Journalism Axiom No. 247: The inverse of the number of times a press release is forwarded into your email inbox is the numeric equivalent of its actual value as news. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. Case in point: last week, local non-profit Puget Sound Sage sent out a press release announcing the results of their latest survey. Shockingly, it finds that a majority of South Park and Georgetown residents believe that the Port of Seattle is making them ill. More specifically, that pollution (air, noise, and otherwise) from the trucks that sit idling on the streets in between transporting containers to and from the Port is causing them all manner of health disorder. Times forwarded to inbox: six. Normally this would result in swift banishment to the slush pile, where it would be right now if not for this quote from Puget Sound Sage's Executive Director David West:
Residents of Georgetown and South Park also have asked the port to institute a comprehensive Clean Trucks Plan, like the one used so successfully at the Port of Los Angeles.
And by successful we can assume he means dead in the water.
As the as the Port Commissioner race is winds down, and residents' only real chance to affect a policy change at the Port inches closer, it's worth noting that the Port of Los Angeles' "clean truck" policy touted by West is currently being held up by a lawsuit. The main sticking point is a stipulation that requires all truck drivers be hired on full time by trucking companies, effectively banishing the owner-operator model to the scrap heap. The national unions wanted it. The trucking companies who do business at the port predictably did not. And to the 9th Circuit Federal Court they went, to return early next year with a final resolution. Maybe.
The Port of Seattle is working toward instituting a similar program though it conspicuously maintains the industry standard owner/operator model. Therein lies at least a partial explanation for why the federated unions of Change to Win and other unions have been contributing to commissioner candidates like Max Vekich who've at least some token union and/or truck-driver sympathies, and organizations like Port Reform that are working to elect them. If and when the port commission does attach an owner operator ban to its own clean trucks program, expect a similar legal fight, if the L.A. lawsuit hasn't already been resolved of course. So, invest in a box of medical masks, south-enders. This could take a while.