Riverbend Marine Service Auction

Friday, August 31, 2012

Seattle Port Commissioners Reverse Course on CEO


At least two of five Port of Seattle commissioners have now publicly reversed course on the port’s position regarding a side job CEO Tay Yoshitani has recently taken, and say he may be asked to resign.

Commission President Gael Tarleton and Commissioner Rob Holland now say they feel that Yoshitani’s acceptance of a position on the board of directors for Seattle-based global logistics company Expeditors Intl. represents a conflict of interest.

In an Aug. 29 interview with the Northwest Cable News channel Tarleton, who’s currently running for a position as a state representative, said she hopes to call a special meeting next week to address the issue, and that she would ask Yoshitani to choose one job or the other.

“This is a time when we have to decide that you can’t hold a job in the public sector and the private sector,” she said.

Holland said that although Yoshitani’s latest contract, which he signed in 2011 and pays him $367,000 annually, allows him to sit on an outside board, it was assumed that the CEO would sit on the boards of charitable organizations, and he didn’t think that Yoshitani would choose to accept a position on the board of a for-profit company.

“We’ve given him a very hefty salary,” Holland said. “A very hefty salary to keep him occupied and interested in the job here.”

He also said that he’d ask Yoshitani to choose between the two positions.

“There are five of us (commissioners), and it only takes three (to pass a majority decision),” Holland said. “I’ll be lobbying the majority of the commission to then begin the process of his removal.”

Yoshitani, who has been the port’s executive director since March 2007, was announced as the newest member of Expeditors’ board of directors Aug. 9. In the role, he stands to earn more than $230,000 in annual compensation (consisting of $30,000 in cash and up to $200,000 in restricted stock options), on top of the nearly $367,000 a year he makes with the port.

His current employment agreement with Seattle expires in June 2014.

On Aug. 24, 13 King County, Washington legislators sent a letter to the port, asking the Port of Seattle Commission to look more closely into various issues raised by Yoshitani’s acceptance of the second job, including conflict of interest.

In the letter, the lawmakers said that Yoshitani being on the board of Expeditors could result in the company’s clientele gaining a competitive advantage over non-Expeditors port customers.

However, in a position taken earlier this week, the port had said that it has carefully looked at the agreement and found that Yoshitani would not be in violation of any port rules or regulations.

Port of Longview Rebounds with Strong 2nd Quarter


The opening of the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview’s Berth 9 is already paying off for the port, and in a big way.

Longview, which lost about $165,000 the first three months of 2012, rebounded to finish the first half of the year with $3 million in net income, thanks in large part to the EGT facility, which opened for business in February.

“It’s certainly the strongest second-quarter performance I’ve seen,” port Executive Director Ken O’Hollaren said Aug. 24. O’Hollaren, who joined the port in 1980, retires at the end of the year.

Exports of grain, imports of calcined coke and imports of new wind energy equipment were the main cargos contributing to the financial resurgence, according to the port.

Since February, EGT has exported 1.3 million tons of wheat, soybeans and corn gluten meal, according to the port. Also, the port handled 2,000 tons of wind energy cargo imports from April to June; in 2011, no wind energy cargo passed through the port.

EGT officials say that at full capacity, the terminal will export between eight and nine million tons of grain annually and generate $5 million to $8 million in shipping revenue for the port. EGT spokesman Matthew Beck has previously said the company expects to load 150 to 200 ships annually bound for Asia.

Up until late January, a prolonged labor dispute was ongoing between EGT and International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21, stemming from the company using the services of a union other than the ILWU at the terminal. The port’s three-member commission ratified a settlement giving the ILWU control over the grain handling union jobs Jan. 27.

EGT is a $200 million joint venture between Bunge Ltd, ITOCHU International and STX Pan Ocean. Berth 9 was the first export grain terminal built in the United States in over 25 years.

Port Trucks Receive Surprise Inspections in Oakland


California Air Resources Board conducted random inspections of drayage trucks moving through the Port of Oakland this week.

CARB inspectors were at the port Aug. 28 through 30 checking trucks, mostly via random selection to ensure they had the proper emission filters and were properly registered.

The inspections were part of the air board’s “Gear Up for Clean Truck Month” campaign, where various agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, team to ensure that rigs are complying with California’s air pollution laws.

“Our goal this month is to do everything in our power to make sure truckers know the rules and that they understand how to comply,” CARB Executive Officer James Goldstene said of the campaign.

CARB spokeswoman Beth White said that although some inspections at the port were random, some rigs were being targeted due to various reasons, such as if they were older models or were emitting black smoke.

Violators could be punished with fines ranging from $300 to $1,800 and include mandatory completion of an air pollution emissions course.

“Focusing on enforcement gives us the chance not only to educate drivers on why the regulations are important but also to ensure that truck owners investing in cleaner equipment are on a level playing field with those who are not playing by the rules,” Goldstene said.

Under CARB rules, all heavy-duty trucks with engines built before 2007 must be fitted with diesel filters that reduce certain kinds of emissions by more than 80 percent.

Port of Olympia Looking to Buy, Sell Land


The Port of Olympia Commission, which reviewed information about the proposed purchase of two downtown Olympia properties at its Aug. 27 meeting, is expected to approve buying the properties at its next business meeting.

The two parcels are adjacent to property the port owns near the downtown farmers market. The purpose of buying the properties would be to provide environmental cleanup of the sites, address parking constraints in the area and allow for future development.

The port commission is expected to approve the purchase at its Sept. 10 meeting.

