Michael Murphy’s Aug. 15 letter illustrates why E. J. Zita’s candidacy for Olympia port commissioner is so important. Murphy says that Zita’s questioning of a fuel dock at the port is “…dumb as a brick.” But Zita is posing a smart question, not just with respect to the fuel dock, but with port operations in general. The question is should the port operate as a private business? Or, since it is a public entity, should it take a broader view of its role in the community?
It's possible that the fuel dock could be profitable to the port but be a loss, or no gain, to the community. There are other fueling options available to boaters. If the port’s dock were to damage those businesses, perhaps causing them to close, would the community be better off? There might be just a transfer of benefits from some boaters to others and from small businesses to the port. Should the port - a public entity - compete with existing businesses?
These questions deserve discussion by the port commission and the public. A port commissioner should weigh opposing views in hopes of pursuing the public interest. That seems to be what Zita is doing.
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