Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

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Archive for June, 2008

Jun 18 2008

The Right Person to Lead “Your Seattle City Light”

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As Chair of the Seattle City Council’s Energy and Technology Committee, it is my job to make recommendations on policy and legislative matters regarding your largest public utility – Seattle City Light. My role includes reviewing its finances, rates, conservation policies and strategic plan. However, every four years I assume the role of “Board Chair” to examine whether the leader should keep his or her job or, in the alternative, whether new leadership is needed. That was the case four years ago when City Light Superintendent Gary Zarker was not confirmed.

How do you evaluate a CEO? Rate payers care about competitive and predictable rates. Customers care about customer service. Employees care about morale, trust and fairness in their workplace. Union members care about jobs for their members. Citizen advisors are concerned about the stability, predictability and condition of the utility’s aging network. Conservationists are concerned about City Light’s efforts to use new and renewable forms of energy and commitment toward sustainability. A strong evaluation considers all of these factors.

Personally, I was not looking for acceptable leadership or simple “competence.” I want remarkable leadership that understands what it takes to steer City Light back to its rightful place as one of the top public utilities in the nation. I believe that Superintendent Carrasco has set the wheels in motion to achieve that. The rates have remained competitive and stable, customer service has vastly improved, and progress is being made on an accelerated conservation plan that will account for 36% of new resources by 2020. Despite these achievements, City Light has issues that still require attention.

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Jun 11 2008

City Light Superintendent Recommendations to be heard at June 18 Energy & Technology Committee

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On Wednesday, June 18, 2008, Councilmember Harrell, chair of the Energy and Technology Committee will disclose his recommendation of whether or not to reconfirm Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco. The meeting begins at 2:00 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall. There will be a public comment session at the beginning of the meeting and the public is welcome to attend.

Councilmember Harrell began the reconfirmation process in the middle of February and has been very thorough in gathering information and establishing a process by which key department heads should be measured. There have been several “information gathering sessions” with City Light employees and ratepayers, as well as a May 13, 2008, public comment session in Council Chambers. He established a voluntary team of facilitators to assist in the process, oversaw City Light employee polling, and kept a log of all feedback, whether positive or negative. His work also included a review of Council recommendations to City Light within the last four years. All of the interaction with employees and ratepayers has played an important role in the development of Councilmember Harrell’s recommendation, which will be disclosed at the June 18th meeting.

After the recommendation passes out of the Energy and Technology Committee, it will go before the Full Council for a vote on Monday, June 23, 2008.

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