Interim port chief named

Broadwater will head MPA while state seeks replacement for White

Deputy director is appointed

Departing leader and boss issue joint statement noting maritime gains

March 05, 2005|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

A veteran administrator at the port of Baltimore was named yesterday to lead it on an interim basis while state officials seek a replacement for the outgoing executive director, who clashed with his boss in the Ehrlich administration.

M. Kathleen Broadwater, deputy executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, will step in after James J. White ends his six-year tenure Friday.

The announcement was made yesterday in a joint statement from White and his boss, Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan. Although the two disagreed privately on port matters, resulting in White's announcement last week that he would leave, the two sought to focus on successes and reassure customers in yesterday's announcement.

"Much has been written recently about our professional relationship over the past two years and the reasons for the transition now under way at the Maryland Port Administration," their statement said.

"The important fact that has been overlooked by so many is that, during this period, both of us have successfully worked together to move the port of Baltimore forward for the good of the MPA, the Baltimore port community and the citizens of Maryland."

Among examples, they noted long-term contracts with the Mercedes division of DaimlerChrysler AG and the paper supplier UPM-Kymmene, two new gantry cranes that doubled the capacity at a terminal handling containerized cargo, new warehouses for forest products and funding for dredging the channel to the port.

They said they "recognize the fact that we have a different approach when dealing with important issues and developing solutions. However, this does not diminish our professional respect for one another."

White's abrupt departure caused alarm among some port businesses and supporters in Annapolis, who felt he had a steady hand at the helm. They recalled a succession of directors in the 1980s and 1990s that appeared to weaken the Baltimore port's ability to compete against other East Coast ports.

Broadwater has served at the port since 1996 and worked for outside port interests previously. A search committee headed by Helen Delich Bentley, a former congresswoman and consultant for the port, is expected to report a list of candidates for the director's job by April 15 to the transportation secretary.

White said he has several job opportunities that he plans to consider over the weekend.

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