(Editor’s note: According to the Port of Friday Harbor Acting Director, tax payers’ money funds capital projects, which help the community (like the Spring Street Landing building). It also funds airport operations. Marine operations revenue funds port employees’ salaries, including benefits.)
Our port commissioners voted on Wednesday to offer the recently resigned port director six months of Cobra health insurance coverage at a cost of $9,600, paid for by the port, meaning paid by the taxpayers. This decision is difficult to understand given they have expressed such extreme concerns regarding the port’s finances. Their motivation for this was not clearly stated, but they did infer that the former director was treated unfairly by the public and feel guilty about that. We just have to question if that is a good enough reason to spend public monies when they have had to eliminate positions due to their worry of budget shortfalls.
We have been following what has been going on with the Port of Seattle and the trouble they are in regarding illegal compensation. The Washington State Auditor found them in violation of the state constitution because the compensation given after the fact was not tied to goals and objectives and was, therefore, illegal. We would like to assume that our commissioners have verified with their attorney and the Washington state Auditor that this retroactive offer of compensation in the form of Cobra health insurance coverage is indeed either in his original contract or tied to goals and objectives and therefore permitted by the state. Unfortunately, given all that has transpired, we cannot assume these commissioners will do the right thing, so the question must be asked: is this legal?
Lauren Cohen and Derek Steere
San Juan Canvas/port tenant