As it turned out, Kshama Sawant did not call for Jorge Carrasco’s job at this morning’s city council meeting. There were no fireworks. No verbal sparring. Instead, all the embattled Seattle City Light CEO got was a light grilling as he answered questions about the multiplicity of controversies that have dogged his office in recent months.
Carrasco fell on his sword, apologizing for recent “mistakes.” As first reported by The Seattle Times, those mistakes include authorizing a $17,500 outlay to a Philadelphia consulting firm to expunge internet search engine results of stories critical of himself and Seattle City Light. Chief among them: A 2008 profile in the Seattle Weekly written by former Seattle Weekly Scribe Aimee Curl.
Then there was that con job committed by two men posing as Native Americans who convinced City Light officials to give them 20 tons of city-owned copper and scrap metal. Both missteps came to light as Mayor Ed Murray was considering hiking Carrasco’s already substantial $245,000 salary by $60,000, though Murray later decided against it.
Carrasco did, however, push back on media reports that money paid to Brand.com was intended to scrub clean his own online profile, saying that the effort was part of a larger campaign to heighten customer awareness of programs like the subsidy for low-income households.
“This was never about my name or my reputation,” Carrasco said. “Brand.com recommended to our staff that there was a nexus between my name and the utility’s name. The way it’s been portrayed is my attempt to embellish my name and reputation, and that was never my intent.”
In response, Sawant questioned whether such marketing efforts were at all a good use of public funds. As the city’s only provider of power, the department is marketing to a captive audience. Money spent even to increase awareness of those programs does not serve the interest of rate payers, Sawant said. “What they want is not so much know to what a program is, but just to have the best result.”
Following the meeting, both Carrasco and Sawant spoke briefly with the press. Carrasco, not unexpectedly, expressed desire to move on from the controversies. “Hopefully we can now focus on the utility,” he said.
Asked after the session her opinion of whether Carrasco should be removed, Sawant balked. “I think that the media should help us bring these issues to light as much as possible so Seattle rate payers as a whole can make a decision,” she said. “And I represent them.”