MARAd Mysteries – Part I
The best thing we can say about the current Maritime Administration (MARAd) leadership is that it provides bloggers with plenty of material. Word went out last week that Rear Admiral Philip Greene would be stepping down from his role as Superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy after little more than a year at the post. The maritime community is perplexed, particularly since sentiment toward his performance has been very positive.
In a speech he gave a few days following his formal resignation Admiral Greene shared with his audience that he was forced to resign against his wishes. He did not go into detail and we have heard no explanation from MARAd or the Department of Transportation. Yesterday, October 18th, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood was scheduled to visit the Merchant Marine Academy.
A number of questions need answering because it is widely known that the student body was enamored with having a Kings Point alumnus as its Superintendent. Alumni and Parents’ Associations were also very pleased with the Admiral’s performance and receptive attitude toward their concerns. Admiral Greene was named the 2011 Alumnus of the Year by the USMMA Alumni Association and Foundation. Even Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that Greene would be the guy to help Kings Point become the crown jewel of the federal service academies. So what happened?
We know the Academy administration has been growing increasingly frustrated with MARAd micromanagement of operations. For instance, MARAd has repeatedly refused to release funds to the school in a timely manner for essential operational requirements and maintenance. MARAd also renders unsolicited, ridiculous legal opinions about how the Academy conducts business, namely refusing to allow the school to sell tickets to its sporting events, a critical source of income for the athletic department. Perhaps the Admiral was not a pushover and called MARAd on these shortcomings.
We know that the maritime industry as a whole is disappointed with MARAd leadership, to put it mildly. We also know that the Deputy Administrator, Orlando Gotay, who had been in charge of overseeing the Academy, abruptly and inexplicably resigned on September 16th. Previous to that resignation Admiral Greene purportedly had advised the DOT that Gotay had been inappropriately fraternizing with midshipmen on campus.
Without knowing more we have no meaningful explanation as to why Admiral Greene was forced to leave except that it is political retribution by Matsuda for getting his Deputy Administrator fired. Greene has fallen victim to petty personal politics by the Maritime Administrator. It is particularly disappointing that Transportation Secretary LaHood would allow this to occur. However, it is common knowledge throughout the industry that Matsuda is the Transportation Secretary’s “boy.” How else could Matsuda, a congressional staffer with no maritime experience whatsoever, win appointment as head of the Maritime Administration?
This is an unfortunate turn of events for Admiral Greene, MARAd, the Merchant Marine Academy, and the maritime industry as a whole. Until we know more, it is difficult to draw any precise conclusions. However, given MARAd’s track record of ineffective and impotent leadership, we can deduce that Admiral Greene’s forced resignation is probably baseless and unnecessary. With so many recent resignations and with Transportation Secretary LaHood set to leave in February, perhaps Administrator Matsuda should consider tendering his resignation as well.