Editorial: Port of Seattle Commissioners Don’t Need a Raise

Seattle Times Editorial Staff, March 5, 2013, Seattle Times

The Port of Seattle does not need to raise the pay of its elected commissioners, let alone raise it sevenfold.

The suggestion to do so comes from Port Commissioner Tom Albro, who owns two businesses, and would not take the money himself. His argument is that people from a much wider spectrum of the community would run for port commissioner if they could afford it. But with compensation of just $6,000 a year, they cannot.

If the port commission were a large general-government body like the state House of Representatives, this would be a persuasive argument. But the Port of Seattle is not a general-purpose government. It does not make laws for everyone. It is a special-purpose industrial landlord. It is more like a big company.

The port commission is its board of directors. There are only five. They run for election countywide and are thereby accountable to the people, but their focus is on the enterprise itself.

Historically, they have been business and labor leaders, lawyers and community activists, none of them attracted by the money.

Overall, this setup has worked well.

With the resignations of Commissioners Rob Holland and Gael Tarleton, the Port of Seattle Commission is down to three members. If finding two new ones to fill the unfinished terms were that difficult, a raise to $42,000 a year might be needed.

But the task is not difficult, and the raise is unnecessary.

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