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1265Port of Oakland Executives in the News

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  • Pacific Merchant Marine Council
    Oct 22, 2012
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      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 12:23 PM
      Subject: Port of Oakland Executives in the News

      Ahoy Members and Friends,
      The Port of Oakland is an economic engine of the region - a $437 million per year operation that drives over 73,000 jobs.
      Here is some headquarters news...
      Heave Ho - takes on new meaning in this case. Comments welcome.
      Heave Ho,


      Monday, October 22, 2012

      Top Story

      Port of Oakland puts Kwon on administrative leave, announces new interim management assignments

      Deborah Ale Flint, Port of Oakland's acting executive director, ordered Director of Maritime James Kwon to return from overseas business travel in China on Friday and placed him on administrative leave with pay, effective immediately.

      It was recently discovered that Kwon spent $4,500 in port funds entertaining shipping executives at a strip club during a conference in Houston in 2008. The finding has led to a broader investigation of the port's use of public funds.

      The board put Executive Director Omar Benjamin on administrative leave with pay effective immediately, according to a statement released on Thursday. No reason for the leave of absence was disclosed.

      Flint also took action on Friday to make a number of management assignments, according to a port statement.

      Deputy Executive Director Jean Banker will take on the additional role of acting director of maritime. Aviation Planning and Development Manager Kristi McKenney will assume the role of acting director of aviation. Associate Aviation Project Manager Hugh Johnson will assume the additional role of acting aviation planning and development manager.

      "I am taking these actions to ensure that our 24/7 operations continue to meet our customers needs," said Flint. "These actions are also critical so that the port can continue being the economic engine of the region that it is. We must remember that we are a $437 million per year operation that drives over 73,000 jobs in this region."

      Port of Oakland executive director suspended amid strip club probe

      KTVU.com and Wires

      OAKLAND, Calif. —

      Port of Oakland officials suspended their executive director amid an investigation into a $4,500 strip club expense racked up by the agency's head of maritime operations.

      The port announced late Thursday following a meeting that commissioners voted unanimously to immediately place executive director Omar Benjamin on "administrative leave" with pay. He was replaced by aviation director Deborah Ale Flint.

      KTVU exposed questionable spending by the port's maritime director James Kwon for paying $4,500 at a strip club and other charges for golf shoes, haircuts and trips to a massage parlor.

      The Port's board president Gilda Gonzalez said the acting director Flint is expected to address Kwon's job status.

      The outside investigation by Arnold and Porter is expected to take several weeks, she added.

      Gonzales said she and others were taken aback and shocked at that expenditure. “But again we have an investigation going on and I think we need to get to the bottom of what transpired in that instance,” she said.       

      Gonzalez admitted that Kwon’s still serving as Maritime Director.  

      The Port's board room was packed Thursday night and Service Employees International Union Local 1021 workers were livid and addressed the port commissioners on the issue.

      Workers held signs showing they were upset about questionable executive spending, while they said the port has insisted on contract concessions.

      The workers shut down the meeting and shouted as the commissioners left the room.

      “We've asked them to clarify their finances and they just wring their hands,” said Courtney Elder, of SEIU Local 1021.                   

      Earl Hamlin, Port of Oakland commissioner, said he was disappointed when he first heard about the expenditures

      “It gives the port a black eye and that doesn't feel good,” Hamlin added.  

      Kwon has been on a business trip to China and has not commented on the burgeoning scandal first reported Monday by KTVU.

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