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Monday, August 13, 2007


OP-ED PORT [draft]

I became involved in Port of Seattle matters during the 2005 election as supporter of a candidate whom his firm then forced to withdraw when it prohibited all employees from holding public office. Meanwhile I've made pleasant and more or less thorough acquaintance with the various commissioners and the CEO preceding the ascendancy of Tay Yoshitani; and with the by no means uncomplicated issues facing the port in the world such as it is - ah, yes, "the world such as it is!" As the child of a father who ran a fishing fleet I have always found ports sexy, and I think, perhaps mistakenly, that my take on the Port is benign and not colored by immediate self-interest.

In light of these considerations, I am wondering whether the Seattle Port Commission is still able to do the job for which it was designed. Something certainly is quite puzzling, if not amiss, about the way it is currently set up. Judging by the 100s of thousands invested in the last and current commissioner campaign you would assume these offices to be worth more than 6 k per annum. What is really at stake? Not only does the job pay a pittance, commissioners who take their jobs seriously, lacking support staff or a budget for over- and insight, will - on top of whatever other job they have - spend many many hours at slave labor wages poring over contracts and the like; something only millionaires and the retired can afford - unless civic minded beyond the call of duty. The Port C.E.O., knowing of the comparative ignorance of the commissioners, has little choice but to want them to be compliant. However, under these circumstances the commissioners would seem to be easily beholden to the businesses with interests before the Port, which pour such large sums into these elections; certainly not entirely unselfishly I don't think.

The commissioners only perk are much derided junkets to air and sea port related cities where you can either have a good time or, once again, take your job seriously; that is, you can get yourself a translator and, say, haunt the docks; certainly a good thing to get out of Seattle to get an other than rain-drenched p.o.v.!

Thus I ask myself, ought not the commissioners, when their supporters' contractual interests come before the P.O.S., recuse themselves, as some candidates with multiple interest already promise to do? If the answer is yes, would the commission still be a functioning entity?

But what if it were an appointed commission of specialists in the various areas that the P.O.S. touches, and if such a commission were sufficiently funded and staffed, might it not do a far better job? And work far more cohesively with the executive? That certainly is the case at other Ports that also run their affairs far more efficiently per cargo ton.

The second matter of ethics that I find odd is that the previous Port CEO promised to raise money to defeat the re-election of a sitting commissioner, as in the 2005 election he had campaigned for the re-election of a different commissioner. Ought the Port C.E.O. be permitted political activity; no matter how justified it may seem to him from the point of view of running the port? The commissioners themselves also take action to support or defeat each other. Not the sort of thing that is needed I don't think in this instance. It strikes me as though the commission is about to implode.

Taking a less than Seattle-centric p.o.v., I also feel that a regional or perhaps state-wide perspective ought be taken. The age-old {!} competition between the ports of Tacoma and Seattle makes little sense; together they could draw far better contracts with the big stevedoring and shipping companies. Taking the ports of Everett and Olympia, and the birth place of grunge, Grey's Harbor, into state-wide consideration might even make better sense.

Michael Roloff

[is a writer, the former co-publisher of Urizen Books, former visiting scholar in Germanics at the U.W; and member of the Seattle Psychoanalytic Society


Monday, August 6, 2007


the essential pest to keep its workings honest! Alec, no Lute Fisk, cured in Brine!

Few of you know that I got quite involved in the 2005 Port of Seattle Commission Election. During this for once delightful adventure, I made acquaintance with near everyone at the Port.


