Times Disses Labor in Port Endorsements

It was a split decision today in the Seattle Times endorsements for Port of Seattle commissioner, with the editorial board coming out for the best qualified candidate in one race, and in total union-bashing mode in another.

On the bright side, the Times endorsed Rob Holland, an all around stand up guy and former 37 LD Dems chair, who deals with port issues for a living, over David Doud, a Bellevue real estate broker… despite the obvious drawback of Holland’s labor connections.

For Position 3, our choice is Holland, who is labor-backed but not representing exclusively a labor interest. Holland lives in Seattle and is a great-nephew of former Seattle City Councilman Sam Smith. He works at Seaport Energy in the fleet-fuel business, and knows the Port as a customer. Holland stresses that the Port’s mission is “to support trade, and maritime and industrial jobs” and says he would work to keep Seattle competitive.

Yeah, Holland is “labor-backed” but as the Times painstakingly points out, not “exclusively,” which I guess is their way of justifying going for the guy with the knowledge and credentials over the one who just views the Port as a taxpayer financed real estate development firm.

“Holland’s view is more suited to a public enterprise,” the Times grudgingly admits. How civic-minded of them.

But in endorsing Tom Albro for Position 4, the Times editors just simply couldn’t hold back their anti-union bias:

For Position 4, our choice is the business-backed candidate, Albro. He is an entrepreneur who runs the company that operates the Seattle Monorail. He has also been a civic volunteer, serving as chairman of the Municipal League from 2000 to 2002. Like Holland, he is for preserving industrial and maritime land uses.

So is his opponent, Max Vekich, who was once a Democratic representative in Olympia. Vekich was a solid labor vote, and is now a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Vekich knows the waterfront, but his close identification with organized labor makes him a risk for this post.

Hear that? Like Holland, Albro is for preserving industrial and maritime land uses… though unlike Holland, he has no actual professional experience as to what these industrial and maritime land uses might be. I mean, he runs the Seattle Monorail, which, whatever its potential might have been, is little more than a glorified amusement park ride.

Vekich on the other hand, he not only shares Holland’s passion for preserving the Port as, you know, a port, he also shares Holland’s firsthand experience of the daily grind along a working waterfront. The Times even admits this, but dismisses his superior qualifications because “his close identification with organized labor makes him a risk for this post.”

Huh? Vekich’s close identification with organized labor makes him a risk of what…? On the Waterfront style mob violence and corruption? If not for Vekich and his union connections, Terry Malloy coulda been a contender?

I mean seriously, if the Times is worried about corruption and mismanagement at the Port, they should be more concerned with Albro, a self-financed candidate whose political base was apparently inherited from the disgraced Pat Davis/Mic Dinsmore regime. Meanwhile, Vekich is running as part of a well publicized reformist slate with Holland and respected incumbent John Creighton, while Albro is essentially running as part of a secret slate with the similarly unqualified and business-as-usual-backed Doud.

So I guess my question for the Times is, if not for his membership in the ILWU, would the clearly more qualified Vekich have been a less “risky” choice? And if Holland had been in the employ of a dreaded union, would your endorsement have gone to the less qualified Doud? Are you really making the argument that a “close identification with organized labor” should disqualify one from public office, while a close identification with the developers and shippers who have profited most from the Port of Seattle’s documented mismanagement and corruption (and who have largely financed the Albro/Doud campaign) is a feather in a candidate’s cap?

Huh. Considering the Times’ longstanding and unwavering support for the disgraced Davis, perhaps it is Holland, not Vekich, who has the most to lose from today’s endorsements?


  1. 2

    Commentator spews:

    Expecting consistency and logic from the Times editorial board is like expecting ice cubes left outside to stay frozen.

    It is as unlikely as a thank you to Alec Fisken, Lawrence Molloy, Jack Jolley and others who have stared down Miccy D and his cronies.

