After three years of deficits at the Maryland Port Administration, legislators and other state officials should welcome new port Director Adrian Teel's promise to operate in the black by 1993. But if he is to make good on that promise, he will also need their support in shaping up the port administration and restoring a sense of doing business in a way that makes sense and that repays the taxpayers' investments in the port.
The cutbacks in port staffing Teel announced last week are one part of this strategy. It's never easy to streamline an organization especially when the growth in staffing levels has been due in part to a history of avoiding tough administrative decisions. Teel's frankness about his strategy for bridging the gap between where the port is now and where he wants it to be does not change the hard realities on the waterfront, but it helps to get the message across that there's no more time to waste.
Baltimore's port still faces some daunting obstacles to rebuilding its business -- including a reputation for a fickle (but capable) labor force as well as reservations about the number of surface connections for cargo. Even so, the port still has assets that assure a profitable future. Teel's new get-tough approach offers new hope for turning the port around.