Port of Seattle CEO defends outside employment



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Posted on September 5, 2012 at 4:08 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 5 at 4:13 PM

SEATTLE – Tay Yoshitani believes he’s done nothing wrong.

“I went through the process. The Commissioners approved the contract,” Yoshitani said Wednesday, responding to criticisms of his acceptace of a paid position on the board of Seattle-based Expeditors International, a Fortune 500 global logistics and freight company.

The board position will pay Yoshitani at least $30,000 a year and possibly up to $230,000, including stock options. He currently makes $367,000 a year as the Port’s chief under a contract that runs through 2014.

Yoshitani, in a wide ranging, on-the-record phone interview, said the Port Commissioners knew he was looking for part-time work.

“I’m 66 years old,” said Yoshitani. "I was going to be making a transition from full-time to doing other things. I didn’t want to retire and having nothing to do.  That was the plan."

He noted that the Port Commission approved his contract, which has language allowing him to serve on a private, outside board. “They approved it,” he said.

“It says I can be on a private board as long as there is no conflict.  I looked into it fully.  I felt there is no conflict.  I still believe it,” Yoshitani said.

Thirteen state lawmakers signed a letter last month, asking for a complete review of Yoshitani’s dual employment status, citing conflict of interest concerns. State House Speaker Frank Chopp signed a letter Wednesday echoing those concerns. Port Commissioners Rob Holland and Gael Tarleton, who is running for a State House seat, have called on Yoshitani to resign as Port CEO or resign from Expeditors's board.

But Yoshitani said he doesn’t see it the same way, “I was totally open.  I feel like I haven’t done anything wrong.”

When asked if he would answer the critics calling for his resignation, Yoshitani said he serves the Port Commission.

“I respect their [the critics'] request. They certainly have their opinion, but I report to the full commission," he said. "When the commission responds as a whole, I will take it up then.  Out of respect, I will not cross that bridge until I come to it."

“I stand by my integrity,” said Yoshitani.

The Port Commissioners are expected to take up Yoshitani’s future at a meeting on September 11.