Commissioners oust Port Canaveral CEO Stan Payne

Commissioner Bruce Deardoff resigning from post after school funding issue

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. - Port Chief Executive Officer Stan Payne has been removed from his job, Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports.

Port commissioners on Wednesday voted to remove Payne from office, initially putting him on three months administrative leave.

The port plans to begin a nationwide search for Payne's successor.

"Thank you so much for the honor of letting me do this for nine years," Payne told authority members, adding he would leave Port Canaveral with "pleasant memories."

Port Canaveral Deputy Executive Director John Walsh, in accepting the interim position, declined to elaborate on his new duties.

"It's an awkward day," Walsh said. "I don't think it's a day to make too many comments."

In a memo to fellow commissioners about Payne's job performance, Port Authority Chairman Tom Weinberg cited a port staff turnover rate averaging 25 percent a year, as well as "limited stability in the management team," including 20 staff changes among the port's top 14 positions in the last five years.

Among other concerns Weinberg cited were Payne's handling of issues related to ground transportation and parking, cargo operations, communication with port tenants and the business community, hiring consultants without Port Authority board approval, and lack of a comprehensive business plan for the port's seven-story Welcome Center. The $25.6 million Welcome Center project is scheduled to be completed in August.

Weinberg also questioned circumstances surrounding the negotiation of Payne's employment contract, Payne's severance package and the hiring of outside attorneys that would benefit Payne.

Weinberg's memo did not come up for discussing before the vote.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Bruce Deardoff plans to resign his port post after an issue related to funding help for Brevard schools.

He cited business and family obligations. Deardoff owns a group of auto dealerships.

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