Richard Wainio, director of the Port of Tampa, faces a performance evaluation that could decide his future at the port. And his critics in the local maritime business want a say in that evaluation.
"There should be a thorough review and examination of his performance," said Dennis Manelli, vice president of Gulf Marine Repair, a shipyard and longtime tenant of the Tampa Port Authority. "It makes sense to get input from people that drive the economic engine."
By Sept. 30, the agency's governing board must evaluate Wainio and decide whether to keep him in the job past March 3, when his current contract expires. Wainio, 61, was hired as port director in 2005 and earns $251,118 a year.
The public can speak at designated times during board meetings. But Manelli said port businesses should get to submit comments that would become part of Wainio's overall evaluation.
Port of Tampa Maritime Industries Association officers discussed what role the group should play in the evaluation but couldn't agree last week, said president Tim Shusta, a Tampa maritime attorney.
"The board should evaluate him in a process that's open to the public, maybe in a workshop format," Shusta said.
In the past, association members objected that the evaluation didn't focus enough on the port's performance, such as tons of cargo, the number of ship calls and cargo containers. The past evaluation form rated him mostly on relationships — with the board, local government entities and port authority personnel. One area focused on business and relations with customers.
Those numbers are driven by the economy and demand for materials in the Tampa Bay region, Wainio said. He blamed a handful of businesses owners who couldn't get preferential treatment from the port authority.
"It's a (public relations) guy, a shipyard guy and their lawyers," he said. "I can find hundreds, if not 1,000 happy customers.''