Search for port chief moves quickly

March 24, 1995|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,Sun Staff Writer

Determined to signal stability to the shipping industry, a gubernatorial search committee vowed yesterday to move quickly to find a successor to Maryland Port Administration Director Michael P. Angelos, who resigned recently in the midst of a federal investigation into possible insider stock trading.

"It's very important that we get on with the task as rapidly as possible," said former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley who is co-leader of the 10-member committee of business, management and labor representatives.

The committee, which met for the first time yesterday, plans to begin advertising the $110,000 a year job immediately. A nationwide search is expected to take at least two months.

Already, the MPA has received a number of unsolicited applications, according to Thomas L. Osborne, Maryland's deputy secretary of transportation who is serving as interim executive director of the port.

Emphasizing the need to conduct the search in "utmost secrecy," Mr. Osborne would only say that applications have been submitted from the private and public sectors.

The new director will become the sixth person during the past 10 years to head the state agency that oversees operation of Maryland's five public marine terminals. The high turnover has often been cited by Norfolk, Va., and other major competitors as a sign of instability.

Ms. Bentley said that the events at the MPA -- with the resignation of Mr. Angelos and his deputy director, G. Gregory Russell -- had prompted a "lot of chatter about Baltimore" at the recent spring conference of the American Association of Port Authorities in Washington.

"They're sorry about what happened, but they just emphasized the importance of moving on quickly," she said.

The port's top officials resigned two weeks ago in the midst of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe into the purchase of stock by Mr. Angelos before Baltimore Bancorp's 1994 merger with New Jersey-based First Fidelity Bancorp.

Mr. Russell, who also was a member of the bank's board of directors, wrote Mr. Angelos a check for $50,000 to purchase bank stock, the directors were told.

After the resignations, Gov. Parris N. Glendening said that he hopes to hire a director who would stay for four to eight years. Mr. Osborne predicted yesterday that the port's recent success in gaining cargo would help lure top candidates.

"We're in the best condition as a port that we've ever been while recruiting for a director," Mr. Osborne said. "It's a dynamic, exciting position and a chance to make a difference in the Maryland economy."

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