to employee records.

According to staff member Travis Webster, he told commissioners why staff needed the phone and noted a public records request had been submitted it. He later confirmed Kyle Aubin of Tidewind Sportfishing had filed the public records request.

Port Attorney Jim Coffey, attending by speaker phone, said the phone and keys could be kept in the port office or by the commissioners, “it’s just a matter of who feels uncomfortable.”

Board President Angi Christian said she would follow the board’s previous direction and keep the phone.

Webster asked, “Why does the commission think they need to access that phone first?”

In a heated exchange, Christian reminded staff they work for the commissioners.

“No, they don’t,” Commissioner Roy Davis responded. “The manager works for the commissioners.”

Davis said the phone should be returned to the port’s safe.

In other news Gary Klein accused the board of appointing subcommittees to, “hide its actions from the public.”

In other news

•Webster and staff member Brent Ferguson said Umpqua Bank had not approved a loan for the port and would not approve further loans until the commissioners hired a manager with experience running a port.

Ferguson said staff had contacted M2, the company that financed the port’s travel lift, to see if they would finance the telehandler, a large multipurpose forklift. He was optimistic they would proceed.

The board instructed Webster to work with M2 and Christian to contact Umpqua to see if local financing could be secured.

Webster was originally instructed to re-inspect the Pac Choice dock with Dave Gowers’ Engineering, but later in the meeting, acting on concerns raised by Commissioner Andy Martin, the board voted to cancel the inspection.

Martin felt a new inspection was unnecessary because an inspection had already been done, the dock was already closed and the port was seeking funding to replace it.

Martin asked Webster about the status of the temporary fuel dock and Webster said it was functioning as usual.

•The board also voted to have Webster supervise office staff as well as outside activities and gave him a 10 percent raise until an interim manager was hired.

•The board discussed hiring an interim manager, but Webster pointedly asked Coffey if a port commission under possible recall should decide on an interim manager.

Coffey told him to ask for the job if he wanted it. After an awkward moment when Webster repeated his concern, Martin said commissioners should not stop functioning as a board due to petitions for recall.

The commissioners, who had previously considered naming Kathy Lindley Hall interim port manager, voted unanimously to have port counsel review a contract before presenting it to her and her attorney. If Hall accepts, the board will decide whether to hire her.

•The board then moved to form a subcommittee to work on issues surrounding Dehlinger’s employment.

“This is going to be going on, for, if we’re lucky, the next three to four months,” Coffey said.

Commissioners voted to have Christian and Commissioner Jan Barbas comprise the subcommittee.

The board then created a subcommittee to deal with issues related to the Pac Choice and BC Fisheries docks. Martin and Barbas were appointed.

Davis was the sole no vote on both motions, and Gary Klein accused the board of appointing subcommittees to, “hide its actions from the public.”

The subcommittee was formed because the board has a responsibility to make sure all was done properly before closing the contract for construction of the dock, according to Martin and Coffey.

Coffey said, “the port should not wait until the job is done and the contractor is gone and paid to see if there are issues.”

Martin later said progress was being made on the BC Fisheries dock. He noted holes were recently drilled to determine the thickness of the concrete.

Dave Hoover, contractor on the BC Fisheries dock, and Doug Lewis, a manufacturing consultant who does work at the port, both addressed the BC Fisheries dock.

Lewis said the BC Fisheries dock had cosmetic issues and asked commissioners why they hired environmental engineer (Jack Akin) to work with structural issues.

“I am the guy who you all say is doing something wrong,” Hoover said. “You have one of the best engineers in Oregon saying it’s OK. How much money are you all going to waste?”

Attempts to reach Gowers about the core samples or the BC Fisheries dock were unsuccessful.

•Patty Ann Da’Cunha said taxpayers should not move forward with a recall until they have all the facts. She noted enough money had already been wasted at the port.

“Those facts are coming,” Davis said. “I am working diligently to get the public the answers. We have a skeletal staff being overworked and now one is off for a week and another will probably quit. Our staff does not deserve what is happening in this scandalous (expletive deleted).”

Barbas also asked Coffey to clarify whether or not port staff could circulate recall petitions on port property while being paid.

Coffey responded they could do so on port property as it was public, but not while being paid to work.

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