Port Authority CEO Bland finalist for Florida job

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Port Authority chief executive officer Steve Bland is one of three finalists for a job in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Florida Times-Union reported on its website today that the Jacksonville Transportation Authority has three finalists for its executive director position. The others are from Charlotte, N.C., and Riverside County, Calif.

Mr. Bland issued a statement saying he loves the Pittsburgh area and that he and his family "have no immediate plans to leave."

"I did not initially apply for the Jacksonville position. I was approached to see if I would consider submitting my qualifications to the board of directors as a potential finalist for consideration. I ultimately agreed to do so. I have not visited Jacksonville nor had any further conversations with members of their Board or community leadership since that time," he said.

"I am very proud of our team at Port Authority and pleased with the tremendous strides we've made here. By the same token, I by no means consider my job 'finished.' We have a lot yet to do to make Port Authority the organization that the Pittsburgh and Allegheny County region needs and deserves," he said.

There has been speculation that Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald would seek to replace Mr. Bland after Mr. Fitzgerald was openly critical of the transit agency's performance in May. A weekend staffing shortage caused missed trips and long delays for Light Rail Transit riders attending Downtown events, and Mr. Fitzgerald threatened "top to bottom" changes if things didn't improve.

"This problem is going to get solved," Mr. Fitzgerald said at the time. "If it can't get solved by the people who are here, we'll find people who can solve it."

Mr. Fitzgerald's spokeswoman, Amie Downs, said this week that he does not comment on personnel issues.

Mr. Bland has served as Port Authority CEO since June 2006 and signed a new contract last year that runs to June 2014. His salary is $185,000.

The departing head of the Jacksonville authority is paid $287,000. The Times-Union reported that the agency wants to hire an executive director by the end of September.

breaking - region - Transportation

Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868.


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