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Pease Development Authority disciplines ports director.

After what the new head of the Pease Development Authority called a thorough investigation, the agency has announced it is taking disciplinary action against Ports Director Geno Marconi.

Marconi was accused of using racial epithets in referring to a man seeking to do business with the ports, misuse of e-mails and his failure to implement and enforce employee policies "which would prevent the appearance of impropriety."

The PDA board--which oversees the Port of New Hampshire's operations--announced Oct. 20 it is cutting Marconi's salary by $5,000, and he will not be eligible for a raise for at least a year.

Marconi also will be required to report monthly to Dick Green, the development authority's executive director, to ensure all port employees are following management policies. Marconi also will be required to undergo quarterly performance reviews.

Green said the board "made sure they investigated the charges thoroughly; they have assessed the seriousness of the charges. They feel that this penalty and this discipline is appropriate for the actions that were taken."

Marconi, who will see his annual salary drop from $74,000 to $69,000, was recently reappointed as ports director by the state Executive Council.

Marconi was accused just prior to his reappointment of using ethnic slurs in talking about Capt. Fiaz Arain, a businessman of Middle Eastern descent who was trying to start a container shipping operation at the state-owned port. The language was not used to Arain's face, but others reported hearing Marconi use the slurs around other workers.

The allegations triggered an investigation by the state attorney general's office. Investigators there also uncovered evidence that port property had been misused in the past. Their report concluded that port policies needed to be clearer.

The board previously mandated diversity and sensitivity training for all staff at the Division of Ports and Harbors, which the development authority oversees. Green said 14 employees were to attend a four-hour session on Oct. 28, and future sessions could be added.

In its announcement, the board also said that Marconi has been instrumental in furthering port goals and initiatives.

"The Pease Development Authority Board's ultimate action recognized both the many positive contributions of Marconi to the Division's operations over the past several years and the recent controversy," a board statement said.

Reportedly represented by counsel, Marconi waived his right to contest the disciplinary action, according to the PDA statement.

Green said he had no comment beyond what was cited in the published statement because "it is a personnel matter."

Marconi has said he will accept the disciplinary action and agreed to let the board release information about it.

Marconi told Foster's Daily Democrat he believes it is important to keep the public informed of port affairs.

"I think the professional thing to do is admit the shortcomings and to work very hard to improve on that," he said.

Green also said the board will continue to investigate other complaints involving port employees. Some employees are accused of using state-owned computers to exchange inappropriate e-mails with racial, religious and homophobic jokes, as well as inappropriate pictures.

Ports Director Geno Marconi's salary will be cut by $5,000 and he will be required to undergo quarterly performance reviews as a result of the Pease Development Authority's investigation into accusations that Marconi used racial slurs to refer to a man seeking to do business with the ports.
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Title Annotation:Geno Marconi
Publication:New Hampshire Business Review
Geographic Code:1U1NH
Date:Oct 27, 2006
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