KINGSTON — Port of Kingston commissioners moved forward Oct. 28 in their search for a new manager following the resignation of David Malone.
Malone resigned Oct. 23 after the port became embroiled in lawsuits filed by Beth Brewster, owner of Kingston Adventures, and another resident, Tania Issa.
Brewster is suing to overturn the port’s eviction of her business from the marina, and for alleged violations of the Public Records Act. Issa is suing for alleged violations of the Public Records Act.
Brewster and Issa claim the port has acted in a discriminatory manner, and have filed numerous requests for public records in order to prove their claims. However, the port’s alleged failure to respond adequately to those requests have spawned more lawsuits from the two.
The commissioners named Ray Carpenter, the outside supervisor, and Nancy Payne, the port controller and auditor, as co-managers until the port can find a permanent replacement for Malone. Both were given $500-a-month pay increases for the time they act as co-managers.
Carpenter said the port staff is stretched thin because everyone is helping respond to Brewster and Issa’s requests for public records.
“A lot of my guys are spending time doing records requests instead of doing other work,” Carpenter said.
In 2013, the port received four requests for public records. In 2014, after the dispute between the port, Brewster and Issa began, the port received 99 records requests: this year, the port has received 147, of which 52 are still open, according to Payne.
There have been 11 new requests in the past four weeks, she added.
“All the staff’s involved,” Payne said. “Security footage retention, gathering documents, going out to the county for permits and the storage facility to bring down documents. So everybody’s participating.”
The commissioners are looking to contract new employees to ease the workload placed on Carpenter and Payne, who have been unofficially acting as co-managers since Malone’s resignation, as well as performing their regular duties.
The port wants to hire a recruiting service to find a replacement for Malone; a person to help with permitting and contracting covered moorage; and Sanchez, Mitchell, Eastman & Cure law firm to handle all matters pertaining to the port’s lawsuits.
Commissioner Walt Elliott recommended Ed Strickland be named interim manager. Strickland lives in Kingston and owns a marina in Lake Union. He previously served on the North Kitsap School Board.
Carpenter balked at the idea of an interim manager, saying he’d rather wait for a permanent manager.
“He’s going to be coming to us asking us to do the same thing we’re doing now,” Carpenter said.