By Ashley Fletcher Frampton
Published Oct. 15, 2010
Patriots Point Development Authority board members are considering upping the pay for their executive director position, a change some say is needed to attract a high-caliber candidate to replace Dick Trammell.
Trammell announced in August that he plans to step down from the position at year’s end. He said political appointments after the November elections could change the makeup of the state board and that new members should select their own director.
At a meeting today, board members discussed pushing state officials for a salary higher than the authorized $80,000 to $120,000 range, as well as splitting the duties of the position over two or three executives.
The board also took input from a handful of attendees in what became more of an all-inclusive brainstorming session than a typical board meeting.
More demanding job
Some board members said the top staff job is becoming more demanding as Patriots Point looks to develop roughly 370 acres surrounding Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum to increase revenue.
The board’s attorney, Bill Craver, said that although the executive director salary range is set at $80,000 to $120,000, it is actually $80,000 to $100,000 because state officials, who control the salary and review it every four years, have told Patriots Point it cannot pay beyond the midpoint of the band.
Though this year is not a review year, Board Chairman John Hagerty said officials would seek an increase.
Board member Harry Gregorie said directors of naval ship museums in New York and San Diego earn about $200,000, plus bonuses. And those directors aren’t shepherding a major real estate development, he said.
Gregorie said a fair salary for Patriots Point’s leader would be $200,000.
Hagerty cited S.C. State Ports Authority CEO Jim Newsome as the type of executive the struggling authority needs in order to turn its operations around. Newsome’s salary is $300,000 with merit-based incentives up to $100,000.
Edwin Taylor, who recently was appointed to the board, said that Patriots Point is not the same type of organization as the State Ports Authority.
“We’d get strung up if we brought somebody in and paid them that salary,” he said.
Taylor suggested a salary study to determine the proper compensation for the job.
Studying directors’ salaries at comparable ship museums would be simple, Craver said, but Patriots Point would need to add compensation for the real estate development role.
“It’s the job that those other museum CEOs have, times two, or some factor,” Craver said.
Ideas and input
At the start of today’s meeting, Jim Livingston, a Medal of Honor recipient who lives in Mount Pleasant, was given an opportunity to tell the board his thoughts on its next leader.
Hagerty said Sen. Glenn McConnell, S.C. Senate president pro tem, asked that Livingston be given a chance to address the board.
“First of all, he has to be a CEO,” Livingston said. “This is a business deal.”
Livingston said the director should be able to visit elected leaders in Columbia and Washington, D.C., and make those officials feel confident investing in Patriots Point. The next director must also find a way to bring the museum’s constituent groups together.
He urged the board to search nationally for the right candidate.
Livingston also suggested splitting the executive director role in two — one to handle the ship museums and one to handle real estate development.
Craver said the work might require three executives: a deputy director for each side of operations and a CEO to guide the organization.
Livingston wasn’t the only guest in attendance to weigh in.
Jim Flatley, who served as Patriots Point’s executive director from 1994 to 2001, told board members that no matter how the roles are split or salaries set, the leader of Patriots Point will continue to face challenges from the politics involved in the job.
“S.C. state politics — I’m sorry, I’m not from here — it’s a difficult place to get things done,” he said.
Flatley also suggested that Patriots Point should shift from a state entity to a public-private partnership to raise funds more effectively, and that it should abandon all ships except the USS Yorktown.
Developer Vince Graham, president of the I’On Group and a member of Patriots Point’s master plan consulting team, said no top-quality CEO would take the executive director job as long as there’s no funding in sight for the millions of dollars in backlogged ship repairs.
“The elephant in the room continues to be the cost of deferred maintenance,” Graham said.
Reach Ashley Fletcher Frampton at 843-849-3129.