Applying for the open position

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Charles H. Featherstone

I have a job application in my hands.

No, no, Iím not looking to abscond from The Columbia Basin Herald, at least not yet.

It happens I live in the Port of Moses Lake first commissioner district, the one vacated a couple of months ago when long-time Port Commissioner Mike Conley decamped to Arizona. So Ö why not?

Why do I want to be a port commissioner? It isnít for the money. The job doesnít pay much more than $3,000 a year, plus $100-something per meeting. I already have a full-time job. But the portís a neat place, and it would be nice to have a part in overseeing it and shaping its future.

And Iíll be honest ó I like the idea of the occasional junket to exotic places far away. International travel is always best when paid for by someone else. I flew around the world once, but my layover in Tokyo lasted barely long enough to buy and drink the most expensive beer Iíve ever had.

Yeah, Japanese airport beer.

Anyway, this application is not that much different from other job applications Iíve filled out. Name and address and phone number and e-mail and ďHave you been convicted of a crime (other than a minor traffic infraction) or served time in prison within the last 10 years?Ē Circle your highest level of education, list your skills and licenses, last three jobs, and your civic or charitable activities and membership.

They donít ask for typing speed or references or a resume. Iím guessing that candidates for the job will already be somewhat known to the commissioners, or the business community, or the people who matter.

A couple of weeks ago, at the Mitsubishi-sponsored science and technology event for Moses Lake ninth graders, I mentioned that I was considering applying for the open spot to Commissioner Kent Jones, who asked me one question Iím trying to keep in mind:

ďWhat do you bring to the Port of Moses Lake?Ē

What do I bring? On the plus side, I have a very broad experience of the world. As a reporter, Iíve covered agriculture and trade policy on Capitol Hill, gotten familiar with international trade policy, reported on electricity and natural gas trading (and corporate earnings) on Wall Street, and spent time as a business reporter and editor in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Iím willing to learn, I learn quickly, and I know just enough about government and business to make me both informed and dangerous.

But I also know the port is looking for someone with actual business experience to fill the position. Unless you count my short tenure as an office manager for H&R Block in New York (something neither Block nor I wish to ever repeat), Iíve none of that. The only things Iíve ever produced for mass consumption in my life were words.

And the market for my words has always been a pretty thin one.

I suspect what Jones really wanted to know is what relationships I bring to the port that would open up new and unseen business prospects and opportunities. That I donít have.

Still, I have filled out the form and the accompanying Conflict of Interest Disclosure, noting I own shares of Boeing and General Dynamics, both port tenants. Oh, and I cover the port for the Columbia Basin Herald.

And I had to go get myself a Washington driverís license and registered to vote. One of the drawbacks of being a wanderer is keeping the valid ID from several addresses ago ó in my case, Baltimore ó because you never quite know where or when youíll move next. Which is probably another reason I shouldnít be appointed.

So, likely not going to get the job. And this is OK, though I find the prospect of interviewing myself for a story on the Port Commission somewhat amusing.

At least Iíll return my phone calls.

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