    It is as unlikely as the Times to say to the legislature “we need education funding, please cancel our B and O tax break”

  2. 3

    Leaward spews:

    Good points, Goldy. Over at Publicola they are talking about a leaked email from Albro’s campaign that trashes the Teamsters all while Albro is claiming to be a Teamster on his voter’s pamphlet and You Tube video…

  3. 4

    Foodforthought spews:

    Generally speaking, I think that it’s inherently wrong to go the “good guy, bad guy” route. Sure, Max Vekich has his strong points – he’s experienced, has labor affiliation, and seems to be a fairly stand up guy. And Tom Albro ain’t the spawn of satan either – he chaired the Municipal League and regional transpo studies, and has been a member of the Sierra Club for over a decade. Personalities-wise, it seems King County isn’t going to get screwed here.

    In the midst of all this vague-ry, there is one thing that seems to be an area of moral clarity, or something that outright bothers me. The Port Reform PAC is fine, they’re interested citizens, interested unions who have an agenda (like the rest of us), but the problem is that they have a whopping $50K from out of state. This is a measly local King County election and people from San Fran and DC are going to decide it for ME? Something about that really doesn’t jive.

  4. 5

    Leaward spews:

    Responding to FoodforThought:
    I looked it up. Teamsters Joint Council 28 represents Teamsters throughout the PNW.

    And just as paying dues for 8 months to the Teamsters does not make you a labor supporter, getting the Sierra Club calendar does not make you an environmentalist. On the other hand, taking, and begging for, money from port polluters and insiders certainly makes Albro’s environmental credentials suspect.

  5. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    What do you expect from a newspaper run by an anti-worker, cheap labor conservative, union-hating Republican who lives in a $4 million waterfront home?*

    Poor Frank** must not have seen the Internet coming when he spent $150 million on his shiny new printing plant in Bothell.

    * Due to recent economic developments, Frank Blethen’s home is now worth more than his business. According to McClatchy Newspapers, which owns the 49% of the Seattle Times Co. the Blethen family doesn’t own, the book value of the Seattle Times Co. is zero.

    ** Literally; see note (*) above.

  6. 7

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I think we should get rid of the port tax, which would force the port to either break even on its far-flung business enterprises or fold its tent. If the port commissioners and their hired guns can’t run their operations on a break-even basis, then they sure as hell don’t deserve a taxpayer bailout.

  7. 8

    tpn spews:

    I have found that the only thing consistent about the Times (Blethens) is their extreme anti-unionism. And that goes back at least 100 years.

  8. 9

    Foodforthought spews:

    Responding to Leaward:

    I don’t object to the Teamsters local putting their two cents into this race. I object to the national Teamsters organization (DRIVE) putting $25K into this race.

    I’m sorry, but the Teamsters nation-wide (or anybody nation-wide) simply don’t represent the people of King County and should not be so influential in this race.

    It would be like foreign interests backing a presidential candidate. Ya dig?

  9. 10

    Leaward spews:

    I get whatcha’ spewing, FoodforThought.

    If the Teamsters Int’l didn’t represent anyone in King County then I’d agree. But King County Teamsters from the county’s 3 locals (117, 763 and 174)pay dues that to the DC-based organization, they vote in the International caucus, they attend International meetings, send representatives to the boring committees etc. So the International represents those King County locals and is supporting those locals who asked for the money (which looks to me like matching funds, exactly the amount given by the Joint Council). They could have passed the money through the locals, I guess, but didn’t.

    Ditto with the Longshore Union.

  10. 11

    Foodforthought spews:

    Yeah yeah, I wish it didn’t have to go through the grapevine to get back where it came from though. Sigh. What happened to keeping it simple?

  11. 12

    Sarah G spews:

    Foodforthought (a/k/a one of Commissioner Tarleton’s many online pseudonyms):

    You had all sorts of out-of-state money from your friends in the DC military-industrial complex two years ago, didn’t you? Now that you’ve safely embedded yourself with the port good old boys, you want to begrudge other port commission candidates the same benies? Just doesn’t seem fair, eh?

    Politics is politics, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.