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Port Everglades chairman fires $26,000-a-year aide

The latest casualty in the new cost-cutting measures at Port Everglades is Chairman Walter Browne's personal aide, who was fired after a consultant said her job is unnecessary.

Deborah Barefoot, paid $26,000 a year as Browne's special assistant, leaves today after three months on the job.

Maryland consultant Booz-Allen & Hamilton said Browne and other commissioners don't need aides, though commissioners Michael Marinelli and Alan Marks still have assistants, and Herb Myers and Joseph DeLillo share one. Only one other U.S. port -- Seattle's -- hires aides for commissioners.

"It's a very difficult decision for me to make," Browne said Wednesday. "It's not fair to her. But on the other hand, with the criticism and negative publicity the port has received for going on the tax roll, the commission has to be accountable."

The port approved a controversial tax -- its first in six years -- last month to raise $23.1 million for expansion. Criticized by taxpayers and their own consultants for excessive spending, commissioners vowed to curtail expenses.

Barefoot said she is "disappointed . . . But it has to be done. There's no hard feelings."

In all, Booz-Allen said the port should cut 53 unnecessary jobs. Director Joel Alesi has since fired one top assistant and eliminated 11 yet-to-be filled positions. More cuts are expected, Alesi said.

DeLillo said Wednesday he is considering terminating the aide he and Myers share. Myers declined to comment. Marks and Marinelli could not be reached for comment.

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