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McComas Resigns From Ports Board

By Jenny Callison, posted Apr 2, 2014
(Danny McComas)

Danny McComas has stepped down from the N.C. State Ports Authority board.

In a letter Monday to Gov. Pat McCrory, McComas stated that “effective with this communication, I am hereby submitting my resignation as Chairman of the North Carolina State Ports Authority.”

McComas, a former nine-term representative of the 19th district in the N.C. House and owner of Wilmington-based MCO Transport Inc., was appointed chairman of the ports board in August 2012. His term would expire in 2016.

In an interview Tuesday, McComas did not comment on the reason for his resignation from his leadership position as well as from the board, saying only that the ports board now has “a full complement of members” and that, confident in their ability to lead the ports, he is ready to move forward with other aspects of his life.

He also expressed confidence in Paul Cozza, who was named the Ports Authority’s new executive director late last week.

“He’s highly energetic, highly competent and well qualified,” McComas said of the new chief, who was selected as the result of an eight-month international search. State transportation secretary Tony Tata and four members of the ports board interviewed candidates and, last Thursday, presented their top choice to the full board for its approval.

Speaking at a meeting of the N.C. World Trade Council’s Cape Fear chapter in February 2013, Ports Authority board member George Rountree pointed to former Gov. Bev Perdue’s appointment of McComas to lead the Ports Authority board as a positive development for the organization.

“With that appointment there began a change of culture,” Rountree said. “He embarked, along with the board, on a new way of doing business, new initiatives. It was a matter of stepping out of the traces ... Danny, Mike [Lee] and I made it clear to [speaker of the state House] Thom Tillis there are two basic things the Ports Authority needs: money and stability ... We’re looking for collaborative ways to operate for the benefit of North Carolina.

“The culture of Danny McComas recognizes our ability to respond as a business entity should respond to changing circumstances,” he said.

Perdue, however, also transferred the Ports Authority from the state’s Department of Commerce to its Department of Transportation. Following that change, there have been discussions between the board and Tata as to who controls major ports decisions: the DOT secretary or the board. That issue came into particular focus after the firing by McCrory, in January 2013, of then-ports executive Tom Bradshaw without consulting with or notifying the board.

“It is my understanding that the board is to set policy, and the staff is to carry it out,” McComas said in an interview last May.

Rountree, also interviewed in May, said that he had told elected officials that the Ports Authority board should have same kind of authority and responsibility as a board of a private company.

“We also need the ability to hire the chief executive and set his compensation,” Rountree added.

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