Thursday, August 26, 2010

Seattle Port CEO Praised for Leadership, Refuses Salary Increase

Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani, one of the nation's highest paid port executives, declined a 4 percent salary raise on Tuesday despite receiving a glowing performance evaluation from port commissioners.

In the evaluation, port commissioners praised Yoshitani's work over the past year and credited his "extraordinary leadership" with helping the port weather the global economic downturn. The port has recorded significant double-digit container volume increases for each month of this year. The performance review also praised various Yoshitani efforts during the last year, including: cutting port expenses in 2009 by more than 11 percent, maintaining the port's strong credit ratings, and the recruitment of three new container shipping lines to the port.

The five-member port commission voted to accept the performance evaluation with four 'yes' votes. Though a separate vote was required to give Yoshitani a raise, Commissioner John Creighton abstained from the vote on accepting the evaluation citing his concern about increasing Yoshitani's salary.

Following the acceptance of the evaluation, port commissioners had been expected to vote on a 2 percent raise and a 2 percent lump sum payment for Yoshitani. Citing the still fragile state of the economy, Yoshitani requested that the vote be pulled – a move agreed to by the port commissioners.

The collective 4 percent raise would have boosted Yoshitani's annual salary to just over $340,000 a year. Yoshitani's last raise, in 2008, boosted his annual salary to $334,000 a year, with additional annual compensation of more than $30,000 a year. When Yoshitani was hired in 2007 at a salary of $325,000, the American Association of Port Authorities found that he was the highest paid port executive in the nation.

Yoshitani currently makes more than both the $167,000-a-year Washington state governor and the $159,000-a-year mayor of Seattle.

By comparison, the executive directors of the nation's two busiest container ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, each boasting more than triple the annual container volume of Seattle, each earn nearly identical annual salaries of about $300,000. As of 2009, Seattle was the eighth busiest container port in the nation.