Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

By Chris Philips
Managing Editor 

Safe Spaces

 

July 1, 2018



In 1911, the Washington State Port District Act authorized voters to create public port districts that could acquire, construct, and operate waterways, docks, wharves, and other harbor improvements; rail and water transfer and terminal facilities; and ferry systems.

One such port district, the Port of Seattle, is subsidized by taxpayers at the rate of $0.1358 per $1,000 of assessed value. With the median home price in King County hovering around $650,000, this translates to almost $90 per year per household.

To be sure, the Port of Seattle still delivers much of what is laid out in its charter, now sharing the load with the Port of Tacoma under the Northwest Seaport Alliance.

The Port of Seattle recently received approval for the Harbor Navigation Improvement Project, intended to deepen the East and West Waterways to 57 feet below mean lower low water. If authorization and funding for construction come through, the project will improve navigation in Seattle’s East and West Waterways to safely accommodate larger container ships.

“This project will make the Port of Seattle the deepest container port in the nation at 57 feet deep,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Courtney Gregoire. “This is another step forward to making T-5 big ship ready, and able to handle the largest cargo vessels in the world.”

This project is a fine example of the Port of Seattle fulfilling its mandate and acting in the interests of its constituents to improve the safety and capacity of its infrastructure to meet future demand.

The Port of Seattle also runs SeaTac airport, which offers different challenges, including having to provide safe spaces for nursing mothers to feed their children in peace and privacy. We don’t begrudge travelers the new Nursing Mother’s Suites – mothers deserve a quiet place to relax and provide for their children. The suites were spearheaded by commissioner Gregoire, who issued a glowing press release extolling the virtues of the kinder, gentler Port of Seattle.

Last month the port issued another feel-good press release – this one announcing a Welcoming Port Policy offering increased support for “immigrant, refugee and under-represented communities” and promising that all visitors to its facilities would “feel welcome, safe, and able to access services, benefits, and opportunities.”

The release, full of modern social justice jargon, announces the port’s partnership with OneAmerica (formerly Hate Free Zone), a non-profit 501 (c) 3 corporation run by a group of community organizers “standing up for climate justice.”

Climate justice is a recent construct of the left based on the concept of social justice, which has the goal of equalizing participation in society, redistributing resources, and providing safety and security for all. In practice, this results in the advocacy of socialism or communism: the tendency to accept individual injustices in the name of this greater good.

Climate justice demands that people living in heavily urban areas, such as those surrounding a nation’s seaports, have the same quality of air as those living, for example, on a ranch in Wyoming. This concept calls an electric vehicle “zero emission” because the electricity to recharge its batteries might be generated by coal, but not anywhere social justice warriors are worried about.

Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica, says, “civil liberties, economic growth and national security can be advanced together without succumbing to a political environment too often driven by fear.”

In social justice parlance, fear can be combatted by going to a “safe space,” which is defined as a location where people who are upset may gather to receive comfort and counseling for the traumatic experience of being exposed to a difference of opinion.

The port’s Welcoming Port Policy announcement included the following paragraph:

The Port prohibits any Port employees, including law enforcement officers, to ask about place of birth, citizenship or immigration status or collect information on place of birth, citizenship or immigration status.

This new policy will make doing business with the Port of Seattle a bit tricky. For example, how will foreign crews from arriving ships be treated, now that we are all one big happy family?

We reached out to the port for clarification, with little success. We asked, for example, if there are current employees of the Port of Seattle who are in the country illegally.

“To clarify,” the Port replied, “in order to work at the Port, you must be legally authorized to work in the United States. We verify all employment authorization and identities of new employees and retain copies of their I-9 forms at their time of hire as required by law.”

We pointed out that this statement contradicts the new policy, and we wonder how the Port of Seattle will enforce this policy at international shipping terminals and port security areas. The port spokespeople stopped responding at that point, and we’re not surprised. They’ve retreated to their safe spaces.

Chris can be reached at chris@pacmar.com

 
 

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