Georgia not doing itself any favors by re-electing Poitevint as chair of the ports authority
By Maria Saporta
Some things just don’t make sense.
Georgia seems determined to stab itself in the back.
On Monday, the Georgia Ports Authority re-elected Alec Poitevint II of Bainbridge to serve a second term as chairman.
That would not be an issue if the Georgia Ports Authority weren’t seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government and the Obama administration to deepen the Savannah port so it can accommodate the mega container ships that will be hitting the seas in 2014.
Georgia has made the deepening of the Savannah port one of its top economic development authorities — some even comparing it to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
But Georgia is not helping its case in Washington by re-electing Poitevint as its chairman.
It just so happens that Poitevint has another major role that is not listed in the Georgia Ports Authority bio. (See the Georgia Ports Authority’s bio of Poitevint below).
Poitevint is chairing the Republican Party’s 2012 political convention in Tampa — the convention with the sole purpose of nominating a candidate to run against President Barack Obama.
One can argue whether its right or wrong, but in the world of politics it is not in Georgia’s best interests to have someone who is trying to un-elect President Obama head an agency that is seeking hundreds of millions of federal dollars.
State officials, including Gov. Nathan Deal, have been fully aware of the Poitevint problem, but they obviously have failed to exert the necessary pressure to permit a smooth transition to a new chair of the Georgia Ports Authority.
If Poitevint really had the best interests of the ports and the state at heart, then he would not have stood for re-election as the GPA’s chair.
Now there are only two actions for Poitevint to redeem the situation. He should resign, explaining that there’s an obvious political conflict of interest and turn the reigns of the authority to the Robert Jepson of Savannah, chairman and CEO of a private investment firm who was elected vice chairman at Monday’s meeting.
Or Pointevint should resign as chair of the Republican Party’s 2012 political convention.
But people who are close observers of the Georgia Ports Authority don’t see Poitevint being able to act in such a selfless manner.
So if Georgia ends up receiving federal funding to deepen the Savannah port, we know it will be in spite of Poitevint and will show that the Obama administration can rise above partisan politics.
But if Georgia loses out on that federal funding, we can blame no one but ourselves.
GPA’s bio of Alec L. Poitevint, II, of Bainbridge:
Poitevint was first appointed to the Board of Directors in July 2007 and previously served as Vice Chairman and Chairman. He is the Chairman and President of Southeastern Minerals, Inc. and its affiliated companies headquartered in Bainbridge. He is Chairman of American Feed Industry Insurance Company and past Chairman of the American Feed Industry Association and National Feed Ingredients Association. He serves as a Director of the Georgia Agribusiness Council and was Federal Commissioner of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) Water Compact. He was a former mission member of the U.S. Agricultural Trade and Development Mission to Europe in 1990 and U.S. Delegate to World Food Summit in 2002.