Controversy surrounds Canaveral Port Authority CEO



BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - The Canaveral Port Authority board is about to take on what is sure to be a heated debate about whether the Port's CEO should stay or go.

At least one Port commissioner said it's time for a new leader at the helm, and the issue will be discussed at Tuesday morning's board meeting.

The vote on Stan Payne's future is just one of the major topics on the agenda. The board is also discussing a plan that would provide $5 million to save Brevard County schools.

"Yes, I am alarmed," said Chairman Tom Weinberg. "I think we need to change leadership."

Weinberg didn't mince words voicing his dissatisfaction with Payne.

"Since his last review, we've had a parade of what I think are very, very problematic issues, including an offsite video that was taken and much money spent, $20,000, $30,000 to bash local businesses as unsafe," said Weinberg.

The video to which Weinberg references is still the source of a pending lawsuit.

But, at least one board member fears the Payne discussion will cloud another issue.

Commissioner Bruce Deardoff is proposing the Port Authority use $5 million in unrestricted funds to head off the closure of three Brevard County schools.

The chairman hasn't said whether he supports the plan.

"We've got a lot to consider about how we can do it financially, whether it's legal and how we communicate without the school board," said Weinberg.

Deardoff believes it is within the Port Authority's powers, but with the Port Authority and Brevard Public Schools having the same attorney, Weinberg said he would like to hear from an independent legal source.

Payne said his energies were focused on tough negotiations with the cruise lines and cargo contracts, adding, "It's a shame that an initiative as important as our schools and second jobs is taking a second seat to this contrived issue."

Weinberg said it's a long-standing issue, saying Payne was approached on March 8 about resigning as CEO.