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Seattle City Light's Carrasco: "I apologize."

After a couple rough weeks of publicity, the City Light chief tries to make amends.
Seattle City Light CEO Jorge Carrasco

Seattle City Light CEO Jorge Carrasco Credit: powerlines.seattle.gov

Embattled City Light general manager and CEO Jorge Carrasco apologized on Thursday for saying that he had not asked Mayor Ed Murray for a raise when in fact he had.

Carrasco also said he takes full responsibility for a contract the utility entered into with a reputation management firm that partly focused on polishing his online image, and for giving a pair of con men access to a City Light scrap facility, enabling them to steal two truckloads of metal. The City Light chief did not indicate that he had any plans to resign.

In a recent interview with KIRO Radio, Carrasco said that he had not asked the mayor for a salary increase. The Mayor's Office later said that Carrasco had. "There's been a question about how I responded to whether or not I wanted a pay raise, or asked for a pay raise, and I will be the first to admit that I handled the issue poorly, and my answer was wrong."

"For all of these things I apologize," he said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon. Later, he added: "I was not trying to hide anything."

The City Light boss also said that he had told the mayor he had been approached about another "opportunity." He declined to specify what that opportunity was, but did say that it was not a job offer and that his preference all along was to stay in Seattle.

Referring to the contract with the online reputation management firm, Brand.com, Carrasco said: "It's been portrayed as if I were trying to burnish my image and that was not the intent."

"I don't make it a habit of Googling myself," he also said.

City Light is currently in the process of trying to get Brand.com to refund the $17,500 it spent on the contract.

At $245,000, Carrasco's salary is among the highest of any of the city's public employees. The Seattle City Council recently approved an increase in the pay range for his position, which would allow his annual salary to rise up to $364,481.

The mayor had said that he supported increasing Carrasco's pay to about $305,000. But on Wednesday Murray backtracked and said that there would be no raise for Carrasco. Instead the mayor said he would work with the City Council to come up with a new, independent process for determining the appropriate amount of compensation for the City Light job and other city positions.

Bill Lucia writes about Seattle City Hall and politics for Crosscut. He can be reached at bill.lucia@crosscut.com and you can follow him on Twitter @bill_lucia.


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Jul 3, 9:07 p.m. Inappropriate

Murray has done nothing but backtrack on various issues from the time he took office. His office should have thoroughly investigated Carrasco way before these stupid incidents happened, so that the "raise" would never have been proposed. Not to mention the Council, since they're the body that approved some level of raise. If Carrasco feels he's being underpaid, he should quit. One of the managers who actually do the work for which he praises himself would probably be happy to have his salary. It's getting really tiresome to hear public officials say "I didn't intend to lie" when it's obvious that the opposite is true.

sarah90

Posted Thu, Jul 3, 11:10 p.m. Inappropriate

The script now requires that Carrasco blame his addiction and check into rehab.

simorgh

Posted Fri, Jul 4, 7:27 a.m. Inappropriate

This article paints Carrasco in a better light than what I thought when I watched the tv interview. To me he came across as a narcissistic and egotistical little man barely choking back his outrage that he was even being questioned about these things and apologizing only because he knew he had to. This fits perfectly with my mental picture of him reacting to the con artists. He's just another one of these folks who are easily taken in by flattery and/or the perceived opportunity to make himself look magnanimous. It appears to me he was so anxious to look good that he completely ignored the most basic thing any thinking person would have done when so approached--invite these folks to his office and investigate their claims before giving permission for anything. So stupid. Just about what I'd expect.

Murray is off to a really bad start in many ways, but the fact that journalists had to bring out these stories to forestall Carrasco from being even more overpaid than he is already is just another pathetic example of Murray's unreadiness for the job. Murray should have been aware of these stories and never even proposed it. It appears he suffers from the same malady as everyone in Seattle political office--some deep seated inferiority complex that demands beggaring the hard-working citizens to overcome it. If ever there was a reason to choose a person to lead City Light that was willing to work harder for less, this is the justification--paying more doesn't necessarily get more competent people.

mspat

Posted Sat, Jul 5, 11:48 a.m. Inappropriate

Gary Zarker, City Light's previous long standing and visionary director who was replaced by Greg Nichols in a political move, should never have been removed; especially for this self-serving bureaucrat.

Posted Mon, Jul 7, 1:24 p.m. Inappropriate

I don't understand this comment at all. Anyone who followed local politics during the Nickels administration must remember that the Mayor was adamant in wanting Zarker to remain as head of City Light. It was the Council which defied him on this and decided it was time for new blood. You can follow some of the story with this link:
http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20030130&slug;=citylight30m

Posted Sun, Jul 6, 2:18 p.m. Inappropriate

After you outsource the entire utility to giant outfits like Quanta Services and operating companies like Potelco, and fire everyone in-house that knows anything, you have a lot more time and the extra dough for things like "image burnishing” and working for charities like the Gypsy Metallurgical Reclamation Society.

http://www.elp.com/articles/2014/01/seattle-city-light-picks-oracle-to-improve-customer-service.html

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2003488212_stormcontractors21m0.html

http://www.quantaservices.com/

jmrolls

Posted Sun, Jul 6, 5:42 p.m. Inappropriate

Carrasco: "There's been a question about how I responded to whether or not I wanted a pay raise, or asked for a pay raise, and I will be the first to admit that I handled the issue poorly, and my answer was wrong."

He should have said, "My answer was a lie."

Carrasco: "I was not trying to hide anything."

The man is a liar.

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