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Towsley stepping down as Miami port chief

Towsley stepping down as Miami port chief

Port of Miami director Charles Towsley will step down on June 5 and become a consultant.

   Towsley, who has been port director for eight years, said he will remain in South Florida and that he felt it was simply time for a change.

   'I am pleased that the port has accomplished or is near realizing many of my goals for cruise and cargo growth, improved infrastructure, enhanced security and better customer service,' he said in a May 1 statement. 'I look back with pride at the milestones achieved during my eight years at the Port of Miami.'

   Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess told the Miami Herald that there would be a national search for a new director for the county-owned port, and that an interim director would soon be named to manage the port during that process.

   Burgess stressed there were no problems with the county leading to the resignation, commenting, 'It wasn't like there was some blow-up or disagreement. This was his decision. He said he's been thinking about it for awhile. When you have an opportunity, you go for it.'

   Towsley has been a steadying influence at the port since coming to Miami from the Port of Tampa. He replaced longtime director Carmen Lunetta, who retired in 1997 while he was the subject of a federal investigation. He was indicted for allegedly using port-generated funds to benefit himself, friends, and local political officials. The case was dismissed in 1999 when a federal court judge said the activities at the center of the case were done through a private sector company that had been set up, so Lunetta and his co-defendants were not technically using port funds. But the judge also noted there appeared to be ethically questionable activities taking place.

   Commenting on the circumstances at the port when he first arrived, Towsley recalled that 'When I came, there were 12 open audits on the table,' according to the Herald report.

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