Seattle Port Commission Announces Open Position

Ports hold a key position within the state of Washington. There are 75 port districts throughout the state (see the Washington Ports report), and most of what residents eat, wear and use come through these ports. Ports do more than just facilitate the distribution of goods, however, as ports also help to move people in and out of the state, and bring vital tourism dollars into the community. Getting involved in the ports industry is intensely rewarding, says Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton, and King County residents have the opportunity to do just that, as a member of the Seattle port commission is resigning at the end of January of 2013.

Port Commissioner John Creighton is hoping that the selection process for the port commission opening will be quite competitive, attracting many good candidates. The candidate selected will have to stand for election this year in a special election and then again in 2015.  Commissioner Creighton encourages those who are interested in serving the public to apply, even though the hurdles to running for election county-wide may be daunting, as the region needs qualified, dedicated people serving in public office.

Interested parties have until February 1 to submit applications. The commission will review those applications carefully, and select 4-6 finalists for the open seat.  On February 26 and 27, the commission will hold town hall meetings to allow those finalists to introduce themselves to the community and answer questions. A final vote will be held sometime after these meetings, and the new commissioner will take office in March.

Commissioner Creighton holds one of four votes in the selection process, and he’s open to applicants of all backgrounds and political affiliations. He’s committed to the community and wants to ensure that the right person is found for the job, so a commitment to hard work and personal integrity will rank higher with Commissioner Creighton than almost any other attribute an applicant might possess.

“The commission is currently working on an ambitious 25-year strategic plan that will add some 100,000 new jobs to the region,” says Commissioner Creighton. “It’s vital that we add the right person to our team, someone who can help us put in place the policies and initiate the projects necessary to meet all of the goals that we have set out for the port. I am confident that many qualified people will apply for the position and that the commission will be able to come to a consensus in choosing the new commissioner.  We look forward to getting to work in 2013 with our new colleague.”

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.”

Commissioner John Creighton Leads Seattle Port Commission’s Efforts to Seek Review of Labor Relations Ruling

The Port approved at its October 23 business meeting a motion authorizing outside legal counsel to seek to dissolve or modify a 2000 federal court order and consent judgment that blocked a Port attempt to make a port business hire workers from a particular Port-allied labor union. The agreement also permanently blocked any other Port actions interfering with the federally-protected rights of concessionaires “to assign work to their own employees.”

The injunction, which the Port Commission believes is overly broad, has effectively blocked the Port from requiring or even strongly recommending to concessionaires that they adopt a “worker retention” policy.

The Port has detailed publicly that it wants concessionaires – companies who bid to win lease rights on Port property to do business – to commit upfront, perhaps as a condition of being awarded a concession, that they will take steps to try to hire suitable ex-workers of other Port concessionaires who ended their leases with the Port. The worker retention policy has been proposed as part of a broader Concessions Master Plan the Port is developing to govern its relations from 2015 to 2017 with concessionaires at its Sea-Tac Airport. There are more than 50 in-airport concessionaires at Sea-Tac and others on adjacent airport properties.

“We have a dedicated, experienced pool of workers at the airport,” said Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton, “it is important that, as we look to renew our concessions program, we have a smooth transition both for our workforce and the traveling public.”

About Commissioner John Creighton

John Creighton was elected to the Seattle Port Commission in 2005 and re-elected in 2009. He served as Port Commission President from 2007-2008, and for the last two years as co-chair of the Commission’s Century Agenda committee. The Century Agenda committee has led the development of the Port’s 25-year plan to help grow 100,000 new port-related jobs for the Puget Sound region.

Prior to returning home to Seattle in 2000, John was a business lawyer who practiced law in Washington, D.C., and overseas in Istanbul, Helsinki and Singapore with the New York law firm White & Case. John grew up in the eastside suburbs of Seattle, where he attended Interlake High School. For more information about Commissioner John Creighton, please visit

Commissioner Creighton Comments on 2011 Air Emissions Report and Next Steps by Port of Seattle

Maritime-related air pollution has decreased—as much as 40 percent, depending on the type—since 2005, according to a report released today by the Puget Sound Maritime Air Forum.

