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Port Of Seattle CEO On Board Of Shipping Company

Meghan Walker

The Port of Seattle's CEO has taken a board position with a major shipping company. This has some state lawmakers concerned. They say it's a conflict of interest. KUOW's Meghan Walker has more.


Port CEO Tay Yoshitani recently joined the board of Expeditors International, a cargo shipping company. Yoshitani's contract with the port says he's free to serve on the board, as long as he uses his personal time to do so.

A group of lawmakers sent a letter to the Port saying his position with the shipping company could compromise his ability to serve as Port CEO. The lawmakers say they want transparency, accountability. They worry when it comes to business decisions, Yoshitani could be put in the position to choose between the shipping company or the Port, when he's being paid by both.

But the Port insists there's no problem. Port Commissioner Tom Albro says Yoshitani's appointment to the board was fully vetted before he took the position. Albro sent a response to the lawmakers, assuring everything was done by the book.

State Rep. Gerry Pollet was one of a dozen lawmakers who signed the original letter. He responded to Port Commissioner Albro, asking for a full review of the vetting process.

Pollet: "I'd like to see the Port of Seattle show exactly how it reviewed whether or not the appearance of a conflict of interest exists and whether or not we need to tighten those standards."

Tay Yoshitani is one of the nation's highest paid Port CEOs, making $367,000 a year. His role as a board member with the shipping company will earn him an extra $230,000. The Port says the shipping company only deals with cargo shipments, and doesn't deal directly with airports or seaports.

Port Commissioner Tom Albro has not yet responded to Pollet's request.

For KUOW News, I'm Meghan Walker.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

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