Maryland Transportation Secretary O. James Lighthizer says he expects to pick a new port director within three weeks and that management ability rather than experience in the maritime industry is the most important requirement.
"I'm not confining the list [of candidates] to people in the port industry," Mr. Lighthizer said. "You don't have to be able to run a crane to supervise the guy who supervises the guy who operates the crane," he said.
Mr. Lighthizer is looking for a replacement for Brendan W. "Bud" O'Malley, the executive director of the Maryland Port Administration who announced last month that he would step down. Two weeks ago Mr. Lighthizer established a temporary office at MPA's World Trade Center headquarters in the Inner Harbor. He intends to run the MPA himself until a successor to Mr. O'Malley is in place.
"The governor has asked me to essentially make the MPA more responsive to its customers. I'm committed to making changes to accomplish that aim," Mr. Lighthizer said.
He has said that he intends to learn as much as he can about the workings of the MPA, including the strengths and weaknesses of its key managers. But he said he does not intend to personally conduct a housecleaning.
Mr. Lighthizer said responsibility for choosing a new team will be left in the hands of the new director.
Mr. Lighthizer clearly has the backing of Gov. William Donald Schaefer. "The whole administrative structure of the port needs to be shaken up," Mr. Schaefer said last week after a luncheon honoring port businessman Edwin F. Hale Sr. "I'm pleased with that," he said of the changes he expects Mr. Lighthizer to oversee at the port agency.
When the port director's post was last vacant two years ago, the Maryland Port Commission conducted a nationwide search that resulted in the selection of Mr. O'Malley. Mr. Lighthizer has said no such search will be conducted this time.
Instead, he has been soliciting the names of possible candidates through an informal "networking" approach. He expects to interview candidates through at least next week.
He hopes to find someone who will be able to create a stable environment at the port agency, which is about to get its third director in 2 1/2 years.