Port of Bellingham director resigns over internal disagreements

Published on Wed, Apr 4, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Port of Bellingham commissioners have accepted the resignation of port director Charlie Sheldon after months of internal bickering.

Commissioners voted 2-1 at the April 3 commissioners meeting to accept Sheldon’s resignation, with commissioner Michael McAuley opposed. The board voted after members of the public spoke in support of Sheldon. The port director had submitted his resignation earlier in the day and was not present at the meeting.

“It was a very active meeting,” commissioner Jim Jorgensen said in a later interview.

Jorgensen declined to elaborate on the reasons for Sheldon’s resignation, citing only issues with the port’s internal staff.
Fellow commissioner Scott Walker had submitted a motion to ask for Sheldon’s resignation at an October 18 commissioner meeting; the motion was rejected 2-1. Sheldon and Walker continued to butt heads over the following months.

Recently Walker had taken Sheldon to task for authorizing a trip  by the port’s aviation director to a conference in the Caribbeanwithout informing the board beforehand.

“I think highly of Charlie,” Jorgensen said. “Everyone appears to be a Charlie friend, but there were some internal issues that were not working out.”

According to the separation agreement approved by the commissioners, Sheldon will stay on the job until April 30 to assist the port in transitioning to a new director. He will also receive five month’s severance pay.

Rob Fix, the port’s chief financial officer and deputy director, will serve as interim executive director. Jorgensen said the commissioners have not even begun to discuss the hiring process for a new director.

Sheldon had worked for the port for roughly 18 months. The separation agreement states Sheldon can revoke his signature on the agreement within seven days of signing it.