Port of Vancouver, Tesoro-Savage meeting raises questions

The Port of Vancouver, already facing one lawsuit accusing it of violating Washington's open public meetings law, has left the public in the dark more than once in landing one of the largest financial deals in its history, an investigation by The Columbian has found.

Public records obtained by the newspaper show that the port's three-member elected commission met privately on April 9, 2013, with officials from the two companies proposing an oil transfer terminal at the port. That gathering occurred about two weeks before Tesoro, a petroleum refiner, and Savage, a transportation company, publicly announced their joint venture to develop the Northwest's largest oil transfer terminal at the port.

The stated purpose of that closed-door meeting: to discuss a minimum price for land the port would sell or lease for the oil terminal, a legally acceptable reason for a closed session. In reality, public documents show that Tesoro and Savage executives pitched the port commissioners on Tesoro's "high-performing culture" and "safety and reliability," Savage's focus on "giving back to the community," and a wide range of other topics that filled a 51-page slide presentation. Continue>>>