Skills, anyone?

Yesterday, in Oakland provided us with a classic example of the “good ol’ boy” system that prevails in U.S. container terminal operations. The report began with this headline:

“James Kwon to work for 7 months as Port of Oakland consultant,” and goes on as follows:

“Less than a week after the Port of Oakland announced the retirement of its embattled maritime director, KTVU learned that he was still on the payroll. Starting in 2013 James Kwon will work with the port for seven months as a consultant. A port spokesman said Kwon will be a retiree annuitant working to ensure transition of important maritime business relationships.

“Earlier this month, along with former port executive director Omar Benjamin, Kwon agreed to pay back more than $ 5,000 they spent at strip clubs and charged to the Port of Oakland.

“KTVU spoke via Skype with Kellie McElhaney, who teaches business ethics at UC Berkeley, about the wisdom of keeping Kwon on at the port.

“‘Given the egregiousness of the allegations against him and his team, it seems a bit shocking that they would want to continue with what I think is a damaged brand,’ McElhaney said.

“The port announced Kwon’s retirement earlier this month on the same day it released an internal audit and investigation that revealed some of the port’s credit card holders skirted single transaction spending limits. It showed $ 67,000 in questionable gifts that may violate state and federal laws and at least $ 50,000 in unsubstantiated expenses that may expose the port to tax liabilities.

“KTVU has learned Kwon will earn $ 109 per hour, based on his $ 214,000 annual salary as maritime director. Kwon retired with pension benefits, but it’s unclear if he’ll collect a pension while he gets an hourly salary. Typically, the California public employee retirement system doesn’t allow retirees to collect pensions if they continue to work for a public employer; however, there are exceptions. The retiree can’t work more than 960 hours a year. Over Kwon’s seven month stint that would average about 34 hours a week and the retiree must have skills the employer needs.

“McElhaney said the port needs to be more transparent. ‘They need to tell the truth and tell it fast or someone else will tell their truth,’ she said.

“Calls placed to James Kwon were unanswered and unreturned”. –

KTVU forgot to do the math for us. 960 hours x $ 109 per hour = $ 109,640!

How’s that for “pay back”?

[We’re in the wrong business.]