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Remarks by Outgoing Commission President Gael Tarleton

December 11, 2012

As you know, on December 5, the Secretary of State certified the general election results in Washington State, and I am honored to be the state Representative-Elect for the 36th Legislative District. I will take the oath of office on Monday, January 14, 2013. I plan to resign my office of Seattle Port Commissioner on January 31, 2013.

In order to allow the Commission’s work to continue with as little disruption as possible, I have decided to resign the office of Commission President effective immediately. I will continue to serve as a Commissioner, but not as Commission President. In a few moments, Commissioner Creighton, the Commission Vice President, will take over chairing this meeting and will preside as the Commission elects an Interim President to serve out the remainder of my term, which would have ended during the Commission’s first meeting in 2013 on January 8. At that time, in keeping with the Bylaws, the Commission will elect a new President and a full slate of officers (at the January 8 meeting).

So, as I leave office, since this my last opportunity to express some final thoughts, I would like to reflect on the Commission’s accomplishments over the past year. It seems particularly appropriate to do that today, given what we have just done in this Commission meeting. When I was elected Commission President last January, I noted that 2012 was shaping up to be one of those defining moments in Port history. And, indeed, it has been.

First, the Commission launched the Century Agenda with the vision of adding 100,000 jobs through economic growth led by the Port of Seattle in the next 25 years. Throughout the year, Commissioners met with stakeholders, broadened the reach of the Century Agenda at the Chamber’s annual Regional Leadership Conference in October, and developed four Regional Initiatives to work in partnership with business and the community. The Commission approved Century Agenda at the last Commission meeting. I would like to extend a huge personal thank you to Commissioners Albro and Creighton for being the Century Agenda “sherpas” for almost 18 months.

A year ago, I said “open government is here to stay in Washington state” and at this Commission. This year:

  • All Commissioners signed the Commission Transparency Code of Conduct.
  • We retained retired Washington Supreme Court Justice Gerry Alexander and ethics expert LeeAnn Pelham to review the CEO’s decision regarding the board of directors of a private company. Their report was provided to us in open public session on October 23.
  • As announced earlier today, the Commission also retained attorney Russ Perisho as outside counsel to the Commission to review an allegation about Commissioner Creighton and found that nothing was amiss. He has also been retained to investigate an additional allegation about another Commissioner, and that, too, will be addressed in public session.
  • To help us see things from different perspectives, the Commission Bylaws state that four meeting should be held during the year on non-Port property or jointly with another agency. We exceeded this goal this year. We met with the Washington State Transportation Commission and the King County Council, and we also held Commission meetings in Kirkland, Georgetown and Des Moines.
  • Perhaps it is a minor thing, but we moved public testimony up on the agenda in the hopes that more people would be able to testify if they knew their testimony would be at the beginning of the meeting. And we will be reviewing how many people were able to be here during the course of the year so that is something to continue to look at.

On the Business Side:

  • A year ago, I said we will know what the container trade in Puget Sound looks like by the end of the year, and today we do. We voted to approve a container lease with Total Terminals Incorporated ensuring that Hanjin will be here with us on this Working Waterfront for 13 more years. And that’s where the container trade is “gonna be.”
  • Growing tourism is very important to the Puget Sound region and key to one of the Century Agenda strategies to add 100,000 new jobs in 25 years. The Commission provided the Washington Tourism Alliance with a $50,000 grant this year and another $50,000 grant in 2013 to advance that work.
  • To help anchor Seattle’s industrial base, the Commission also approved a grant of $50,000 to the Duwamish Transportation Management Association as Dave Gering just briefed us about, and that is going to translate into closer to $100,000 because of the match with the community.
  • It was a long time in coming, but yesterday the King County Council voted unanimously to purchase a segment of the Eastside Rail Corridor from the Port, bringing to a close five years of working on the Eastside Rail Corridor during my term as a Commissioner.

On the Policy Side:

  • The Commission adopted a motion on February 14 establishing program goals for the re-development of the Airport Concessions Program.
  • Emissions in the Puget Sound Airshed were found to be cleaner by 27% for diesel particulate matter removing 900 metric tons of dirty soot from our air.
  • In response to the State Auditor Office’s recommendation, Commissioner Albro and I, working as a temporary committee, helped review and revise the Port’s credit card and travel policies to clarify a number of troublesome points. All of those policies have been fully revised and implemented.
  • The Commission is posting Commissioners’ expenses on the external website as part of our response to the State Audit.
  • The Commissioners formed a temporary committee of Commissioners Bryant and Holland to re-constitute the Commission’s Ethics Board.
  • Today, the Commission approved an amended Audit Committee Charter and the Internal Audit Department Charter.
  • Commissioners served on a number of policy-making outside boards during the year. Let me mention just three because you have heard all of the other work that these Commissioners have been involved in. Commissioner Albro was named to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Washington Public Ports Association (WPPA); Commissioner Creighton was re-appointed by the Governor to the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board; and Commissioner Bryant is on Puget Sound Partnership’s Ecosystem Coordination Board for WPPA representation.

So it has been quite a year. When we started the year, I didn’t plan to run for the state legislature, but that is what has happened. I want to thank you, Tay, all of your staff. It has been a real privilege to work with you and the team and all of the Port employees during my five years as a Commissioner.

The CEO’s commitment to our veterans has been steadfast. This year, led by Gary Buchanan in Human Resources Department, all of this work resulted in the Port receiving the Freedom Award, the nation’s highest honor for employers who show extraordinary support for those who serve our country.

I also wish to extend my deepest thanks to the Commission office staff (Paul White, Katie Blair, Tom Barnard, Marcela Hernandez and Mary Gin Kennedy) for their dedicated public service on behalf of the people of King County.

Commissioners, I would like to thank all of you (Commissioner Holland, Commissioner Bryant, Commissioner Creighton, Commissioner Albro) for the extraordinary work you do on behalf of the people of King County, frequently with nobody knowing what we are doing, but with every commitment to serving the best interests of this public.

So, we are here to create jobs, advance trade, secure our industrial lands, and protect our environment. Let’s all keep doing our part.