Port Issues Icy Response to State Legislators

By Josh Feit August 28, 2012

Last Friday, state Rep. Zack Hudgins (D-11, Tukwila), chair of the government operations and oversight committee, sent a letter to the Port of Seattle, signed by several of his Olympia colleagues, raising concerns about Port CEO Tay Yoshitani's position on the board of shipping company Expeditors International.

The main concern: Yoshitani's board seat at the shipping firm could be a conflict of interest.

The implication: Seattle's Port Commissioners hadn't done their job overseeing Yoshitani.

Today, Port Commissioner Tom Albro, chair of the Port Commission's audit committee, responded to Hudgins with a letter of his own. Saying that everything was done by the book. Albro's response is icy:
Mr. Yoshitani may, on his own time (e.g., after close of business or while on Paid Time-Off), participate as a member of a Board of Directors for a private entity; provided, that prior to accepting such appointment, the Port’s General Counsel determines that CEO’s participation would not create or appear to create a conflict of interest, or is contrary to any other provision of the Port’s Code of Ethics for Employees.” Mr. Yoshitani’s appointment to the board of directors of Expeditors International was reviewed by the port’s general counsel to ensure compliance with the port’s Code of Conduct for employees and for any potential conflict of interest before he joined the board.

The general counsel of Expeditors International has informed us that the appointment was reviewed in accordance with its internal policies and the rules promulgated by the Nasdaq Stock Market and the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding independence and related party transactions.

Albro also reprimands Hudgins and his fellow legislators for stating that Yoshitani  had "dual employment" at the Port and at Expeditors; as a board member, Yoshitani is not an employee at Expeditors.

Albro concludes: "If you have specific information regarding a conflict of interest, please have your legal counsel send us an assessment of that conflict and how the port’s ethics policy or employee code of conduct has been violated."

We have a message out to Hudgins.

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