One most pleasant surprise was getting to know Alec.
HTTP:// www.alecfisken.com/

He has been the sole stalwart, knowledgeable voice asking for detailed, nitty-gritty transparency in a public agency that conducts its typically Seattleish, nepotistic business practices not only in obscurity, but incompetently, at great waste of resources, with endless boondoggles. -- {Sounds like the Federal Government, doesn't it, the good olde forever SNAFU U.S.A} -- E.g.: The Port has managed to loose money on its "We must have Cruise Ships" venture, looses money on each passenger that is taken straight from the airport to embark on the cruise ships! Now the cruise terminals, at the most accessible part of the waterfront, are going to be converted back to freight and new passenger terminals will be built further north, at the cost of yet another $ 120 Million - at an entity that is 3.1 billion in debt - a foolishness that, to be fair to Mic Dinsmore the Great narcissistically vulnerable Sea Lion, even he opposed, not just Alec!

http://www.munileague.org/cec/ 2007/report/PortComm.htm


Tells us that outgoing C.E.O. Mic Dinsmore promised to raise money to defeat Commissioner Fisken. Just as he raised money to help keep Commissioner Pat ["Foxy Lady"] Davis on the commission during the 2005 P>O>S election. Not only is such an intervention illegal, I meself find it astounding that a C.E.O appointed by the commissioners then injects himself in those races! I hope this backfires good. However, all things being unequal, why don't the activist members of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce who constitute its P.A.C. , the Alki Foundation, and the Port's 8000 pound Orangutan, SSA Marine/ Cerrix Corporation, the one and only major port operator in the entire nation, and then some, really tell us - in the small details at the back of the contract - what their short and long terms interests are in having pliable, entirely underpaid [5 K per annum] and unstaffed commissioners???

Alec's opponent Bryant, a lobbyist for the food exporting industry, with an interesting resume, a die-hard Republican until now, makes me uneasy for his backing from the same forces - the Alki Club [that combine of the original thieves that came ashore there about 150 years ago, is one way of regarding them!] that supports the nepotistic, insider dealing and trading status quo and that has been feeding off the seigneural Mic Dinsmore trough? The fixes are in, not of course as in New York City or Chicago or Ohio or Florida, but still. Whether for some ultimate good? And it might take a Cy Hersh to unravel them, none of the local papers, but none, are doing sufficient investigative work or are willing to fine tune their lenses, unravel the intimacies of the connections. So no wonder, then, at some sweetheart deals being floated so openly.

With the coming this year of, so I hear, sharp Port C.E.O. Tay Yoshitani, a new day may have dawned, no longer "biz as usual," so one hopes. E.g.: The Boeing Field, trail deal negotiated between BSNF, Ron Sims and the Port, by Tay's his predecessor Mic Dinsmore - whom the novelist in me greatly appreciates for his career and color in this city of mallards - has been shelved. A more regional, less parochial approach may be in the offing. To support those objectives, a second term for Alec is essential.

One vote on a five person commission can make a huge difference. What if Jack Jolley had replaced the "Foxy Lady," Pat Davis, at the last election, who came in at 50.5 % in the primary and staid there at the general election. Maybe the electorate was beginning to smell something.

And what a pleasant surprise current Port Commission John Creighton is! A maverick Republican!



http://www.railroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19322&s=4 a7139b36b42524d050cafd1ea54ede1&

and here the link to the Port's 8000 pound Orangutan:
============================== ==============

Regarding the 2nd race for Port Commissioner where Bob Edwards is running for re-selection, I feel equivocally torn between
Geal Tarleton
who has some serious overlap of interest issues.


and Jack Block:

Sitting commissioner Bob Edwards strikes me as a perfectly personable fellow, but then who isn't hereabouts except for meself! He used to be a rubber stump for Mic the Great and, I gather, he now channels County Executive Ron Sims - no doubt an interesting experience if you look at that photo of the two of them http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ABPub/zoom/html/2003747131.html
embracing on a railway track, playing chicken with an oncoming BSNF loc! As to channeling he could do a lot worse. But wouldn't it be better if he had a self of his own to chunnel? Jack Block, JR looks interesting, as does Thom McAnn if only for his position that the ports of Tacoma and Seattle ought to combine and so swing a lot more weight, also when it comes to moving stuff, no original native ever needed, to those insatiable consumers to the east.

The born-agin copy editor in you will indulge my punning?

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