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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bring Back that Blog!

posted by on April 25 at 17:21 PM

I sure wish this blog was still active. Sadly, reform Port Commissioner Alec Fisken, who hasn’t posted on his Port Watch blog for over two months, tells me it took up too much of his time.

Fisken’s blog, while certainly doubling as a campaign tool, was also a first and refreshing dose of transparency at the opaque Port.

Speaking of transparency, or lack thereof… Where’s George Bush and the NSA when you need them?

Let me get this straight: The Port’s independent ethics board, a five-person board with two seats currently vacant, is going to investigate the Pat Davis/Mic Dinsmore matter and report back to a closed executive session of the Commission.

This is nonsense. It is, however, a pretty metaphor: A closed executive session to resolve a matter that stems from closed executive sessions.

Indeed, the whole problem started in executive session (which, by definition, are closed to the public) Ś two executive sessions last year to be exact, where Commissioner Davis says she discussed Dinsmore’s $340,000 “severance” package with her fellow commissioners. Three of her four fellow commissioners, Fisken, Lloyd Hara, and John Creighton, say that never happened. One of them, Bob Edwards, isn’t clear on the matter.

Then, earlier this week, the divided board held another closed executive session to discuss this scandal. Curiously, the divided board emerged for a public meeting yesterday, where they unanimously passed all sorts of stuff: Such as doing an investigation that would report back to a closed executive session. Boy, that’s reassuring.

And why the sudden consensus anyway? Guess, we’ll never know.

Again, executive sessions are closed to the public and commissioners are not allowed to talk about them.

They also voted to void any “severance” package for Dinsmore and to tape all future executive sessions, so that subpoenas can resolve future disagreements like the one currently in play. Those are both good votes, but why and how did they come about? There had been talk that the Commission was going to call for Davis’s resignation. What happened to that? Was it worked out in the executive session? Fisken would only tell me “we didn’t have three people.” When I asked him if the missing vote was Creighton (Hara and Fisken are seen as progressive reformers while Creighton is seen as more of a business as usual conservative), Fisken said coyly: “I don’t recall suddenly.”

As I’ve Slogged previously, the King County Democrats voted last night to call for an investigation into Davis; and GOP good-government activist Chris Clifford filed a recall petition.

What’s the big deal with Davis’s memo granting Dinsmore a “severance” deal?

Well, I put severance in quotation marks because outgoing CEO Dinsmore wasn’t laid off, he retired… and he was already getting a comp package. So he wasn’t entitled to a severance payout.

Furthermore, you have to have a public vote to do something like pay out $340,000 to an outgoing Port CEO. Davis insists that they had a public voteŚlast night. That’s a suspect assertion, though. Dinsmore has been retired for months. Why wasn’t his “severance” approved last year when he got a controversial salary bump, or when he left? Moreover, it’s certainly weird that there was this sudden vote after the Davis memo came to light last week—which only happened after a Port staffer brought it to the attention of the other Commissioners and the new Port CEO Tay Yoshitani.

Questions. Questions. Questions. All to be answered in a closed executive session.

RSS icon Comments


The port commissioners who are "good guys" (Fisken, Hara) should not stand for this. They need to have a deep investigation done, report publicly and answer the question: why shouldn't Davis and Dinsmore be fired, terminated and sanctioned (lose benefits and Dinsmore's other huge pension) for the attempt to give him $340K in unearned benefits.

Posted by john s. mills | April 25, 2007 5:31 PM

Please do keep on this story Josh, excellent analysis.

Posted by N | April 25, 2007 5:32 PM

I wish the Seattle Taco Truck blog was kept up to date.

Posted by elswinger | April 26, 2007 9:10 AM

First, I think referring this to the ethics committee is the right call. Second, the results could well involve personnel issues. I think those are usually discussed in executive session. The personnel issues for example could relate to who brought the item to Mr Yoshitani's attention. There could be retaliation against that person from supporters of Mr Dinsmore. So, to protect them, discussing this in executive session sounds good.

The campaigns of Alec and Bob will be greatly impacted by this: Alec's in a very positive manner, Bob's in a very negative one. I doubt many of the people who have donated to Pat in the past will want to donate to Bob, or to Alec's opponent, because they will be scrutinized much more closely.

Posted by Stuart Jenner | April 26, 2007 9:53 AM

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