Sunday, May 20, 2018
Business

Jacksonville port CEO selected as top candidate to lead Tampa Port Authority

TAMPA — They want someone who could do more than just run the Port of Tampa.

The Tampa Port Authority's governing board also wants the port's next leader to see the big picture. They want a savvy political operator. They want a CEO with a smartphone full of contacts who could bring in new business.

Jacksonville leaders say A. Paul Anderson is exactly what Tampa wants.

But will it get him?

Anderson, 53, the CEO of the Jacksonville Port Authority, was named the leading candidate to be the Tampa Port Authority's next CEO and executive director by a search committee on Monday. Tampa's governing board could make a decision as soon as today.

His career in short: in the 2000s he was appointed to the Federal Maritime Commission by President George W. Bush; in the 1990s he was a lobbyist for maritime and other companies; and in the 1980s he was a special assistant to former U.S. Sen. Paula Hawkins.

Jim Citrano, the chairman of JaxPort's board of directors, said Anderson's connections are the reason why Jacksonville hired him for its top job 22 months ago.

"That's his stock and trade," Citrano said. "He's a wonderful guy.

"I hope you don't get him."

Salary could be an issue: Anderson makes $320,000 a year at JaxPort, according to the Florida Times-Union. He would be making even more had his proposed raise not stirred recent controversy. In September, he asked the Jacksonville City Council to postpone a 5 percent raise, which would have made his salary $336,000, and a $50,000 bonus.

By comparison, the salary of the CEO he could replace — former Tampa Port Authority director Richard Wainio — made $251,118 when he stepped down Sept. 7.

The Tampa Port Authority's selection committee picked three finalists on Monday. Anderson was No. 1, receiving four first-place votes from the committee of five.

The second-ranked candidate was John V. Keenan, 55, who recently served as the CEO of manufacturer Flux Drive Inc. and is a principal at his own executive coaching firm in Texas, Keenan Coaching and Consulting LLC. He received the other first-place vote.

The third choice was Brian W. Taylor, 53, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the domestic shipper Horizon Lines LLC of Charlotte, N.C.

All three finalists were to meet individually with the port's board of commissioners — private meetings exempt from public records law, the port said.

The board is set to vote at 1:30 p.m. today. The commissioners could select Anderson or one of the other candidates. Then the port staff would begin contract negotiations. Or, if the board isn't satisfied with the candidates, it could restart the search.

Since Tampa hasn't officially offered Anderson a contract, Citrano could not say on Monday whether Jacksonville would attempt a bidding war to keep its CEO.

Under Anderson in 2011, the Port of Jacksonville handled 8.1 million tons of cargo, 189,000 cruise ship passengers and took in $51 million in revenue. It handled 520,142 vehicles last year, the nation's second-busiest vehicle port. In 2011 it led the state with 900,433 cargo containers.

The Port of Tampa, by comparison, handled just under 40,000 containers and made $42 million in operation revenue in 2011. But Tampa also handled more total cargo, 13.7 million tons, and nearly 900,000 cruise passengers.

Cargo containers are a lucrative sector for ports, and the Tampa Port Authority's board wants a well-connected CEO who can grow that side of the business. Tampa needs to attract more cargo containers to compensate for its diminishing share of bulk cargoes like phosphates.

Port Board Chairman William "Hoe" Brown, who served on the search committee, said he ranked Anderson his top choice because of his experience and connections.

"He understands the Florida political world," said Brown, "and he understands Washington, which is all about funding. There is no learning curve there. He's proved that everywhere he's gone. That's why I voted him No. 1."

Anderson has Broward County roots and the Republican Party of Florida figures prominently in his past. His resume says he served as a co-chairman of former Gov. Jeb Bush's election finance committees in 1994, 1998 and 2002. He was also on the Bush-Cheney national finance committee in 2000.

But Anderson's resume also listed Democratic Party organizations and campaigns and said he's raised money for former U.S. senators from both parties, Bob Graham and Connie Mack III.

"He works both sides of the aisle masterfully," said Mike Hightower, vice president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and a former head of the Duval County GOP. Hightower said he's also Anderson's neighbor and friend and was stunned to hear Monday's news.

