News Port Watch
posted by April 28 at 9:45 AMon
After initially pooh-poohing this scandal, The Seattle Times has a big scoop this morning confirming that former Port CEO Mic Dinsmore was slated to get the $340,000 in “severance” pay despite the fact that the Port did not follow proper procedure and vet the issue publicly. Moreover, Dinsmore wasn’t in line for severance pay anyway—he wasn’t laid off, he was retiring.
According to e-mails obtained by the The Seattle Times, it was only, after HR had signed off on the sweetheart deal ($340,000!?!) that it went public and was ixnayed by a vote at the last minute.
Why did HR sign off on the deal? As the PI scooped it last week, Port Commissioner Pat Davis authorized it—signing a memo without the consent of her fellow Commissioners.
Pat Davis’s alibi is problematic on its face. She says her lone signature authorizing the Dinsmore severance is kosher because the deal had been discussed by the Commission in executive session with her fellow Commissioners. And while this morning’s report in the Seattle Times indicates she’s right about that, it also points to a larger problem, a little theory I’ve been Slogging out loud this week: State law says the Commission isn’t allowed to make decisions about compensation in closed door Executive sessions in the first place. In other words, the Port violated state law by authorizing this in Executive session.
I asked the Port’s legal staff about this on Thursday, and they said the sessions were kosher because only “final action” on compensation packages for individuals need to be done in public.
The legal staff is correct about the language, but here’s what I wrote about that yesterday:
I’m not sure it clears Davis. It seems to me a final action had already been taken: Davis signed a memo authorizing the payment to Dinsmore. It only came to light, according to sources at the Port, when an HR person brought it to the attention of the new Port CEO, Tay Yoshitani, before presumably trying to make good on Dinsmore’s “severance.”
Indeed, this morning Seattle Times story confirms this scenario.
I also interviewed Port Commissioner John Creighton about this yesterday. He said: “Whatever happened in Executive session, that memo should have never been signed without a Commission vote in public.”
Some previous Slog coverage on this mess—including the contention that investigating a derelict closed-door Executive session with an investigation slated to be presented in a closed door Executive session is unacceptable: here and here and here.