Tacoma, Seattle ports schedule yet another private joint meeting

For the third time in less than a week, the governing commissions of Puget Sound’s two largest ports will meet in a joint confidential session Monday at the Fabulich Center in Tacoma.

The Tacoma and Seattle port commissions won’t say what’s on the agenda for the 8:30 a.m. meeting Monday other than it concerns planning for the proposed operating alliance between the two ports.

The commissions met last Tuesday and Friday and will meet again Monday under the auspices of the Federal Maritime Commission. The FMC has granted the two port bodies anti-trust immunity to discuss combining the operations and marketing of their marine cargo operations.

Arthur West, an Olympia open government advocate, had challenged those private meetings in court claiming they violated the state’s Open Meetings Act. West lost his initial case before a King County Superior Court judge earlier this year, but he has appealed her ruling.

The two ports are nearing their self-imposed target date of April for submitting their initial plans for combining the two ports’ operations to the FMC. The ports plan to stop short of merging, but they plan to operate their combined terminals under a single alliance to make the best use of their existing facilities.

The push behind forming the alliance is new competition from Southern California, East and Gulf coast ports and fresh challenges from new ports in Canada and Mexico.