City of Port Hueneme's rocky road
By The Spotter 02/07/2013
That little peaceful town by the sea — Port Hueneme — manages more than its share of news. And guess what? It’s about to explode in the headlines again.
To review 2012’s tumultuous year; Port Hueneme fired its city manager, who lost a power struggle with the police chief, who later lost a power struggle with the interim city manager (who replaced the guy she got fired) over who got to carry a gun. You can’t make this stuff up.
The interim city manager is the former city manager of a few years back — Dick Velthoen. For the geographically challenged, the city of Port Hueneme is adjacent to the Port of Hueneme. They are separate agencies that, for the most part, coexist peacefully but quite separately. The city officials don’t know how to run a port and the port does not know how to run a city. The peace is kept by a million-dollar payment the port pays to the city every year for wear and tear on the roads caused by the trucks that leave the port.
The amount of money the port pays is determined by an old formula that was negotiated decades ago and is generally renewed with little grumbling. But back in his day at the helm, Velthoen screamed about the payment and claimed it was not enough. He also claimed the port was getting more money at its end but not paying any more to the city. No one was happier than the port when Velthoen retired.
But now that he is back, guess what issue is back on the table? Velthoen wants to revisit the formula for the payment. What’s different this time is the port leadership. While Velthoen has a fairly similar council, the port has new commissioners and a new executive director. Kristin Decas is very capable and well-regarded in the business community for her level head and business skills. Velthoen never played nice with others and is known for his confrontational, blustery manner of negotiation. Stay tuned.
Newspaper reporters are ever thankful for little towns such as Port Hueneme.