"I wouldn't say he's active politically," Hightower said. "I would say he's connected politically. Gov. (Rick) Scott knows him well."

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3404.

Comments
Camping without the hassle: New service rents you all the gear you need, plus the car

Camping without the hassle: New service rents you all the gear you need, plus the car

One day in April, I returned from a camping trip - a quick 24 out of the city - and ran a load of laundry. What’s more telling is what I didn’t do.I didn’t hose down a muddy tent, I didn’t soak a shoddily cleaned pot, and I categorically did not empt...
Published: 05/19/18
Romano: Save your money, sports betting won’t be in Florida anytime soon

Romano: Save your money, sports betting won’t be in Florida anytime soon

It is the middle of the day and the beginning of the off-season at Tampa Bay Downs. That means the action is limited to simulcast wagering, and that means the televisions outnumber the bettors.The parimutuel industry is long past its heyday in Americ...
Published: 05/19/18
Son of Crabby Bill’s founder leaves complex legacy of troubled projects and good deeds

Son of Crabby Bill’s founder leaves complex legacy of troubled projects and good deeds

SOUTH PASADENA — Like his father, who founded the Crabby Bill’s seafood restaurant chain, John Loder Sr. had a larger-than-life personality. That was one reason he dived into the real estate business, becoming a well-known, if at times controversial ...
Published: 05/18/18
Updated: 05/19/18
Global Tampa Bay initiative seeks to grow direct foreign investment through expanded regional teamwork

Global Tampa Bay initiative seeks to grow direct foreign investment through expanded regional teamwork

TAMPA — A decade ago, the Great Recession put Hillsborough and Pinellas counties’ efforts to grow their foreign exports on hold.But since then those efforts have returned, gained support and momentum, expanded the range of their ambition and are now ...
Published: 05/18/18
Florida unemployment holds at 3.9 percent, state adds 9,600 jobs

Florida unemployment holds at 3.9 percent, state adds 9,600 jobs

Florida’s economy appears to have plateaued with its unemployment rate holding at 3.9 percent for the seventh straight month, according to the April report released Friday.But some economists say it may be a good thing if the rate doesn’t fall much m...
Published: 05/18/18
Lawsuit over Riverwalk Place tower in downtown Tampa settled

Lawsuit over Riverwalk Place tower in downtown Tampa settled

TAMPA — A lawsuit over the mix of residences and offices in the planned $350 million Riverwalk Place tower has been dropped.Last August, Riverwalk Tower Investment-Intown LLC, which had been expected to be one of the developers in the project, filed ...
Published: 05/18/18
Orlando’s new attractions power jump in theme park attendance

Orlando’s new attractions power jump in theme park attendance

By MIKE SCHNEIDERORLANDO — The arms race to build new theme park attractions in Orlando is paying dividends. A new report released this week shows theme park attendance at the largest parks in North America last year was up 2.3 percent, powered by ne...
Published: 05/18/18
How Mosaic’s relocation could help Tampa International Airport land a flight to Brazil

How Mosaic’s relocation could help Tampa International Airport land a flight to Brazil

Tampa International covets a nonstop flight to São Paulo, Brazil. Mosaic Co, which is moving its headquarters to Hillsborough County, has huge holdings in the country, including several mines. Could Mosaic’s relocation help TIA realize its dream? It ...
Published: 05/18/18
Remember that upscale Guy Harvey RV resort near Tarpon Springs. Forget the Guy Harvey part

Remember that upscale Guy Harvey RV resort near Tarpon Springs. Forget the Guy Harvey part

HOLIDAY — A year ago this month, Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts announced plans for its first-ever RV park, near Tarpon Springs where the Anclote River empties into the Gulf of Mexico.The $35 million resort, named after the popular Jamaican marine artist...
Published: 05/18/18
American Dream Miami to become largest mall in U.S. after final approval

American Dream Miami to become largest mall in U.S. after final approval

MIAMI — A gigantic $4 billion retail and entertainment complex won government approval Thursday after years of debate, greenlighting what promises to be the largest mall in North America, just a few miles from the environmentally sensitive Everglades...
Published: 05/18/18