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Charlotte O'rourke

I miss attending public meetings instead of fighting with a computer link that keeps dropping.

I seriously thought about tuning out this non-transparent board as the discussions aggravated me when I’m normally calm. But, I put in an open record request instead.

What fired me up?

Two main things:

1. The self congratulation for a job well done when the entire financial message appears to be out of touch with reality when others have lost their jobs and the port starts seeking HOT tax and federal funds. The port posted a net income loss of ($741,141) with an ending operating cash flow of $2 million. Compared to over $11 million in profit in 2019. The predicted net income loss for 2020 was ($3.9 million). But what fired me up was that the port TRUSTEES who are over POLICY and the budget never debated what expenses to CUT to make net profit and operating cash better. So what did the staff cut? One of the cuts - the contribution to the defined benefit pension plan. Was that a good call or not? I’ve no clue as to the pension funded ratio (my open record request) but since the port normally contributes $500-600 k each year and it’s frozen I’m assuming it’s needed. Where was the public debate and vote? Is the port just Kicking the can down the road so it can hire more employees, give raises and bonuses and claim great business acumen while others are struggling. If 65% of the business is gone why can’t the port PIVOT and act like a private business by freezing salaries, bonuses, not replacing employees as they attrition out, and NOT creating new jobs? A private business would develop alternative plans and strive to keep current business in case RCI doesn’t sign AGAIN.

2. Elizabeth Beeton decided that TRUSTEES must go through the port director in WRITING to ask questions and could not communicate with staff without permission. What is management afraid staff will say? The port has fired whistle blowers in the past and paid them to sign a non disclosure which is BAD public policy. Beeton indicated that limiting employee access is how it was done at city hall when she was a council member. Isn’t that why Beeton voted to fire not one but TWO city managers?

The board needs to start doing its policy job of creating a vision and that includes what’s important in the budget. The job of the port director is to present options and recommendations .... not take unilateral action on policy.

The recent featured port editorial mentions COMMUNICATION as being a top priority.

Irony. Got to love it.

Jarvis Buckley

Charlotte obviously you are disillusioned, disappointed & disgusted. I’m sure for good reason . My thoughts about Mrs. Beeton is her entire public life she has been the eyes & ears for Island taxpayers & residents. I would be surprised if that has changed. Just my thoughts. Everyday is a good day!

Charlotte O'rourke

Hi Jarvis, you are always the nicest poster. Everyday is a good day. I’ve known Elizabeth Beeton for years. I’ve disagreed with her and agreed with her. I’ve voted for her and not voted for her. She was always a watch dog at the city. As an example she helped defeat allowing the city to spend more than $15,000 without council approval. Ms Beeton is much more lax on the spending and monitoring of public port funds.

I personally was for allowing the city manger to spend up to the state threshold of $50,000. Elizabeth frequently complained that differing council members were treated differently at city hall so I’m confused and disappointed on her current positions of allowing policy violations at the port without a reprimand, and not understanding that allowing the port director to set the communication policy is not a good idea.

As a member of the public that pays port salaries, when I call the open records officer, or other staff members, I expect a return phone call. But the unofficial policy for the past year is EVERYTHING must be in writing. No phone calls. To hear that the policy is the same for Trustees was too much.

My disagreements are with messaging and communications and not specifically against Ms. Beeton herself but the board’s current positions on self congratulation and messaging a good financial year.

When the port lost money in 2020 with a $12 million swing and operating cash flow is due to CUTS of items kicked down the road like pension and dredging, and people don’t have jobs, a little more realism would be appreciated.

Who expects any business with over 60% profit loss to be doing great? But I would have liked to see the board adjust the 2021 budget and wonder if the port COLA and raises were given out?

My Steam is up again Jarvis. LOL.

Lisa Blair

What’s going on at the Port of Galveston? In the midst of a global pandemic and having lost 68% of their revenue when the cruise business shut down, you’d think that the Wharves Board would be very concerned about the future of our port. But it was nothing but happy talk at yesterday’s meeting.

They’re making tons of money!

They’ve got lots of cash!

More than they’ve ever had!

Everyone (including themselves) is doing such a great job!

It’s all good! And don’t try to tell us it’s not!

It’s not always about the bottom line and in the case of a multimillion dollar public utility it’s more importantly about how you got there. There’s lots of ways to shuffle and bring more to the bottom line but they’re not all good, or in the taxpayers best interest, or thinking towards the future. And the one board member who’s willing to jump off the happy train was chastised for being negative! “They don’t need someone to point out the downside to everything”!

Huh? Isn’t that exactly what we need? A board comprised of critical thinkers, analyzing and providing oversight. Not a table full of mind melded

back slappers who have it in for the one guy who dares to dissent.

And speaking of oversight, the board revealed a serious violation of their own financial policies but then barely acknowledged it. Bad debt was written off without approval of the Finance Committee. That policy protects (or it’s supposed to) the Port from internal fraud or theft.

On Thursday’s council workshop agenda Marie Robb and Bill Quiroga have a discussion item regarding procedures for removing members from city boards and committees. Keep an eye on this one. Council already has the ability to remove folks whose actions make them unfit for board service. Are they trying to make things easier to get rid of folks who rock the boat? We need those folks. We know what happens without them.

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