Port Authorities were all the rage back in 1911. In fact, this was the tail end of a Progressivism trend, where people were sick and tired of greed-driven abuses by railroads and industrialists in the late 19th century. For example, in Oregon, the state legislature created the Port of Portland in 1891 (though, in this example, scandals abounded in the decades that followed).
Interestingly, the same Progressivism that was front and center during the U.S. elections of 2016 was also at the root of the movement to create these port authorities. The people were disgusted, and they demanded reforms by the state. That was more than a century ago, even preceding aviation. In the years since, these port authorities have become captured by those same abusers; they have become servants for moneyed interests, such as the airlines, regional developers, and increasingly the elite multi-national corporations. In 2017 we see, repeatedly, that airport authorities undermine local democracy and local authority, stripping people of powers essential to democracy, while transferring those powers to non-resident business interests … all in the pursuit of higher profit margins.
Perhaps it is now time to abolish these port authorities, such as the Port of Seattle and the Port of Portland?