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December 03, 2008

It's Official: Port of Seattle Committed Fraud

Kristin Millares Bolt reports that the Port of Seattle's investigation of itself (overseen by commissioners Bryant and Tarleton) shows the Port committed fraud while under the leadership of former CEO Mic Dinsmore. Not much of a surprise.

Among other things, port employees steer[ed] contracts to favored contractors for work that was already done, lied to the Port Commission and broke up large contracts into smaller ones to avoid state bidding laws.


The McKay report also found that Dinsmore, who led the port during the period in question, also violated the port ethics policy "when he used the services of a port consultant, McBee Strategic Consulting, to obtain a paid internship for his daughter."


A few of the greatest hits:

  • That a port employee, prior to the bid submission date, shared "a detailed internal port estimate" with primary third runway contractor TTI Construction on a third runway contract and didn't tell senior port leadership.

    That port employees "falsely represented a $2 million cost reduction as a $9.4 million reduction in an attempt to avoid commission scrutiny" of a third runway embankment contract. Former Port Chief Executive Mic Dinsmore and current Aviation Director Mark Reis negotiated the contract at a steak house with TTI Construction.

    That a commission memo written about that TTI Construction contract by the port staff used "overtly misleading language intended to lull the commission into taking no action."

  • That port staff steered work to their favorite contractors, "often awarding contracts for work that had already been performed".

  • That port staff broke up large contracts into smaller contracts to avoid state and port bidding requirements.

  • That port staff "amended a $25,000 no-competition "emergency" professional services agreement to more than $1 million and added work that was outside the scope of the original agreement, after the "emergency" window had passed.

  • I've been reading a lot of fiction lately, mostly from The Best American Short Stories of 2008, and it's a very good collection. But it turns out that sometimes the old saying, "truth is stranger than fiction" still holds. And the port story would be purely entertaining if it didn't include the sad fact that taxpayer dollars were used to commit the aforementioned frauds.

    Well, we don't have Mic Dinsmore to kick around anymore. The question is, will current Port CEO Tay Yoshitani make good on his promise to hold the offenders accountable?

    Last December, Yoshitani said he would have "zero tolerance" for fraud. In a statement released Wednesday, Yoshitani said, "I stand by my word. Any staff member who has committed fraud will be appropriately disciplined and potentially terminated."

    "Potentially terminated"? Please. Those people should probably be in jail. At the very least, we await news of their pink slips.

    Ironic Side Note: McBee Strategic Consulting is the same firm that Glynda Becker (Karl Rove's liaison to the WA state GOP, during the firing of former US attorney John McKay) joined after leaving political life. Mike McKay, John's brother and also a former US attorney for Washington, conducted the investigation of the Port of Seattle.

    Posted by shoephone on December 3, 2008 at 03:28 PM | Permalink


    Perhaps he said "potentially terminated" because he knew they'd resign [1]. That article says that the report mentions ten Port employees who were involved in fraudulent activity. Could be that more will be resigning.

    I hate this comments thing. You can't embed links or add italics.

    [1] http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/391244_port09.html?source=mypi

    Posted by: Cujo359 | Dec 8, 2008 11:50:06 PM

    I commiserate on the embed thing, Cujo. Unfortunately, I'm not the "technician" around here...

    I note that the PI's most current article quotes both Lloyd Hara and John Creighton as supporting outright termination for the fraudsters (as do I). I agree with them that resignation lets those people off without having to face the music.

    If Rothnie did what McKay's report alludes to then he belongs in jail. After the past eight years of corruptions planned and carried out by Abramoffs, Cunninghams, Doolittles, Jeffersons, Stevenses and the criminal enterprise we call Halliburton, I've become a real hard ass: I'm just not willing to tolerate anymore corruption from public employees, whether they be at the top or the bottom of the government food chain. And local officials are the easiest to hold accountable, if only we will do it. Mic Dinsmore helped create the mess of corruption and malfeasance at the Port. Now that he is gone, those who helped him commit those acts need to feel some serious heat. Otherwise, there will be absolutely no public confidence in the ability of the Port CEO and commisioners to ever truly hold anyone accountable for any such acts in the future.

    I believe the taxpayers of this city are unwilling to negotiate with those who play fast and loose with their money.

    But like I said, I'm just a hard ass about this issue.

    Posted by: shoephone | Dec 9, 2008 12:20:27 AM

    Unfortunately, shoephone, you may be right. I think that people like Ted Stevens, who profit from their positions, must be prosecuted. Others, well, tell me the circumstances, but if they enable such things be deliberately ignoring their obligations, they need to be fired at the least.

    I think Tay Yoshitani is just trying to take the easy way out.

    Posted by: Cujo359 | Dec 9, 2008 1:44:31 AM

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