SEATTLE — Seattle City Light CEO Jorge Carrasco issued a public apology Thursday to the people of Seattle, the City Council, the mayor and the utility’s employees over a $120,000 copper theft scam and giving the “wrong answer” when he said he had not asked for a pay raise.
On April 23, two people contacted the utility claiming they were from the Cherokee Nation and were seeking a small amount of scrap copper for a nonprofit that assisted disabled children. Carrasco gave his approval, but a City Light employee or employees let them into the South Service Center and they left with about 40,000 pounds of insulated scrap copper wire on four wooden pallets — worth about $120,000.
Carrasco also recently came under fire for using public money to hire an online marking company, Brand.com, to enhance his reputation on the Internet.
“I take full responsibility for the mistakes that led to some con artists stealing copper wire from the utility and for the Brand.com contract,” Carrasco said in a message to the utility’s employees. “I want you to know that I am committed to making sure these types of things never happen again. I’m terribly sorry that all of our accomplishments have been overshadowed by these mistakes and the issue of my salary.
“I want you to know that I respect the mayor’s decision regarding my pay raise.”
The Seattle City Council had recently voted to allow the mayor the ability to give Carrasco a raise of up to $120,000 more per year. Such a pay hike would have increased his overall compensation to $364,000 per year. Carrasco, when asked about the raise, at first said he did not ask for a pay increase. But later he revised that, saying he did ask the mayor to increase his pay.
As a result, Murray announced he would not be giving Carrasco a pay raise.
“I handled the question about this issue poorly and my answer was wrong,” Carrasco said in his message Thursday. “The fact is, I did expect my compensation to be adjusted as a result of the City Council action increasing the pay band and I did ask the Mayor to raise my salary. I had also been approached about another opportunity. I shared this with the Mayor privately. I did not want him to learn of it from a third party or think I did not want to be part of his administration. I made it clear that my preference is to stay in Seattle and continue to build on the utility’s success.
“For all of these issues, I want to apologize to the people of Seattle, the City Council, Mayor Murray, and to each of you.”
He later said in his message, “My commitment moving forward is to work hard every day to earn your trust, and the trust of the people we serve.”