Port Manatee searching for new senior exec, official says

skennedy@bradenton.comJuly 20, 2013 

MANATEE -- Port Manatee officials are advertising for a senior-level executive who would serve as the agency's second-in-command, following the firing last month of Deputy Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer Bob Armstrong.

The ads call for a "senior director of finance and special projects."

The successful candidate must be skilled in financial analysis, adept at negotiating contracts, and would serve as a stand-in for Port Executive Director Carlos Buqueras in his absence, the ad states.

The position requires at least 10 years' experience, with it being a plus if the candidate is bilingual, the ad says.

Asked the salary range, Buqueras said Friday it would depend upon the successful applicant's qualifications. Armstrong earned $149,510 annually.

"He or she would have to understand ports, and port finance, and have to have a good understanding of maritime rules and regulations, and how that fits into a port development environment," Buqueras said.

So far, he's received about eight resumes.

The port will continue looking until the position is filled, he said.

Armstrong was fired after questions arose about his ethical conduct and resolution of criminal charges lodged against his son, Robert Benton Armstrong, who turned 25 Friday.

The younger Armstrong, who also was a port employee, was arrested June 11 and charged with 24 counts of burglary, defrauding a pawn shop and dealing in stolen merchandise, some of which included electronics and other items that belonged to the port.

He remains in custody, and has pleaded "not guilty," according to the Manatee sheriff's and the Manatee Clerk of Courts websites.

The port's attorney, Jennifer R. Cowan, of the law firm of Lewis, Longman & Walker, of Bradenton, is conducting an administrative review to see whether the elder Armstrong violated port rules and regulations, but it was not yet complete Friday, officials said.

"The port needs to move forward," said Port Chair Carol Whitmore. "We don't want to stop all the forward momentum our port director has been doing, and the potentially very interested customers. So we just have to keep moving forward."

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.

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