James Kwon, Port of Oakland's director of maritime
OAKLAND, Calif. —
A second Port of Oakland official has been suspended in connection with a $4,500 strip club expense.
Acting director Deborah Ale Flint announced Friday that she was immediately placing maritime director James Kwon on paid leave. She also ordered him to return from a business trip in China.
Kwon was reimbursed $4,500 for an outing at Treasures, a Houston strip club, while entertaining about a dozen shipping industry executives in 2008. A receipt submitted said the gathering was held at D. Houston Inc., the name of the strip club's parent company, and that it was a dinner for 12. He has not commented since the expense was made public earlier this week.
The port announced late Thursday following a meeting that commissioners voted unanimously to immediately place executive director Omar Benjamin on "administrative leave" with pay. He was replaced by aviation director Deborah Ale Flint.
The Port's board president Gilda Gonzalez said outside investigation by Arnold and Porter is expected to take several weeks, she added.
Gonzales said Thursday she and others were taken aback and shocked at that expenditure. “But again we have an investigation going on and I think we need to get to the bottom of what transpired in that instance,” she said.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.