Port of Seattle CEO resigns after questionable audit

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Monday, February 06, 2017

A Washington state audit revealed that the Port of Seattle gave $4.7 million in questionable raises to 642 nonunion employees, a spokeswoman for the state auditor’s office confirmed.

The audit contends that the raises could have violated the state constitution because they were not merit based.

Information about the audit broke last week. On Feb. 2, Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick turned in his resignation.

Fick was on administrative leave at the time of the resignation, but Port of Seattle Commission President Tom Albro said the audit wasn’t the reason Fick was on leave.

“The Port Commission had raised multiple personnel issues with Mr. Fick during his performance review,” Albro said in a news release. “He was not placed on administrative leave as a result of the audit.”

In December 2015, the Port Commission approved increasing the standard workweek from 37.5 to 40 hours.

“We believe that the one-time payment achieved the intended effect of supporting employee retention and addressing employee concerns,” Albro said on Feb. 3. “We have conveyed to the state auditor’s office our belief that the Port has a strong legal basis for taking this action. The audit is still in process. We respect the state auditor office’s process and accountability to the public, and we are working collaboratively with them to expedite completion and public release of the audit with all of the facts and circumstances and the Port’s full response.”

According to The Seattle Times, the raises also included a “secret” $24,500 pay increase to Fick. He proposed the 7 percent lump-sum payment to all nonunion employees, but didn’t tell the commission his $350,000 would be subject to the pay increase,” the Times reported. Other allegations against Fick include the acceptance of improper gifts from Port customers. Fick was also charged with DUI in April 2016.

Fick did not mention the allegations in his resignation letter. Instead, he said he was leaving the Port to return to the private sector.

Dave Soike, who was serving as the Port’s chief operating officer, was named the interim CEO.

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