After the devastating state auditor's report [PDF], an ongoing Justice Department investigation, and the Port of Seattle's internal review of its own operations, the Municipal League's announcement that it, too, will study port governance may seem like overkill. But appearances can be deceiving, said Bruce Carter, a Seattle Municipal Court judge pro tem who will lead the league's work. "We decided we'd do this quite a while ago, before the audit came out," said Carter, who left the U.S. Attorney's office in 2001 after serving 30 years as a federal prosecutor who specialized in white-collar crime. The Muni League decided to wait until after last fall's port elections were done, Carter said, because it didn't want its findings or recommendations turned to "short term advantage" by candidates. He could provide no timeline for when the league's study will be done but said it will take months. In a release announcing its work [PDF], the good-government group noted that in 1911, when the league itself was only a year old, it "successfully advocated for the creation of the publicly owned port to offset the influence of shipping and railroad monopolies." Asked if the review meant the league planned to clean up the mess it helped create, Carter laughed and demurred, saying the goal will be to improve the "openness and effectiveness of the port." "We were thinking we'd be providing a positive perspective," he said. "We're still hoping to do that. We're not going to be plowing ground behind auditor or for Justice Department."