Stephen P. Tocco, outgoing Massachusetts secretary of economic affairs, was elected executive director of the Massachusetts Port Authority at yesterday's board of directors meeting in Boston.
The move was expected and cements Gov. William F. Weld's control over the authority.
Since he took office in 199 1, Weld has expressed his desire to wrest control of the authority away from appointees of former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis.
Weld has said that proper management of the airports and seaports in the state will help drive Massachusetts' economic recovery. He has been critical of the way the unions and management have handled the ports.
Over the last two months, Weld has gained control over the Port Authority's board of directors by naming two of the board's seven seats.
In May, former board member Jacqueline Smith, a Democratic appointee, died of cancer and was replaced by longtime Weld ally Kathlene Card.
At the end of June, labor representative Charles Raso's term ended and he was replaced by George Cashman, the president of Teamsters Local #25 in Boston.
With Cashman's appointment, Weld appointees gained a majority of the board, allowing Tocco to oust former executive director Alden Raine.
Raine had 11 months remaining in his term, but accepted the board's decision. The authority is expected to buy out the remaining part of his $94,000-a-year salary.
Since becoming governor, Weld has also nominated Paul Cronin and James Carangelo to the Port Authority board.
Tocco has served as one of the governor's most trusted voices on economic policy since Weld took office in January 1991, according to sources in the statehouse. Tocco has been with Weld since his campaign in 1990.
According to one source involved in Massachusetts finance, Tocco is an aggressive politician who "acts and thinks very aggressively about the business of the state."
Tocco will start work at the authority on Aug. 16. Administrative adviser Stephen Pierce and Gloria Larson, secretary of consumer affairs, have been rumored as possible successors to Tocco as secretary of economic affairs.
The Port Authority has $349 million of uninsured outstanding debt. It is rated AA-minus by Standard & Poor's Corp. and Aa by Moody's Investors Service.