The Seattle Times wished in a blustery editorial last weekend that a controversy at the Port of Seattle would die. "This issue needs to go away," the newspaper's board huffed and puffed.
Well, it won't.
Now three of the port's five commissioners have raised questions about what many say looks like a conflict of interest.
Port CEO Tay Yoshitani takes a $367,000 government salary and, under an employment contract approved last year, has recently been taking another check of $230,000 a year for serving on the board of shipping logistics firm Expeditors International.
On August 29, port commissioner Rob Holland said the CEO had to resign from one job or the other. "People see a potential conflict of interest there," said Holland.
Expeditors International and the Port of Seattle both deal with logistics, Holland explained, and that gives Yoshitani privileged information that can be leveraged in the private sector at a premium. "He is working and getting that information as a public employee, so it's kind of like trading on the information [he gets at the port]," Holland said.
Later that afternoon, port commissioner Gael Tarleton followed suit with a similar ultimatum for Yoshitani. "Today I'm asking my fellow commissioners to join me in asking him to choose: Step down from the board or step down from the port," Tarleton said in a statement.
Despite the Seattle Times braying over the Labor Day weekend, port commissioner John Creighton said in his own statement on Tuesday morning that the CEO working two jobs created the "appearance of a conflict" and "I therefore call on my colleagues to support the hiring of outside counsel to review the arrangement."
The port commission plans to take up the issue on September 11. Which is to say: Stay tuned. This issue isn't dying.