Port Commission Increasing Pay from $47/hour to $328/hour

(Also in The Seattle Times)

Today the Seattle Port commissioners will attempt to ram through a pay increase. As was noted by the Seattle Times story published in late February, the plan was announced only two weeks ago by Tom Albro. For those of you who don’t know, the port commission is a legislative body. They are effectively the board of directors for the port. Their job is to make executive decisions on the behalf of the voters, not run the day to day operations of the port. (That job falls to Port CEO Tay Yoshitani.)

How much time does it really take? As a legislative body, the port commission should spend most of their time in public meetings. I reviewed their meeting minutes, and found the total time in 2012 to be around 128 hours. That comes out to under 3 hours a week! (In practice, it is just over 3.5 hours 3 Tuesdays per month.) However, on average, only 4 commissioners are in attendance at any given meeting.

At their current pay rate, the commissioners are making about $47/hour if all they do is attend all the meetings. After the raise, they would be making $328/hour! That is simply outrageous. Even being generous, and assuming the port commissioners work a full day every week of the year (and I’d ask what they are doing with all that extra time), they would be making just over $100/hour (up from $14.42).

The port commission was never intended to be a full time (or even a part time) job. It should, like any good legislative body, be a group of informed citizens making decisions on behalf of their peers.