Saturday, July 18, 2015

Political Desk: Taking the Ports

Ah, the Port Authority, Seattle's resident hive of scum and villainy. Scandals and impropriety are rare in Seattle, where we bog down in process to the point of no return, but the Port always delivers. Whether it is denying a living wage to the workers at the Airport, encouraging coal and oil trains through the center of town, or pitting our largest domestic airline against our largest oversees carrier in an airport expansion, they will always be there to carry the freight (as it were) for industry over the rest of us.

Most recently, this manifested itself with a secretive set of meetings that allowed the port to let a Shell drilling rig moor here before heading off to despoil deepwater trenches in the search for oil that we don't need (we're exporting it these days, yaknow). The relevant bit of this is not whether a large multinational has the right to go to the ends of the earth to pour exploration dollars literally into a hole in the ground, but rather why all the negotiations happened in secret in a town than is often transparent to the point of immobility.

As a result, having "Port Commissioner" on your resume is sort of like having "President of the Local Chamber of Commerce" on your CV - it actually can count against you, and required further questions. An incumbent already has a foot in the hole.

So let's look at Position 2. The incumbent, Courtney Gregiore, has a lot going against her: She didn't blow the whistle on this chicanery. She is the daughter of a previous governor (always ticking off the politics-as-family-business box for me). And she's named Courtney, which makes me feel really, really old. Like having a minister named Scooter. On the plus side, she normally is a strong environmentalist, and is often a counterbalance to the oil and coal side of the equation.

Annnnnd... her opponents really aren't much opposition. One is a perennial candidate who was amusing when he declared that the answer to our woes is Space, but became much less so when he decided that the answer to our woes is to eliminate the minimum wage. The other, to quote the Seattle Times "is a self-described communist who said he would not support the Port's role as an engine of the capitalist system." (I think that's the Port's main job). His Voter's Guide statement speaks of the importance of electrification.

So yeah, Courtney.

Position 5, on the other hand, is an open position, since Bill Bryant is stepping down to run for governor. Bryant promises to bring the same style of backroom shenanigans to the  Governor's Mansion, so congrats on re-election to governor Inslee. But in his wake, no less than nine candidates are vying for the support. They are (deep breath):

Mark Hennon, Activist, lists himself as an author and computer consultant. His site is still under construction. This is not a good sign.
Herb Krohn, Former conductor and labor lobbyist. who the Seattle Times likes. Promises transparency. Declares himself as pro-business, pro-environment, pro-taxpayer. Pitches as a centrist.
Fred Fellemen - Enviro, whale biologist, supported by The Stranger and a LOT of local politicians. 
Marion Yoshino - Neighborhood activist, whose neighborhood includes the airport. Jobs and environment platform.
Richard Pope - Runs for everything. Does not win, but has been invaluable at digging up problems on the other candidates.
Norman Sigler - Has the best-written website of the group. Has worked for both airlines currently feuding with each other. Running as an outsider.
Daniel Reandeau - I got nothing on this guy. No web site. A linked-in search says there is a Daniel Reandeu who lives in Port Townsend. Port Townsend is a port, right?
Darrell Byran - Co-owner Victoria Clipper, which docks at our port. I've been on it. It's a pretty cool boat.
Ken Rogers -Not Kenny Rogers, sadly. Former Board of Directors, Delta Airlines

Going over the websites (where available) and their statements, I agree with Ms. Yoshino's note that the airport needs better representation among the Port Commissioners, But I also really like Mr. Sigler's website - he mixes personal notes with an ability to handle the complexities of port trade. So for the initial round, I would recommend you consider either Marion Yoshino or Norman Sigler.

Nine candidates? Well, at least I don't have to consider all the Republicans running for President. That's something.

More later,