Henry Aronson Background Check
Anti-Monorail Spokesman's Troubled Past
Indeed, Aronson is no stranger to newspaper headlines. In fact, in late 1988, Aronson had another long run of near-daily front-page headlines. Those headlines were about a scandal at the port commission where Aronson was then-president.
Allegations of a conflict of interest arose in September 1988, when Aronson, also a private lawyer, told port officials he was representing Thomas Dantzler, a developer who owned a 25-acre business park near the Sea-Tac Airport (which the port oversees). The property's value could have substantially increased due to decisions the port commission--with Aronson as president--might have made. Aronson insisted that he did not use his position to get the client.
Other port commissioners were upset, and Aronson quickly dropped the client. The next month, a memo written by Aronson surfaced in the Seattle Times, indicating that he did solicit the client during his term. Aronson stepped down as port commission president a few days later, the other four commissioners called for his full resignation from the board, and the King County prosecutor investigated the case but later declined to file charges.
Other allegations swirled around Aronson during the scandal. He spoke with the head of Stevedoring Services of America, Inc--one of the port's biggest tenants--about doing legal work. He urged privatization of the airport parking garage, allegedly to help his friend Joe Diamond, who owns a parking management company. He reportedly asked his secretary to destroy "embarrassing" items in his Dantzler files (prompting discovery of the damning memo). And just two weeks after the port passed a resolution urging commissioners to avoid airline gifts, Aronson accepted and didn't report a major airline ticket upgrade--he was bumped up to a $3,000 ride on the Concorde.
Aronson denied nearly every allegation. However, the scandals prompted port officials to adopt new ethics standards. Aronson served out his term and did not seek reelection in 1989. Now, years later, the same newspapers that tracked Aronson's suspect moves in 1988 seem to trust him without question--running anti-monorail stories whenever Aronson barks.