Tuesday Jolt (or Not): The Port

By Afternoon Jolt September 11, 2012

Today's winner: Seattle Port Commission CEO Tay Yoshitani. 

The Seattle Port Commission voted today to appoint outside counsel to review Yoshitani's dual role as Port CEO and a director at Expeditors International, a company that provides logistics help to international freight shipping firms. State legislators, including house speaker Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43) sounded the alarm on the arrangement, approved in early August, because of the glaring appearance of a conflict of interest, and several port commissioners, including Gael Tarleton and Rob Holland, called for him to step down from either Expeditors or the Port.

Yoshitani makes $367,000 at the Port, and could make another $230,000 at Expeditors. Many opponents of Yoshitani's dual role---the Port Commission has received thousands of emails ---are opposed not so much to the apparent conflict of interest as to the fact that Yoshitani, as a public servant, will be making $600,000 while many Port workers (particularly at SeaTac Airport) earn minimum wage.

Convinced that the deal is inappropriate, they had asked the commission to ban Yoshitani outright from holding both jobs rather than reassessing the appearance of conflict.

Today's second winner: Immigrants in Washington State.

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed announced today that the state will not use a federal Homeland Security database of legal immigrants to check voter lists to confirm that undocumented immigrants are not voting in Washington State.

Reed's reason: Washington, unlike 48 other states, does not require proof of legal residence before issuing a driver's license. Because the database, known as Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, requires that proof, there is no way for the state to access the database. Reed has been pushing the state legislature for years to require driver's license applicants to prove they're in the country legally.

In Florida, Republican officials recently gained the right to use the SAVE program to purge voter rolls, a move that will predominately suppress Latino votes, which lean Democratic.

Rich Stoltz, the executive director of immigrants' rights group OneAmerica, says the decision is "good for the voting system" in Washington State. He says OneAmerica will work during the next legislative session to defeat the driver's license law.
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