The properties are currently owned by the State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. Under the plan, the port would keep Parcel 1 at 608 Washington St., which Fish and Wildlife currently uses for truck, trailer and boat storage, and parking.

However the second parcel, located at 516 Washington St. and currently the site of a condemned, earthquake damaged warehouse, would be sold to LOTT Clean Water Alliance.

If the Commission approves the real estate purchase, LOTT and the port would begin environmental assessment of the sites and close on the property in six months, according to port staff.

LOTT has said it wishes to purchase the land in order to increase capacity at its water treatment facility.
The company, port and the City of Olympia approved entering into a Memorandum of Understanding that identified their interest in the Fish and Wildlife properties in November 2011.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Seattle Port Head’s Side Job Raises Concerns


The Seattle Port Authority says it has found no apparent conflict of interest in Port of Seattle Executive Director Tay Yoshitani’s decision to accept a position as a director with logistics company Expeditors Intl.

The Aug. 27 confirmation by the port authority followed an investigation brought on by an Aug. 24 letter signed by 13 King County, Washington legislators asking the Port of Seattle Commission to look more closely into various issues raised by Yoshitani’s acceptance of the second job, including conflict of interest.

In the letter, the lawmakers said that Yoshitani being on the board of Expeditors could result in the company’s clientele gaining a competitive advantage over non-Expeditors port customers.

However the port has said that it has carefully looked at the agreement and found that Yoshitani would not be in violation of any port rules or regulations.

Yoshitani, who has been the port’s executive director since March 2007, was announced as the newest member of the company’s board of directors Aug. 9. In his new role, he stands to earn more than $230,000 in annual compensation, on top of the nearly $367,000 a year he makes with the port.

His current employment agreement with Seattle, which expires in June 2014, has language stating that he can serve on the board of a company or other private entity on his own time as long as the port deems that the board membership doesn’t create a conflict of interest or violate the port’s ethics code.

Port of Astoria Settles Malpractice Suit


The Port of Astoria has reportedly settled a malpractice lawsuit it had filed against one of its former attorneys.

A decision to settle the case was made Aug. 23 by the port, according to the Daily Astorian newspaper.

The litigation had been brought against attorney Heather Reynolds because of Reynolds’ failure to notify former port insurers about petroleum contamination on port property. The lack of disclosure was related to the port attempting to secure insurance.

Multiple former port tenants, including Exxon and Mobil Oil, stored petroleum on port property in the past. Contamination includes an area south of Slip 2, where an underground pipe ruptured, leaking petroleum into the ground.

The port is currently negotiating with the oil companies, insurers and the Department of Environmental Quality on how to clean up the contamination.

The Daily Astorian reports the commission accepted a lawsuit settlement of $50,000, but rather than Reynolds having to pay up, the money would come from the Oregon State Bar’s liability fund.

The port commission is continuing a malpractice case against another of its former attorneys, Mike Lilly, who had specialized in environmental cleanup issues.

“I think it was the prudent thing to do,” one of the port’s lawyers, Thane Tienson, told the newspaper. “We’ll go forward and concentrate our efforts against Mike Lilly. He is the person who was hired expressly for his expertise in environmental law, including environmental insurance.”

Work Begins on New Vancouver USA Rail Project


Work has begun on a rail line at the Port of Vancouver USA that would travel below the BNSF and Union Pacific’s north/south mainline on the Columbia River Rail Bridge.

The configuration along the banks of the river would prevent port-bound rail from blocking the north/south rail line, according to the port, while increasing the efficiency of rail movement into and out of the area.

Early stages of construction include building a watertight trench to support the concrete foundation for trains that will travel into the port, including the expanding rail yard corridor.

The task is the latest in the Port of Vancouver USA’s West Vancouver Freight Access Project, or WFVA, a $137 million effort by the port to create jobs and generate revenue by investing in freight rail infrastructure. The WFVA, which began in 2007, is divided into 20 elements; the rail expansion is known as Project 16.

Among the major elements of the project that have been completed are the June 2010 completion of a unit train facility at Terminal 5; and rail improvements near a city of Vancouver waterfront development in 2008.

Work began on Project 16 this week and is expected to be complete by the end of February, 2013. Work on the full WFVA project is expected to be complete by 2017.

Port of Oakland Receives Development Funding


The Port of Oakland has received a commitment of $242 million in bond funding from the California Transportation Commission for the redevelopment of the former Oakland Army Base.

On a unanimous vote, the commission decided Aug. 22 to approve the port’s plan for the project and allocate the funds.

The Oakland Army Base, or OAB, project involves a transformation of the former base into a trade and logistics center to strengthen the port’s position as a West Coast export gateway on the US West Coast.
“Ultimately, this state-of-the-art facility will enhance rail connections, increase global business opportunities and support thousands of construction jobs,” Port of Oakland Commission President Gilda Gonzales said.

Oakland is the third-busiest seaport in California – after the adjoining ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – and handles 99 percent of all containerized goods moving through Northern California.

“The unanimous vote by the California Transportation Commission approving the plan for the Oakland Army Base Project is a vote of confidence in our vision for the Oakland working waterfront,” Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a prepared statement released by the port.  “I am extremely pleased and thank the CTC. This will create thousands of jobs and ensure Oakland will remain a key global economic engine in the future.”

The CTC decision is just the latest in approved funding for the project. In July, US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and California Gov. Jerry Brown Jr. visited the Port of Oakland to announce $15 million in federal grant funding for the OAB project, which is scheduled to break ground by the end of 2013. Completion is projected for 2015.