Shortly after the Port of Bremerton board of commissioners clarified what a pause in the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) plan will mean, consultant Tim Botkin was fired from his position as the project’s director.
Board President Cheryl Kincer confirmed Monday that port Chief Executive Officer Ken Attebery dismissed Botkin on Friday, a month before his contract was to expire at the end of March.
“(Attebery) terminated (Botkin’s) contract with full support of the board,” Kincer said, explaining that the CEO has the authority to hire and fire contractors such as Botkin, but that Attebery did discuss the action with the commissioners beforehand.
Also on Monday, Botkin confirmed that Attebery gave him the choice of resigning or being fired as SEED director, but he did not want to resign “because there was no reason to.”
Asked whether he was surprised by his dismissal, Botkin said, “I can’t honestly say it was total surprise, though it doesn’t make any sense that it should all end at that specific moment Friday.”
Botkin admitted that an e-mail he sent to SEED supporters last week requesting they speak up for the project most likely played a role in his being let go.
“It was justification for my being fired — absolutely,” he said.
As for what he plans to do next, Botkin declined to give specifics, but said he has “some interesting opportunities” he will be pursuing.
But first, Botkin said the port is requesting information from him regarding SEED, and though being fired does not make for the “easiest transition,” he remains a dedicated supporter of the project.
“I will still offer my ideas, contacts and connections — whatever I can do,” he said. “This is a real opportunity (for Kitsap County), and the biggest opportunity since the Bangor Base, and we’d better take advantage of it quickly.”
Botkin said the day after the “pause” was announced, he had two companies call and ask “what’s the deal here?” He added that there was no need to refer to “due diligence” as a pause, since it now makes those companies “wonder if we’re going to build this.”
Botkin said he hoped the project does continue without him at the helm, though he was the first to bring the concept to the port four years ago.
“SEED doesn’t need me,” he said. “But it certainly has to move on and have something of significance happen in 2008, by way of building things and attracting companies that matter.”
To help that happen, Botkin said he hoped people could begin to see beyond the “green tint” of the project and view it as the solid business opportunity he believes it is.
“That has been the most maddening part of this whole thing — the people that refuse to see the business opportunity here,” he said. “This is the best thing we had going for us, and I hope they’ll take a better look at it. (Kitsap County) has been waiting to evolve and grow and this can really be (what achieves that).”
Calls to Attebery seeking comment Monday were not returned prior to press time.