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Ott tells Council that Weis is his choice to run Austin Energy

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 by Michelle Jimenez

City Manager Marc Ott has decided Larry Weis is the best fit to become Austin Energy’s next general manager.


He told City Council members and others in e-mail late Friday, “I have concluded that Larry Weis, from the Turlock Irrigation District, is the best fit for Austin.’ David Wright, general manager of the City of Riverside (Calif.) Public Utilities, was the other finalist.


“The next step I’ll take to confirm this conclusion is to take a delegation of community members with me to Turlock to meet with Larry and members of his community,” Ott wrote in the e-mail. “This last action will verify the ‘fit’ that I spoke of earlier and will complete my evaluation process.”


Ott went on to say that he didn’t expect to find any surprises in Turlock, “but this level of due diligence is certainly necessary for this critical position.”


Sources said Ott is scheduled to fly to California on Wednesday to visit Turlock, but it was unclear late Monday night how long he plans to stay.


Council Member Bill Spelman told In Fact Daily that he last spoke with Ott on Friday, before he received the e-mail. At the time, Ott’s plan was to visit the utility districts headed by both finalists.


“He wanted me to know he was going to bring some people from the environmental community and from the business community,” Spelman said. “I would presume there would be people who were on the two groups who interviewed the candidates privately while they were both out here the week before last.”


Weis and Wright were in Austin on June 30 and July 1 for interviews with city staff and members representing the environmental and business communities on separate panels. During their visit the candidates also introduced themselves to the community at-large during a public forum.


In the e-mail, Ott said staff had had several additional contacts with the finalists since the interviews, to follow up on concerns and to ask for clarification on some issues.


Spelman said he hopes that the group headed to Turlock will have an opportunity to talk with employees there and local interest groups so they can get a sense of the extent to which the political situation in Turlock resembles that of Austin.


“This should not be a ratification trip,” Spelman said. “This should still be a fact-finding trip.”


Other city officials could not be reached for comment Monday night.


If selected, Weis would take the general manager position at the city-owned electric utility previously held by Roger Duncan, who retired at the end of February.

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