Board fires Canaveral Port Authority CEO

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - There was a major shakeup at the Canaveral Port Authority Wednesday when CEO Stan Payne was voted out of a job.

"It's been my distinct honor to serve Port Canaveral," Payne told the board.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to remove Payne from his post and replace him with interim CEO John Walsh.

"We've really achieved two things today, which I think we needed: a change in leadership, but we have the expertise of Payne in the short-term to finalize some agreements," said Tom Weinberg, Canaveral Port Authority chairman.

Payne is now on administrative leave, but he has 90 days to finalize any pending agreements, including a new six-year, nearly $40 million deal, with Carnival Cruise Lines.

It's a significant contract for Payne and commissioners, who've been critical of him in other areas in recent months.

There were questions about high employee turnover, criticism over a lack of a comprehensive plan for the port's new welcome center and an outcry over a port video that many complained bashed local business owners.

But Payne said he believes he's leaving the port in a better position than he found it.

"The port's doing really well. My parting gift was the Carnival contract," said Payne.

And the board's parting gift to Payne was a 20-week severance package worth about $130,000.

Commissioners said they have started a nationwide search for Payne's replacement.