Port Employees Respond to Port CEO's NRA Email

By Erica C. Barnett June 10, 2010

In response to a records request, the Port of Seattle provided PubliCola with copies of emails sent by Port employees to Port CEO Tay Yoshitani about his controversial email to employees last month. The National Rifle Association-sponsored email included a video Col. Oliver North, best known for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, praising the actions of the troops in Iraq.

The emails, which range from grateful to critical to disbelieving, were split about half in favor and half opposed to Yoshitani's message. I've included a few examples of each below the jump.

With all due respect:

I don’t know who you think works at the Port. In at least one instance – me – it looks like you miscalculated. I find this video not only not inspiring, but deeply offensive.

The video’s misstatements of fact are manifest, beginning with vacuous claims about our troops, who, contrary to the narration, for a major part of our time in Afghanistan and Iraq have been poorly trained, ill equipped and unprepared for the blood bath we’ve subjected them to.

But what can one expect from narrator Oliver North, a lawbreaker, liar under oath, and traitor to both the ideals and the government of our country.

And, indeed, what ought we expect from Wayne LaPierre, for whom the first amendment means no more than wealthy people’s unfettered spending on political stories spun from us-vs.-them ideology without regard for fact, let alone good faith or wisdom.

I have no expectations for these folks, except for their unceasing effort to subjugate the rights of those of us who disagree.

I do, however, expect more from you:

I expect you to keep your personal politics and religious fervor out of our work space.

I expect you to take, and pass, your own ethics courses and, particularly, the offerings on harassment.

I expect you to do everything you can to foster the success of your staff, our team, by emphasizing the good that we can and do accomplish, rather than by emphasizing ideological and political differences wholly irrelevant to our work.

I expect that you will somehow, some way, undo the harm you’ve inflicted: with this video you’ve said clearly how very much you disregard those of us who see an America better for the things we can accomplish with the spirit and wisdom and energy of our people -– all our people -- rather than with the spilled blood of our boys.

You mention as “fabulous” Mr. North’s last story. You forgot to mention that the story, 2003 in Iraq, facing the infamous Republican Guard, was initiated by “the big lie”, Mr. Bush’s unrelenting flogging of “weapons of mass destruction”. One soldier’s act of compassion and heroism is indeed inspiring, but rendered empty because it was so very much unnecessary.

Tay, indeed, with all due respect: Shame on you. I expected better.

I thought long and hard about my reaction to the message below and, after referencing the Code of Conduct concerning my responsibilities under CC-14 “Reporting Concerns of Violations,” I feel it’s imperative that I register a complaint.

I clicked on the link with no warning (other than the easily missed URL acronym “”) that this was actually a fundraising site for the National Rifle Association, considered by many to be the single-most polarizing and largest lobbying group of our generation (claims to “non-partisanship” aside).

Beyond my own opposing views of this organization’s beliefs and my understanding of the use of the organization by the firearms manufacturers as a marketing arm, I’ve been present around random gunfire, and at least one of my coworkers and several people in my personal life have dealt with tragic circumstances involving firearms.

In doing my thinking today, I realized that an overwhelming factor in my deciding to register this complaint is the status and role of the sender being the leader of this organization. If I, at my salary, am expected to meet a certain level of professionalism and ethical conduct, someone with his salary and position should be held to the highest standard (I actually think he would agree). If it truly was an oversight and, had he realized his error, he would have taken it back without question, then the fault lies with someone of his position not having another person review his plan to send such an e-mail out Port-wide.

On top of everything, the unfortunate irony is that many people, once realizing they were at a site they considered offensive, did not watch the video through to the end and certainly were not inspired to the level that was hoped for.

With so many truly non-partisan groups paying deserved honor and respect to those who’ve risked and even given their lives for this country, the sender had an embarrassing wealth of source material to send to Port employees that could have had a much more far-reaching impact than what was probably achieved today.

I am appalled by this message!  The URL for this video was the National Rifle Association.  In the past three years, I have lost two members of my family to gun violence.  I cannot begin to explain the anguish these events have caused my family and our community.  I don’t expect our CEO to be aware of the circumstances in our lives that effect the organizations we support and/or do not support but, I do expect that our own Electronic Systems Policy would be followed by our Executive Office.

I pray for our troops every week in my weekly bible study, prayer meeting, and at church service on Sunday.  I am extremely grateful for their sacrifice and bravery.  I don’t believe Mr. Yoshitani meant to offend anyone but, this was very hurtful to me.

Thank You Tay, for sharing that video with us it really touched me. I come from a long line of veterans stemming back to world war II. Thanks for helping to remind us all of the commitment, bravery and sacrifice and that our sons and daughters, brothers ,sisters, aunts and uncles in the ​armed forces give to all of us by putting themselves in harms way as they serve.

Thank you for the message contained in the video it is quite powerful and pragmatic. However, even after all these years the presenter of the speech I feel has not adequately discussed what originally put him in the public spotlight. Because of this background, it makes it difficult for me to get past the man and listen to the message. Thank you though.
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