Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

Archive for April, 2009

Apr 26 2009

Seattle City Light Financial Situation:
It is Time to Get Creative

You may have tuned in to the Energy and Technology Committee meeting of April 1, 2009, and heard the presentation and ensuing discussion with City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco. The presentation painted a dire picture of the Utility’s current financial condition. In my opinion, the Utility’s proposed solution to cut some core customer service elements were presented as a precursor to a request for a rate increase. In a press release dated, April 1, 2009, Mayor Greg Nickels proclaimed that he would not request a rate increase in 2009 and that he is supportive of the proposed cuts. On April 9th, Council President Richard Conlin and I co-wrote a letter to the Superintendent, requesting that the Utility re-examine many of their cuts. Our concern was that some may be ill-advised and could possibly produce unintended consequences. For example, cutting costs in tree trimming, which is designed to reduce the frequency of power outages, may not produce the actual savings we desire. Also, City Light’s proposed cuts to conservation may not recognize the value of conservation by the freeing up of energy and therefore may overstate the net savings to the Utility. When making budget cuts, I would like the net savings to be measurable, predictable, quantifiable…and most of all…real.

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It is Time to Get Creative

Apr 25 2009

19th Annual Youth and Law Forum:
A model for Mentorship

Seattle’s youth make well-informed career and life choices

On the morning of April 18th, 2009, I was honored to give the keynote address to almost 100 youth at the 19th Annual Youth and Law Forum, held at the First AME Church, Seattle. I have been involved in the Forum since it first began in 1990. This year’s theme, Law and Order, focused on teaching young people how to better understand the judicial and law enforcement fields from the very people who serve in them, as well as educate youth on court procedures and their legal rights and responsibilities.

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A model for Mentorship

Apr 19 2009

Expanded Utility Bill Assistance

The day after my March 10th, 2009, E-newsletter was dispersed, Mayor Greg Nickels announced changes to the City’s utility rate assistance programs. More citizens will become eligible to receive assistance with their electric and water bills. The changes in the program are expected to increase participation by approximately 1,000 residents. I have been very supportive of this effort, as demonstrated by my successful advocacy of $100,000 to promote an electric bill assistance program.

Specifically, under the Low-Income Rate Assistance program, families of four with a yearly income of $53,124 or less are eligible for a 50 percent reduction on their utility bills for up to 18 months.

To find out more about this and other programs, click the following link:

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Apr 17 2009

Open Government: No Closed Door Meetings

Published by under Open Government

For the record, I never participated in any four-person meetings that became the subject of recent headlines regarding private budget meetings. Five is the magic number in a nine- member council since, as Councilmember Sam Smith would say, “Five makes policy.” However, I believe establishing a “rolling quorum” by rotating smaller groups below five is unlawful and a breach of public trust. Transparency in government is something that I feel very strongly about. That is why I agreed to Co-Chair the Council’s Special Committee on Open Government. The goal of this committee is to ensure that all City departments implement best practices for open meetings and public-records disclosure. I believe government proceedings should take place in public settings. I do believe the Council does a great job of attempting to conduct its affairs in a transparent manner. Committee and Full Council meetings are conducted in a public setting and are broadcast live on the Seattle Channel 21. Subsequently, the meetings are re-broadcast and citizens can dial up past meetings by going to the Seattle Channel website. I will continue to meet with members of the public to understand where we can make our work more transparent in some of the following ways: (1) using technology to make documents more available and accessible; (2) examining logistics of how we communicate such as meeting times, locations and translation barriers; and, (3) examining best practices for boards, commissions and committees utilized by the City.

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Apr 12 2009

Landfill = More Clean Energy for Your Seattle City Light

Recently, I was successful in getting legislation passed that allows Seattle City Light to enter into a 20-year renewable power purchase agreement with Waste Management Renewable Energy LLC (WM). I am pleased to announce that this legislation was passed by the Full Council on April 6, 2009. The passage of this legislation adds another element to City Light’s renewable energy portfolio which is required by I-937 to show that 15 percent of all power is generated by new and renewable sources by 2020. It must be noted that City Light’s clean hydroelectric power does not fit the criteria to be included within I-937 as a renewable resource.

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Apr 10 2009

No Utility Rate Increases in 2009!

News release issued yesterday (4/09/09):
“No Utility Rate Increases in 2009!

SEATTLE – City Councilmembers Richard Conlin and Bruce Harrell have notified the Mayor that they will not consider electricity, sewer, or drainage rate increases for 2009. Conlin and Harrell do not want to add financial strain to residents and local businesses struggling to make ends meet during a recessionary economy that has lost jobs, investments, and home values.

Seattle Public Utilities and City Light, facing revenue shortfalls, have been planning to request rate increases in 2009. However, rather than place additional burden on Seattle ratepayers to cover these costs, Councilmembers Bruce Harrell and Richard Conlin are challenging both Utilities to come up with alternative solutions to manage budgets with existing rates.

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