Bernard Groseclose Jr. has resigned as president and CEO of the South Carolina State Ports Authority. Groseclose has been under harsh criticism from legislators and local people with a good sense of reason due to the Charleston ports declining ranking among East Coast ports. The last straw was the potential exit of about 20 percent of the port’s shipping business due to labor disputes.

Groseclose will be replaced by board member John F. Hassell as interim president while the search for a permanent replacement begins. The release announcing the exit goes to great pains to avoid discussing Groseclose’s all-but forced exit from power.

“The people of South Carolina owe Bernie Groseclose a debt of gratitude for his service to one of our state’s most important economic development engines,” said SCSPA board Chairman David J. Posek. “During his tenure, the port system became one of the most effective and efficient ports authorities in the world. He has led the Authority through some very turbulent times over the years and the board wishes him the best. I am sure he will succeed in his future endeavors.”

“I am proud of what we have done collectively to create jobs and economic prosperity in South Carolina, and am grateful to the many men and women at the Ports Authority who work so hard to maintain our international reputation,” Groseclose said. “It has been an honor to work with them and serve the people of South Carolina.”

State Senate leader Glenn McConnell didn’t have much good to say about the Ports Authority when he presented his priorities for the coming legislative session.

Finding a way to improve the state’s struggling Ports Authority will also be a priority for McConnell. The authority has watched as other Atlantic ports outpace it in shipping traffic and is set to lose 20 percent of its business if a workable labor agreement can’t be found for shipping giant Maersk. Legislation introduced this year would seek structural changes in the port’s leadership.

“I’ve been disappointed,” McConnell says. “I’d like to see the port focused on what’s good for the state and the economy instead of what’s good for their bottom line.”