Traina Agrees to Terms, CCPA Board Member Blasts Drake

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – Penny Traina, who resigned her seat on the board of the Columbiana County Port Authority last November, returned Monday night as its second CEO after signing a one-year employment contract March 9.

The board chose Traina at a special meeting March 3, authorizing Chairman Charles Presley and Vice Chairman Keith Chamberlin to negotiate a contract with her.

Traina agreed to terms that include an annual salary of $95,000 and requires that she work exclusively for the port authority. She also receives health, disability, pension and death benefits covered by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, 15 days of paid vacation per year and accrues one paid sick day per month.

Unlike her predecessor, who received a $750 a month car allowance, Traina will be reimbursed the miles she drives on port authority business at the rate set by the Internal Revenue Service.

“This is not to save money,” Presley emphasized, “just to [reimburse] what the IRS approves. She will file a monthly expense report.”

The board was unhappy with the contracts Traina’s predecessor worked under as reflected in board member’s Brian Kennedy’s remarks after the unanimous vote. “Mr. Drake had to go,” Kennedy stated. “Mr. Drake had to go,” he repeated.

Traina’s predecessor, Tracy Drake, was paid $200,000 a year, a figure Kennedy declared was “two or three times” what he should have been paid to head the Columbiana County Port Authority. “Maybe a port like Cleveland or Baltimore” should pay its chief executive such a sum, “but that isn’t fair market” here.

Drake was CEO of the port authority 22 years. He announced his departure Sept. 1.

Kennedy also assailed “his [Drake’s] nonsynergistic approach” to working with “the rest of the county and county officeholders,” unlike the relationships Traina has established resulting from her tenure as a county commissioner and experience on the port authority.

Kennedy left the meeting before he could be asked to clarify what he meant by Drake’s “nonsynergistic approach” and how he allegedly did not work with elected officials and courthouse staff.

Before Kennedy’s remarks, Presley commented on Traina’s familiarity with the board and the county, noting, “She has no learning curve, practically no learning curve.”

Presley and Diane Ksiazek, who returns to her duties as manager for administration and finance, after serving in addition as interim CEO since Oct. 1, met with reporters afterward.

“Our feeling is that a one-year employment contract is the business approach,” Presley said. “It’s a simple contract. There’s no automatic renewal clause [but] we expect this to be a long-term relationship.”

The chairman praised Ksiazek’s performance in filling both roles, “Diane went to bat for us and did a great job, a great job.”

Ksiazek expressed a measure of relief at having only one hat to wear and noted that she and Traina, who was chief fiscal officer when she resigned, had worked closely together. Moreover, “Penny and I will [continue to] work well together,” she said.

Presley declined to comment on Kennedy’s remarks, emphasizing that Kennedy spoke only for himself.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.