Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says he will not give City Light CEO Jorge Carrasco a pay raise, citing “judgment” issues, including a contract aimed partly at boosting Carrasco’s online image.
Murray made the comments at a City Hall news conference Wednesday.
The Seattle City Council had authorized a pay increase of up to $119,000 for Carrasco, who currently makes $245,000. Murray’s office previously had said he was considering raising Carrasco’s pay by $60,000.
But at the news conference, Murray said he was not happy to learn about City Light’s deal with Brand.com. The utility spent $17,500 in public money on the contract, which was aimed heavily at altering Google search results for Carrasco’s name.
Murray also cited a copper theft scam that was first in the news last year. Both raised questions of “judgment and trust,” Murray said.
“At this time I am not willing to give the superintendent a raise,” Murray said, noting the issue had become “a political football.”
The final straw for the mayor may have been Carrasco’s bungled KIRO radio interview last week. In that interview, Carrasco claimed he had not asked for a pay raise. But after reporters asked the mayor’s office to verify that, causing a series of non-answers, City Light’s press office acknowledged that Carrasco had indeed pursued a salary increase.
In an interview Wednesday, Murray called Carrasco’s comments “a misrepresentation” of their conversations about the pay issue. Murray said Carrasco had indeed sought a raise and had indicated he was looking at “other job options.”
Murray said he was not looking to replace Carrasco, but said during his news conference the City Light chief “may choose to stay or leave.”
If Carrasco does quit, Murray said the city likely would be unable to attract a qualified replacement — even at the higher salary authorized by the council.
Carrasco and a City Light spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Murray said he’ll ask for an independent study to recommend an appropriate salary for the position and to study performance measures for City Light. He said he’ll work with the City Council to possibly create an independent salary-setting commission.