The Seattle Weekly Story That Really Pissed Off City Light's Jorge Carrasco

As The Seattle Times is reporting today, the consulting firm that City Light hired to beef up Jorge Carrasco’s reputation “placed an obsessive focus on sanitizing Google search results about Carrasco.”

But what most irked City Light’s top dog was a critical article in Seattle Weekly by Aimee Curl from six years ago, titled “Short Fuse: Jorge Carraso’s Polarizing Tenure at the Top of City Light.”

As late as last month, the Times reports, “Carassco and a top aide were exploring whether they could get the piece expunged from Google entirely.”

Some highlights from the Weekly story:

- The [unsolicited] e-mail charged the city’s electric utility, Seattle City Light, with repeatedly awarding contracts to a local company called Lands Energy and, “after spending large amounts of public money,” contracting with consultants from this firm to occupy leadership positions at the agency normally held by City Light employees.

- After receiving a copy [of the e-mail], Superintendent Jorge Carrasco promptly called his power management staff— about 20 people who deal directly with the Lands Energy contracts and their consultants—into the executive boardroom. He handed out the e-mail and explained that there was no City Light employee with that name. (He’d also sent an e-mail to the City Council saying Cor’s concerns were without merit.) What followed was the kind of verbal dressing-down Carrasco has become known for in the utility’s ranks. “We were all given the third degree, told we had no right to go over their heads,” remembers one employee. “Everyone turned red and looked at the ground.” That is, everyone but Philip Irvin, a power analyst with 29 years’ tenure. But [City Light power analyst Philip] Irvin says the superintendent was “excessively assertive.” “He was upset,” says Irvin.

- “In the worst-case scenario, a grand total of one person there was guilty of sending the memo, but he was like that to all of us. People were reluctant to speak up and get their head shot off.”

- Steve Church, former director of City Light’s north electrical services division, says there’s been a lot of anger, hurt, and bewilderment at the utility since Carrasco took over. “It’s not a pretty picture, not a happy place from anybody I’ve talked to,” says Church. “It’s a shame because it used to be. There are a lot of people that really care, put a lot of their time and energy into it. There’s an intense loyalty to the utility, and they’re trying to stomp that out for some reason.”

- Carrasco has “definitely been hostile to some employees, particularly long-serving employees who have spoken out in the past,” says Denise Krownbell, a senior environmental analyst who’s worked for the utility since 2000. “You’d expect a superintendent not to lose his cool, but he has—in a public forum—several times.”

Click here to read the entire Weekly article.

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