“The results of the 2011 Emissions Inventory are significant, with substantial pollution reductions across the board for the Seattle harbor,” said Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton.  “We still have work to do in protecting the environment and the health of both our workers and our communities, but the results of the 2011 inventory show that we are headed in the right direction.”

The report is the result of the 2011 Puget Sound Maritime Air Emissions Inventory, which provided an update to the 2005 baseline inventory.

The inventory estimated greenhouse gases, diesel particulate matter and a number of other pollutants, such as sulfur dioxides and volatile organic compounds. It focused on pollutants related to ships, harbor vessels, cargo-handling equipment, rail, heavy-duty trucks and other fleet vehicles associated with maritime activities.

Much of the clean air progress is due to significant, voluntary investments of the maritime industry and government agencies in cleaner technology, cleaner fuels and more efficient systems of operation.

Results from the 2011 inventory will help guide and focus future emissions reduction investments.Emissions in the airshed dropped since 2005 from the following pollutants:

Nitrogen oxides: reduced 14 percent

  • Volatile organic compounds: reduced 40 percent
  • Sulfur oxides: reduced 14 percent
  • Particulate matter (PM10): reduced 16 percent
  • Fine particulate matter (PM2.5): reduced 16 percent
  • Diesel particulate matter: reduced 16 percent
  • Carbon dioxide: reduced 5 percent

Overall, emissions fell for most sources since 2005. Diesel particulate matter emissions are summarized below:


  • Ocean-going vessels: reduced 16 percent
  • Harbor vessels: increased 7 percent
  • Locomotives: reduced 24 percent
  • Cargo-handling equipment: reduced 40 percent
  • Heavy-duty vehicles: reduced 52 percent
  • Fleet vehicles: reduced 47 percent

In the harbor vessels sector, which includes ferries, tugs, fishing and recreational boats, some categories of pollutants increased.This is likely due to a 12 percent increase in boat traffic, as well as an increase in the use of larger engines, which have higher emissions.

The maritime industry has adopted a number of voluntary initiatives to reduce emissions, including switching to low-sulfur or biodiesel fuels, using shore power, replacing or retrofitting older engines and improving systems to use equipment more efficiently.

The Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, a ground-breaking initiative of the ports of Tacoma, Seattle and Metro Vancouver, B.C., has helped further reduce emissions in the Puget Sound and Georgia air basins. Mandatory engine and fuel standards also have spurred adopting newer engines and cleaner fuels.

Some of the decrease also can be attributed to fewer ship calls and less cargo resulting from a sluggish economy.

Inventory results will help focus future efforts and investments. The ports of Seattle and Tacoma are updating their Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy goals based on the inventory results.

Maritime partners will continue efforts to lower diesel emissions because they pose a public health risk. Exposure to diesel pollutants can contribute to increased rates of lung cancer, chronic respiratory and cardiovascular disease and other health effects.

Maritime industry partners continue to seek ways to reduce emissions from all sources, with particular attention to ships. While ship-related emissions have dropped, they account for 63 percent of the maritime-related diesel particulate matter emissions.

The 2011 results do not account for the North American “Emission Control Area” that went into effect Aug. 1, 2012, requiring ships operating in waters along the Pacific, Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States and Canada to burn cleaner fuels. This regulation is expected to have a significant effect in further reducing ship-related emissions.

The Seattle Port Commission will also soon be considering the next generation, or “Phase 2”, of its Clean Trucks Program.  The Commission will be taking a look at a number of options to incentivize cleaner truck technologies in the harbor, including a proposal by Commissioner Rob Holland last year to sponsor a pilot program with respect to trucks powered by compressed natural gas, or CNG.

“We have set the goal at the Port of Seattle to be the cleanest, most energy efficient port in North America,” noted Commissioner Creighton.  “I want to thank Commissioner Holland for his efforts working with port stakeholders –regulatory agencies, manufacturers, shipping and trucking companies and truck drivers – to look at how the Port of Seattle can continue to improve air quality for our community.”

Solving Traffic Issues for Both Freight and Cars in the Puget Sound Region

In 2009, according to the Texas Transportation Institute, Seattle was ranked 10th in the nation in terms of traffic congestion. Commuters spent hours behind the wheels of their cars, simply looking at the license plates of the cars ahead of them.  Unfortunately, the problem has only gotten worse in the subsequent years.  In 2012, the city ranked 4th in congestion, according to news reports.  It is a sad statistic, but there are some reasons to be hopeful.  For example, while it’s true that people in the Seattle area are spending longer periods of time in their cars, just trying to move through the city, is likely in part due to road construction.

