White resigns as Baltimore port director, industry upset
James J. White resigned Thursday as executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, which oversees the activities of the Baltimore seaport.
Local media reports in the past two weeks had predicted the 12-year veteran of the port administration might leave his post. White, who had served as executive director since 1999, reportedly told Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert Flanagan he’s leaving to pursue other opportunities.
The Baltimore shipping industry blames Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s recent placement of political appointees in the port administration for helping to usher White’s departure. White’s leadership has been praised by both liner carriers and shippers that use for the Port of Baltimore.
According to reports in both the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post Thursday, Capt. E. Lorenzo Di Casagrande, vice president of MSC, wrote in a letter to Baltimore attorney Peter Angelos that recent firings of long-time personnel were done by Ehrlich staff, who didn’t have the “slightest idea” of how the shipping industry works.
The Baltimore Sun reported that Di Casagrande warned in his letter that “under the present circumstances ' we may be in the condition to look to other alternative ports and forget Baltimore.”
Di Casagrande told the Washington Post in a separate interview that Ehrlich’s appointments to port management posts were ill-prepared for the job. “They have no idea how to run a port,” he said.
An executive at John Deere & Co. reportedly warned in an e-mail two weeks ago that the Ehrlich administration’s actions threatened the company’s relations with the port.