FOR the last several years there has been no more vocal critic of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority than The Blade. A big part of our dissatisfaction stemmed from a largely compliant board of directors unwilling to challenge the status quo or demand better performance from one of the region's most important public agencies.
So it is disappointing - though in this case understandable - when a board member who resisted that pattern chooses to leave the board early. David Boston, vice president of Westchester Mortgage Services and Toledo's city manager in the early 1980s, resigned his seat at the start of the new year, with more than two years left in his third term.
His departure is significant in two ways.
First, he served on the board for 10 1/2 years. That made him the senior board member in terms of service, and while many board colleagues came and went, he remained a constant.
Second, and more important than his tenure, was the nature and quality of his contribution to the board and the agency. Mr. Boston was really the first of a new breed of board members truly interested in reforming the port authority.
Often, especially in his early years on the board, he was a lonely voice of dissent as board members routinely supported and rubber-stamped whatever the agency staff put in front of them.
Over time, other board members such as Opie Rollison and Carty Finkbeiner began asking the tough questions, too.
The port authority is still not the agency we believe it could be, but it is closer because people like David Boston were around to push and prod for something better.
Mr. Boston's personal style was one of resolute calm. He didn't make a lot of noise, and perhaps there were times he needed to be a bit more aggressive. But we'll take his kind of service any day over those who see public boards as little more than resume builders.
Accordingly, the Lucas County Board of Commissioners, who control the appointment of somebody to serve out the remainder of Mr. Boston's term through July of 2006, should make sure that his replacement is cut from the same cloth. The work of the port authority is too important to do otherwise.