No raise for City Light boss
Mayor Ed Murray said today that he would not give Seattle City Light CEO Jorge Carrasco a raise. "It has become a political football," the mayor said. Carrasco's current $245,000 annual salary is the second highest of any Seattle city government employee (At $250,000 the new police chief's salary is slightly higher). The City Council recently voted to increase the salary range for Carrasco's post, which would've allowed his pay to rise up to $364,481 per year. The mayor had said that he backed raising the City Light chief's annual salary by about $60,000, to roughly $305,000.
But around the time the pay-range increase was approved by the Council, The Seattle Times' Jim Brunner reported that City Light had hired a reputation management firm, Brand.com, to burnish Internet search results related to the utility and, specifically, Carrasco's name. Then, The Times reported on an incident that took place last year, in which Carrasco was snookered into giving apparent con men access to City Light's scrap copper. Most recently, Carrasco said in a KIRO Radio interview that he had not asked the mayor for a raise. But the Mayor's Office later confirmed that he had. The mayor said in a press conference today that Carrasco had also indicated that the he was considering other jobs.
Murray plans to work with the City Council to come up with a new, independent process to determine the "appropriate salary" for the City Light post and other city government positions. "We need to pay public employees what they're worth," he said. He indicated that, if Carrasco leaves, the city would likely have to pay more than what the City Light executive is receiving now to find a well-qualified successor.
Kshama Sawant, one of two council members to oppose the pay-range increase, said in a statement, "This striking reversal is the outcome of strong public pressure on the City's political establishment and a sign of the disgust working people feel about executive excess." — B.L. (This item has been updated to correct the salary ranking.)
San Juan phone outage
5:03 p.m. The San Juan Islands have been hit by a widespread phone outage this afternoon, which is affecting 911 emergency calls and island-to-island calling. A CenturyLink press release blames the problems on a cable being cut by an "outside contractor," according to the Journal of the San Juan Islands. The outage is also reported to be affecting Internet and cell phone service. It's only about eight months since another major phone disruption caused similar problems, which stretched over a wearying stretch of three days for residents. — J.C.
Petitions handed in to block $15 wage law
5:23 p.m. Forward Seattle today turned in petitions seeking to overturn the city’s new $15 minimum wage law. The City Clerk’s office told The Seattle Times that it will take until at least Monday to determine whether there are enough valid signatures to put the law to a public vote.
Supporters of the $15 minimum wage have charged that signature gatherers of Forward Seattle have been accused of lying to the public about their referendum measure, which would put the ordinance to a vote in November. Forward Seattle has said it gave strict instructions about what could be said to the company contracting to collect signatures. Dan Donohoe, spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office, said in an email today that the charges have been referred to Seattle police and the City Attorney’s for investigation as possible gross misdemeanors. – J.B.
Initiative seeks class size reductions
A group called Class Size Counts today turned in petition signatures for I-1351, an initiative to reduce class sizes throughout the state public school system. A spokesperson for the group said the 325,000 signatures, gathered by volunteers, should be plenty to qualify it for the the November general election ballot. The measure would expand existing state plans to reduce class sizes, and it would provide for more counselors and other support staff in schools. There is nothing in the initiative to increase state revenues to provide for the additional staffing or to direct the Legislature on what other expenses to cut to pay for the improvements.
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