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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Port Watch

posted by on April 28 at 9:45 AM

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.

RSS icon Comments

1

I want real news. Where is the review of The Stooges? The Seattle Times has already posted theirs.

Posted by Luigi Giovanni | April 28, 2007 10:30 AM
2

The Stooges? Iggy Pop's band? 1970?

Posted by Josh Feit | April 28, 2007 10:44 AM
3

You miss a critical point, Josh. It seems pretty clear from Mic's 'notes' (interesting how they surface two weeks after the initial brouhaha), is that Bob Edwards was also "in the know". Pretty definitively. At a minimum, he help sign off on the sweet deal. At a maximum, he misled everyone into thinking the entire commission signed off on the deal. You overlooked that the big news of the big scoop is that Bob Edwards is now completely tied into this ethic's mess - up to his eyeballs.

Posted by Former Port Staff | April 28, 2007 11:47 AM
4

@3,
Didn't miss it. But you're right, didn't hype that point in my post.

It's true, Edwards seems like he's in hot water.

However, I find the fact that the Commission may be violating Open Public Meetings Act rules concerning Executive sessions more explosive.

Posted by Josh Feit | April 28, 2007 12:21 PM
5

Yes, I wonder if there will be lawsuits about the Open Public Meeting Act violations? Or is that subject to a recall? When Edwards / Davis / Miller made an announcement a few years ago about the trolley car / Port deal, where the Port would give land for a trolley maintenance station (apparently aimed at helping Paige in her City Council race), some people pointed out that the Commission had not actually met and authorized this. Essentially Alec and Lawrence Molloy were left out of the loop while the 3 (and apparently plus Mic) made a decision.

So, there are potentially some other instances when OPMA has been violated.

Posted by Stuart Jenner | April 28, 2007 1:26 PM
6

"this morning’s report in the Seattle Times indicates she’s right about that" ... how's that?

Mic's notes say the matters were discussed, but Mic's notes were not made during the executive sessions. They were after-session summaries, which might have easily conflated things that were discussed in session, things that were discussed in the hall, and things he intended to discuss but neglected to actually discuss.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | April 28, 2007 4:12 PM
7

@2

1969, you Stranger lamestain.

Posted by Luigi Giovanni | April 29, 2007 9:58 AM
8

Hey Stranger cob nobbler, while you are worrying about chump change, big Jim Vesely, over at The Seattle Times, gives us the strategic view, the big picture. It takes a person of around Iggy's age to provide that.

To their credit, The Seattle Times reviewed The Stooges and provided perspective on The Port.

Who is Seattle's only newspaper?

Posted by Luigi Giovanni | April 29, 2007 10:21 AM

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