Port of Corpus Christi Executive Board Members Get Obscene Raises, Bonuses!!
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Today's edition of the Corpus Christi Caller/Times carried a story that can only serve to outrage the people who work hard for a living and struggle in today's economy to keep their jobs, much less feed and clothe their families, on the normal working wages paid here in this city. This story outlined the outrageous, obscene bonuses and pay raises given to some on the executive board of the Port of Corpus Christi.
This arrogant, insensitive action comes on the heels of the naming of former CITGO plant manager Bob Kostelnik as Port Commissioner when he was apparently not in compliance with legal residency requirements, that is being a legal resident, registered to vote in the county for at least six months before he could be appointed.
These episodes smack of the smell of the continuation of "the good ole boy" system wherein the insiders of local industry take care of themselves and their friends at the expense of public interests.
Below is an excerpt from the article:
Port executives get raises, bonuses
The top three executives at the Port of Corpus Christi will get
hearty pay raises after port commissioners narrowly approved pay hikes and bonuses totaling nearly $235,000.
For Executive Director John LaRue, it’s the second raise and bonus this year. His 12.6 percent raise Tuesday brings his base salary to $310,000. He also was awarded a $75,000 bonus.
Frank Brogan, the deputy port director of engineering, finance and administration, and Maynard “Sandy” Sanders, the deputy port director of operations and business development, each received 7 percent raises and $50,000 bonuses.
Port commissioners voted 4-3 to approve La-Rue’s raise, with chairman Ruben Bonilla and Commissioners Kenneth Berry, Francis Gandy and Robert Gonzalez in favor and Commissioners Richard Borchard, Mike Carrell and Judy Hawley against.
While Borchard and Carrell voted against all three raises, Hawley joined the other four commissioners and voted for the two deputy port directors’ raises.
There wasn’t public discussion about the raises, which came after an executive session in which commissioners evaluated job performance.
“I don’t believe in giving raises twice in one year,” Borchard said after the meeting. “The amount of the increase, considering the state of the economy, is not right.”
LaRue received a 7 percent raise and $60,000 bonus in March, but that was based on his 2008 job performance, Berry said. Commissioners conducted his 2009 evaluation in December instead of the spring so that Bonilla, whose term expires in January, could weigh in on the staff’s job performance.
Berry said it was essential to pay port staff well to keep them in Corpus Christi. He pointed out that the Port of Houston recently hired a new director with less experience than LaRue and will pay him $325,000.
“How do you let your employees know they are doing a good job?” he said. “A pat on the back is great, but give them a wage increase and a bonus, and they understand.”
Berry said the port has done well during the poor economy,which should be rewarded.
“It’s not the commissioners out there doing the good work,” he said. “It’s port staff.”
By the numbers:
John LaRue Executive director
Old salary: $275,267
New salary: $310,000
Deputy port director: engineering, finance and administration
Old salary: $180,315
Maynard “Sandy” Sanders
Deputy port director: operations and business development
Old salary: $180,315
Notice the article said there was no public discussion and was enacted by a vote of the commissioners after an "executive session." This is so over the top of any sense of fairness or reality. It clearly demonstrates that this board needs to be reconstituted and stripped of the power to vote themselves such rich compensation which places these commissioners, supposedly public officials, into the ranks of the most wealthy percentile in the country. And this is in addition to the high paying positions they already hold!
The city and county governments, who are responsible for selecting the members of the Port commissioners, needs to step in and put a stop to this and possibly legislation should be enacted in the state legislature to regulate the pay and terms of service of such boards.
There have been many examples in the past when high powered executives performed governmental leadership roles for the sum of one dollar a year. Such a magnanimous gesture is woefully absent from the Port of Corpus Christi.