New resigns from Port commission, cites potential conflicts

The vice president of the Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District resigned from the local port commission Tuesday, citing potential conflicts of interest due to his business affiliations.  Bill New submitted his resignation letter Tuesday morning.  The resignation was effectively immediately.  “As the Port moves deeper into economic development, efforts that I whole-heartedly agree with and support, it is inevitable that conflicts will arise with current and future customers of the Port and New Industries,” New said in a letter to fellow commissioners.  “I feel that it is better to proactively address this before it becomes an issue, and prevent even the appearance of conflict that might taint or detract from the reputation and good works of the port, the commission or individual commissioners.”  Because he is both a business owner and a commissioner, state law bars New from conducting business with a port client or tenant.  With the current challenges facing the south Louisiana economy, “I can’t be walling off customers,” said New, who has been a commissioner for more than four years.  New already is losing one tenant. Delta Steel has announced that it will be vacating the facility next door to New Industries on Railroad Avenue in Morgan City this month.  New leases the plant to Delta Steel. The business is leaving as a result of both the economic recession and impact of the BP oil spill.  While he said he wanted to see through issues the local port is facing — especially the redesignation of Crewboat Cut as the authorized channel to the Gulf of Mexico and finding a solution to the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel’s fluff problem — he said he didn’t want to risk a conflict of interest and harm his business’ or the port’s reputation by staying on the commission.  “I told everybody anything I can do to help, I would be happy to help,” New said. “I just can’t do that as a member of the commission any more.”  Port Executive Director Jerry Hoffpauir said he does not foresee a similar problem with any other commissioners, because no other commissioners own companies.  The local port’s executive director said the vacated seat could be filled as early as September’s meeting, but certainly by October’s meeting.  The St. Mary Parish Council will be responsible for filling the seat with someone from the Port of Morgan City’s district.

Published in Daily Review July 29, 2010


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