CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – The state ports director won reappointment Wednesday despite acknowledging using a racist term that refers to someone of Middle Eastern descent. He apologized for that remark but denied allegations that he hurled other slurs in the workplace.

Geno Marconi agreed to take diversity training and apologized to the Executive Council, which confirmed him unanimously for another five-year term as state ports and harbor director. Gov. John Lynch chose not to veto the decision of the council, a five-member elected body that approves contracts and appointments.

A longshoreman, a union local president and a pay agent for longshoremen accused Marconi of using the Middle Eastern slur in talking about a “Captain A.” in front of his staff and stevedores at the port of Portsmouth.

The men told investigators from the state attorney general’s office that Marconi also referred to Captain A. with other racist slurs, and referred to someone else with slurs aimed at Jews and Asians.

Marconi told an investigator he probably used the Middle Eastern slur but not in reference to Captain A. He did not say in what context he made the remark, and he denied making the other comments.

The investigators questioned the motives of Marconi’s accusers, saying they came forward this spring, shortly before Marconi had been set to be reappointed, even though their allegations date to 2004. The investigators also concluded that Captain A.’s loss of his contract with the port did not result from racial animus on Marconi’s part.

After reviewing the report, the Pease Development Authority, which supervises the port, decided against firing Marconi.

“We feel he’s doing a good job,” authority Chairman Arthur Nickless said. “I think it really comes down to how credible were the complaints, who was making them and why.”

The governor called the derogatory language “offensive and inappropriate” but acceded to the authority’s wishes, spokeswoman Pam Walsh said.



Associated Press writer Beverley Wang in Portsmouth contributed to this report.

AP-ES-09-13-06 2111EDT


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