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Originally published November 26, 2012 at 9:00 PM | Page modified November 27, 2012 at 5:28 PM

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Port commissioner wants budget to include funds for own intern

Seattle Port Commissioner Rob Holland wants to add five interns to the Port Commission budget to help with analysis and clerical work.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Seattle Port Commissioner Rob Holland plans to make a last-minute budget proposal Tuesday for an intern who would help him respond to email, summarize meeting agendas, catalog phone calls and set up meetings.

Holland said the graduate-level interns — up to five, if the other commissioners also want one — would be paid between $40,000 and $55,000 a year for their work, easing the burden of six staff members the Port Commission already has.

"I think it's a great opportunity for a young graduate student to learn about the Port and to serve and to have a body of work that they can share," Holland said. "I think it's a good giveback to the community."

Holland got his start as an intern for the Port of Tacoma. He didn't bring up his internship idea earlier this month, when the commission considered the Port's 2013 budget on first reading, because, he said, it wasn't ready.

Commission President Gael Tarleton said it was because the proposal had so little support, no commissioner would second it. Holland says he now has enough votes to pass it at Tuesday's Port Commission meeting.

Tarleton called Holland's proposal "half-baked" and said it undermines the Port's successful internship program by hiring what she said would really be personal assistants.

The Port already hires 20 to 25 student interns each year for jobs throughout the operation.

"Why does he need an assistant? What's the justification, given that we have 1,800 employees at the Port of Seattle?" she asked. "He wants someone to basically do his job."

Each of the five elected, part-time commissioners is paid a little less than $19,000 a year, plus gas mileage and health insurance. They share six staff members: a chief of staff, a policy analyst, two administrative assistants and two record-keepers, who take minutes and put together agendas, among other tasks.

Holland's proposal leaves open the possibility that the commissioners could share an intern to help full-time staff put together binders before meetings, help in the mail room and collect media clips.

In an email to other commissioners earlier this month, Holland provided a list of what an intern could do, titled, "Specifics I'm looking for intern to assist my success."

Holland often is accompanied to business meetings by his own personal assistant, Michael Martin. Martin takes notes for Holland, schedules meetings and has run his political campaigns.

For the past two months, Holland said, Martin has been doing the work he imagines an intern would do. Holland said Martin has been doing the work without pay.

Tarleton said Martin "resides almost full time in Commissioner Holland's office" even though he is not commission or Port staff.

Holland ran for the Legislature this fall but lost in the primary. During his campaign, between March and July, his campaign paid Martin $9,640 in salary, according to state campaign records.

Now, Holland said, Martin is headed to graduate school. That would make him eligible for a graduate-level internship like the one Holland is proposing.

Holland said he doesn't know whether Martin would be interested, but said he could apply like anyone else.

Martin could not be reached for comment.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @EmilyHeffter.

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