The Vineyard Gazette – Martha’s Vineyard News


State legislation will not be required for a chief operating officer to join the management ranks of the Steamship Authority.

In a unanimous vote on Tuesday morning, boat line governors agreed to create a job description and begin a search to fill the position, four years after it was recommended by an independent management review.

SSA Director Robert Davis, who had resisted the move until recently, likened the position to a chief of staff.

“The priority for the COO would be to partner with the CEO and be ultimately responsible for ensuring that the ship and shore operations teams work together, to maintain operations and business. on schedule,” Davis said.

In addition to directing vessel operations, fleet maintenance and terminal parking, the COO will also be responsible for developing and executing operational strategies, ensuring regulatory compliance and improving communication and efficiency throughout SSA’s operations, among other responsibilities, Davis said.

The governor of the vineyard, James Malkin, had a simpler job description.

“The COO drives the bus,” Mr. Malkin said. “The CEO or GM will tell him which routes he needs to travel, but driving the bus is the COO’s job.”

The governors also said they hoped their vote would bypass a state bill introduced last month by state Rep. Dylan Fernandes and state senator Julian Cyr that would change the state’s enabling legislation. authority to appoint a chief operating officer.

“We need to show lawmakers that we take the COO portion of their proposal very, very seriously,” New Bedford Governor and Board Chair Maura Tierney said of House Bill 4527. , which also provides for term limits on the Board of Governors.

“This is the right place to have this conversation, not on Beacon Hill,” said Falmouth Governor Peter Jeffrey.

“The hope would be that lawmakers will see that this is something that’s being dealt with internally,” Davis said.

The new executive position will add about $350,000 to the boat line’s budget, Davis said.

It will also require a change to the SSA’s Articles of Association, which currently defines the Chief Executive as the Chief Operating Officer.

Tuesday’s vote rewrites this article to redefine the chief executive as chief executive.

Hiring a chief operating officer is one of the few remaining recommendations that SSA governors had yet to act on from a list of 10 compiled in 2018 by management consultants HMS and Glosten, Mr. Davis said.

A director of marine operations, a director of shore operations and a position of health, safety, quality and environment manager have already been added and filled following the HMS report, which was based on an in-depth six-month independent study.

On Tuesday, Davis proposed another new position, which the board approved without discussion: a grants administrator who would report to Treasurer/Comptroller Mark Rozum.

“The priority for the grants administrator would be to apply for state and federal grants and to administer and manage them on an ongoing basis,” Davis said.

“Having someone solely dedicated to this process, in our opinion, would be of great value to the authority.”

Among other business on Tuesday, governors voted to issue a request for proposals to companies interested in providing freight service to the vineyard through a port outside Cape Town.

Based on a pilot New Bedford freight program the SSA engaged in in 2000 and 2001, said boat line attorney Steven Sayers, the RFP leaves open the possibility that a freight contractor can use the SSA reservation system and, if necessary, the limited use of a slip at the Vineyard Haven terminal.

“The key word for me is flexibility,” Sayers said. “Some promoters may not believe they can be successful without using our booking system. . . We provide this type of non-monetary assistance to the service as part of our good faith expectation that it will be successful.

But financially, any freight shipper will have to shoulder its own weight, Mr Sayers said, because the Steamship Authority cannot assume any risk.

“Our financial health and stability is essential for the island and we don’t think we should put it at risk,” he said.

A recent state study assessed freight transport out of Cape Town and concluded that it could be viable, but the study also detailed a number of potential downsides to such a service.

Governors will be tasked with evaluating the proposals, Sayers said, with the goal of awarding a license in October.

Also on Tuesday, the board learned that United Parcel Service had canceled its cargo reservations from Martha’s Vineyard for the upcoming season, as well as those from Nantucket.

It was reported last week that UPS had missed reservation deadlines in Nantucket, much to the dismay of residents.

Although he declined to name the company, Mr Davis said “a major common carrier” had submitted its 2022 booking requests for both routes almost a month after the September 28, 2021 deadline.

“They got their request for the vineyard route, but not necessarily at the times they wanted,” he said.

But the shipper’s reservations in Nantucket are all for its small vehicles, which take up two car spaces, and none for the large trucks that need twice as much space.

To minimize disruption to businesses and private customers in Nantucket, Mr. Davis has requested permission from the board of directors to prioritize the common carrier for waitlists while seeking available space on the existing routes.

“It’s very laborious,” Davis said of this latest task. “We have to look at each trip individually.”

No one with existing reserves will be moved to make room for the shipper’s trucks, he also said.


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