P.A. Port fires longtime deputy director

Dave Hagiwara, deputy director of the Port of Port Angeles, was fired Monday following an executive session during the regular port commissioners meeting.

The termination was effective immediately and the position won't be filled, according to at least two of the port's three commissioners.

"I feel really, really bad for Dave but I feel that our port is too small to need a deputy executive director. We used to be but we're not now," said Port Commissioner George Schoenfeldt of Port Angeles on Monday afternoon.

"I truly feel that way. I've never done something so hard in my life," he said regarding the termination of the 25-year port employee.

Port Commissioner Jim McEntire of Sequim echoed Schoenfeldt's comments regarding the need for the position.

"It's just a continuation of the port trying to position itself for the future," he said.

"We're heading into a tough budget year, which is not unlike any other government. We've got a substantial financial problem not only next year but the next year and following year too depending on how the economy goes," he said.

"I have to be mindful of the port's cost of doing business and I'm just looking at how we can get the least cost of doing business," McEntire said.

It wasn't a performance issue with Hagiwara, he said.

Both McEntire and Schoenfeldt said the position, which paid more than $100,000, won't be filled.

At a December 2002 Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce luncheon, then Port Commissioner Leonard Beil of Port Angeles proposed appointing a three-person "volunteer committee" to look at whether Hagiwara's job was necessary.

He cited its $100,000 cost in salary and benefits.

The Port of Port Angeles has an annual operating budget of almost $6 million and capital projects of about $8 million.

The port and its tenants were responsible for direct payrolls of $53 million in 2006, which translated into more than 1,700 direct jobs in Clallam County, according to a July 2007 economic impact study.

Hagiwara was the third longtime high-level port employee to be terminated in the past year.

In October 2007, properties manager Pat Deja and planning manager Susan Bauer were fired without notice after arriving at work on Monday morning.

Those moves were described at the time by port director Bob McChesney as a "repositioning of strategic assets."

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