Mixed Feelings for City Light Super

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In a confirmation hearing that was predictable (save for a fire alarm that evacuated City Hall-- the second in as many days), Jorge Carrasco-- the controversial leader of Seattle City Light-- appears to have lined up the support he needs from community leaders, though he drew strong opposition from a handful of longtime employees who showed up to testify.

Doreen McGrath, a 23-year employee, told city council members that every time a problem confronts the agency the solution is to hire a consultant to study it. "Part of the culture is that corporations do it better. I don't think that's true," she said. "What I don't see at the utility is a trust in employees. I don't think they're looked to for direction and answers."

Denise Krownbell, a shop steward for Local 17, told the council that Carrasco has an "anti-union, anti-rank-and-file attitude against employees." And Larry Works, a customer service employee for 34 years, agreed. He said: "The twin evils of discrimination and retaliation plague City Light."

But Joe Simpson, the business representative for Local 77, (despite telling The Weekly earlier this year that union would not support Carrasco's reconfirmation) said 77 will stand by the Super, though he was vague as to why. "We have gained on a number of positions," he said.

Former City Light employee Bob Royer, acknowledged that Carrasco brings an "edge to the place" that may cause some hard feelings, "but that's not necessarily bad for the ratepayer," he said.

Customer service has improved since Carrasco took over four years ago, said Rod Kauffman, president of the Building Owners and Managers Association, noting a survey conducted by his organization. Though he said there's still work to be done at the agency-- namely coming up with a plan for managing risk and preparing for what's expected to be massive retirements, Kauffman said Carrasco's "well qualified" for the job. Carrasco also got a nod of approval from former superintendent Randy Hardy, who led the agency from 1984 to 1991.

Council member Bruce Harrell has two more sessions planned to get feedback from employees before his Energy and Technology Committee takes up Carrasco's reconfirmation May 22.

Update: Though the committee plans to discuss Carrasco's reconfirmation on the 22nd, a vote has not yet been scheduled.

 
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