Seattle Port Commission Seeks Dedicated Applicant

On January 31, 2013, Commissioner Gael Tarleton will resign from the Seattle Port Commission. Under Washington law, the commission has 90 days after the resignation to designate a replacement. Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton hopes to find the right person to fill this open position, and he’s being vocal about what attributes he thinks make a good commissioner.

Since the commission is relatively small, cooperation between members is key. Commissioner Creighton hopes to find an applicant who is committed to clear and open communication, ensuring that the commission runs smoothly without interpersonal conflicts.

“I’d like to find an appointee who has the courage and integrity to say what they mean and mean what they say,” Commissioner Creighton says. “If someone is prone to not being upfront or hiding information in a small board like this, the group can become incredibly dysfunctional incredibly quickly. We need to work together as a team to achieve all of our goals, so the ability to work well in a collaborative environment is vital.”

Commissioner Creighton would also like to ensure that the appointee is invested in the success of the community, and is willing to do a significant amount of work for a relatively low level of compensation.

“This position involves about 20 hours of work per week, but the monthly salary is only $500 per month,” says Commissioner Creighton. “A commissioner is also expected to participate on port-related outside boards and handle other port-related responsibilities throughout the week. We need someone who has the financial flexibility to handle all of this work for a low level of compensation. Ideally, we’ll find someone who feels so strongly about the community that the position is worth doing no matter how small the paycheck might be.”

Applicants have until February 1 to respond. The commission hopes to hold a vote to appoint the new commissioner sometime during the month of March. Commissioner Creighton will be one of four commissioners selecting the new board member.

“I hope all qualified people will apply and take advantage of this opportunity to serve the people of King County,” Commissioner Creighton says.

Seattle Port Official John Creighton Calls on TSA to Update Security Scanners at Sea-Tac Airport

Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton is concerned about the health impacts and reliability of the security machinery being used by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and is calling on the federal government to replace the current scanners being used with newer, less controversial technology.

The TSA operates “backscatter’’ Advanced Imaging Technology in the security lines at Sea-Tac Airport.   Sea-Tac Airport is the 17th busiest commercial airport in the country, with 32.8 million passengers having passed through the airport in 2011.  Backscatter scanners are used by the TSA to detect hidden weapons, tools, liquids, narcotics, currency, and other dangerous or prohibited items from being carried aboard planes.

Passenger rights groups and some members of the academic and scientific communities have expressed concerns about the type of radiation emitted from, and privacy and reliability with respect to, the backscatter scanners.  Because of these concerns, many passengers choose to “opt out” of going through Backscatter Scanners, choosing a physical pat-down and older technology x-ray machines instead.

In the wake of the concerns raised by these groups, TSA Administrator John Pistole made a commitment to Congress to conduct an independent study on the effects of backscatter scanners and plans to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to study the effects of the technology.

Backscatter scanners are one of two types of “whole body” imaging technologies being used to perform full body scans of airline passengers.  A competing technology is the millimeter wave scanner.

The energy that is emitted by a backscatter scanners is a type of ionizing radiation.  Some groups point to studies that have shown ionizing radiation to be carcinogenic even in small doses, though the doses used in airport scanners are believed to have a negligible effect.  Millimeter scanners use a different, less controversial scanning technology.

Over the last year, the TSA has been quietly replacing the backscatter scanners in use at many of the nation’s largest airports with millimeter-wave machines that do not emit x-rays and feature privacy software that produces a generic image of passengers’ bodies.

Commissioner Johan Creighton Seattle intends to sponsor a motion calling on the TSA to replace the current security machinery in use at Sea-Tac Airport with the millimeter-wave machines being installed at other large commercial airports across the country.“The health and safety of the traveling public is our paramount concern at the Port of Seattle, said Commissioner Creighton.  “In view of the high volume of travelers that passes through Sea-Tac Airport every year and the health and other concerns raised by the Backscatter Scanner technology, I am asking the Port Commission to call upon the TSA to invest in safer, more reliable machinery at Sea-Tac Airport, just as they are doing at the nation’s other large airports.”