Because cars share the roads with trucks, congestion also negatively impacts the movement of freight and, ultimately, our region’s economic health.   For many years, state leaders have known that Seattle does not have an efficient system for moving freight, and they have attempted to allocate funds to fix the problem.  In 2005, the state legislature passed an increase in the gas tax – later affirmed by referendum – aimed at funding 274 projects over 16 years, including $542 million for 35 targeted freight mobility projects.

Critical projects being currently undertaken in the Seattle area include the replacement of the Alaska Way Viaduct with the Deep Bore Tunnel and the replacement and widening of the State Route 520 bridge.  Grade separations are being built in South Seattle and throughout the Green River Valley so that cars and trucks will no longer need to stop for passing trains.  The replacement for the South Park Bridge, which had to be closed because it was no longer safe for vehicle traffic, will be completed next year (this is a critical project both for South Seattle neighborhoods and for Boeing freight traffic).  North of downtown Seattle, the Mercer Street corridor is being reworked in a manner that, among other things, will ease the journey of buses and trucks from I-5 to the Port of Seattle’s terminals in North Seattle.

But the 2005 measure does not address all of the state’s transportation needs.  A task force appointed by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire in 2011 estimated that the backlog in funding transportation projects in Washington State is at least $50 billion, though most important needs could be met with the expenditure of $21 billion over ten years.

To meet the Port of Seattle’s 25 year goals to grow seaport cargo throughput to 3.5 million containers per year and to triple air cargo activity at Sea-Tac Airport, it is critical that the state complete the extension of State Route 509 from the airport south to Interstate 5.  Similarly, for the Port of Tacoma to meet its long-term growth goals, the completion of State Route 167 is needed.  Both of those are $1 billion-plus projects however.

Our conversations about transportation funding tend to focus on the merits of specific projects. That usually leaves out a discussion about whether the project complements a broader regional and national strategy.  Does it warrant the dollars it requests, compared to other projects still waiting for funding?

Roads and railways are only as effective as the system they support.  If U.S. ports are going to continue to generate the family-wage jobs and economic opportunity they have produced in the past, transportation funding needs this kind of a new framework, one that ranks projects that best support the economy that move goods from farm to market. Moreover, a properly planned, constructed, and maintained freight system – adding capacity and building grade separations where appropriate – also benefits passenger rail, buses, motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton Welcomes Beecher’s Handmade Cheese to Sea-Tac Airport

Most of the concession leases at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are scheduled to come up for renewal during the period from 2015-2017.  The Seattle Port Commission has been looking at how they can improve revenue while protecting jobs at the airport, make the experience better for the traveling public, create more of a “Northwest sense of place” at the airport focused on Seattle area brands, and increase opportunities for small local businesses.

Foreshadowing this new initiative, earlier this month Sea-Tac Airport welcomed the opening today ofBeecher’s Handmade Cheese in the C concourse. Founded by Tacoma-native Kurt Beecher Dammeier, Beecher’s Cheese joins the array of local specialty stores, along with nationally recognized brands, offered at Sea-Tac.

Best known for its location in Pike Place Market, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese serves artisan, small-batch cheeses, tomato soup, fresh Panini sandwiches, “Oprah’s Best” macaroni and cheese with gourmet coffee from Seattle’s own Caffé Vita.  In addition, the store will offer retail products such as bulk cheese, signature crackers, cheese housewares and cookbooks by Kurt Dammeier and other well-known Seattle chefs. For the Sea-Tac location, Dammeier has also developed a breakfast menu and will soon expand offerings to include fresh fruits, pasta and green salads.


“The Port Commission is committed to improving the airport experience for the traveling public while we expand opportunities for local businesses,” said Commissioner John Creighton.  “We are very excited to welcome local artisan cheesemaker Beecher’s to the airport family.”


Beecher’s Handmade Cheese is located on concourse C, across from the Alaska Air Group/Horizon gates and adjacent to the Massage Bar and butter LONDON.