At a special Friday morning meeting, the Steamship Authority board gave high marks to general manager Robert Davis as part of his annual review, and later, in executive session, bumped his salary from $185,640 to $207,500 as part of a new three-year contract. The new salary amounts to a 11.8 percent increase.
During the review, Barnstable board member Robert Jones and New Bedford board member Moira Tierney were especially gushing in their praise of Davis. Tierney characterized Davis’ “homegrown” skills in crisis management, conflict resolution, and buoying employee morale as “outstanding.”
Tierney gave Davis a 95 out of 100. Jones recalled several notable points in Davis’ tenure at the ferry line, including a number of crises, and said he performed his job well under adversity and kept the books balanced. Jones said perhaps Davis goes home and kicks the kitchen cabinets, but he doesn’t let it show. He gave Davis a 92.
In contrast to Jim Malkin, who suggested Davis needed to delegate more, Nantucket board member Robert Ranney characterized Davis’ hands-on approach as a value-added element that has served his island well. Ranney gave Davis a 96. Malkin wanted to see the SSA, as seen through the lens of the general manager, communicate better. Malkin gave Davis a 90.
The least effusive of the board members was Falmouth member Peter Jeffrey. Jeffrey said while he was “quite impressed” with Davis’ institutional knowledge, he criticized Davis (and the board) for failing to implement a strategic plan four years after the HMS report recommended one. “You take on too much,” Jeffrey said, and suggested a chief operating officer would help the ferry line perform “more strategically.” It took legislation filed by state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, and state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, to get the ball rolling on advertising for a COO. Jeffrey gave Davis an 85.
In brief remarks after the evaluation, Davis attributed the success of the ferry line to the hard work of its employees. After the evaluation, the board went into executive session and then emerged into open session again. Tierney said after “very vigorous” debate, a contract agreement was struck. General counsel Terence Kenneally said the contract includes bonus opportunities for Davis upon satisfactory completion of the Woods Hole terminal, the vessel replacement program, the SSA website, and other “milestones.” The compensation value of the bonuses wasn’t provided. The SSA has a salary range for the general manager’s position and Davis’s salary is at the midrange, SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll later said. In two previous years, Davis declined to take raises, Driscoll said.
Updated with additional information.