New Fernandina Port leader receives contract, first major task
Image via the Ocean Highway and Port Authority.

fernandina port cranes ohpa
'It’s going to be a lot of fun. Trust me.'

The new Executive Director for the Port of Fernandina’s Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA), David Kaufman, now has a contract to go with the job. It’s a deal for 16 months with two one-year automatic renewals, at $130,000 a year.

The only tweak at Wednesday night’s OHPA meeting was on compensation if the OHPA Commissioners decide to terminate Kaufman at some point, without cause.

If that happens, his pay is capped at 16 weeks, which is more consistent with state law, Port Attorney Patrick Krechowski said.

What constitutes “cause” is defined in the contract.

“It says termination for cause shall mean termination due to employee’s personal dishonesty, incompetence, willful misconduct, gross negligence any breach of fiduciary duty, intentional failure to perform stated duties, willful violation of the law, rule or regulation other than traffic violations and simple offenses, or material breach of any provision in this agreement,” Commissioner Miriam Hill said.

Kaufman also receives a $5,000 expense account, as discussed in the prior OHPA meeting.

“Qualifying business expenses shall include, but not be limited to,” according to the contract, “association memberships, business development and similar such expenses, subject to the approval of the OHPA Board.”

The Board voted unanimously to approve the contract.

“I just want to thank you for your confidence and support, and I look forward to hitting the ground running and get to work,” Kaufman said.

As shown throughout the rest of the meeting, Kaufman has his hands full already.

“I just want to say you have a rough and rugged road to travel,” OHPA Chairman Danny Fullwood said.

Kaufman replied, “It’s going to be a lot of fun. Trust me.”

One of the issues Kaufman needs to dive into is the new Port tariff packet, but issues of communication and document exchanges between OHPA and the port operator, Nassau Terminals, rose again.

“I thought we were going to be able to approve the tariff tonight, but it wasn’t sent to us until about 10 minutes ago, so I’m not going to do that,” Fullwood said. “I’m not even going to look at it.”

At that point in the meeting — nine minutes in — Nassau Terminals CEO Chris Ragucci had just arrived. It’s not usual for Ragucci to be around 10 minutes late for OHPA meetings, and he missed others during an earlier rough period between him and the Commissioners.

“I think what I’ll do, now that we have David on board — David, if you don’t mind, I’ll sit down with you and we’ll go over this, red-line it, and send it out to Commissioners,” Fullwood said. “By next meeting, I think we can approve the tariff.”

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook:


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