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Employees coming, going at City Hall

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 by Jo Clifton

The city of Austin has lost two well-known employees in the last few days, including Mark Dreyfus, Austin Energy’s vice president of regulatory affairs and corporate communications.

According to a memo from Jeff Vice, AE director of local government relations, Dreyfus has retired “after nearly 19 years of dedicated service to Austin Energy.” But there was no party and no City Council recognition of his contributions to the utility. According to Vice, starting in 2010 Dreyfus “successfully led a two-year process to design and implement the utility’s first electric base rate increase and rate restructuring in 18 years.”

Asked for a comment, Dreyfus said, “I came to work every day of the last 19 years with only one objective, to protect the long-term viability of Austin Energy and all of Public Power. I am pleased to have played at least some role in our continued success.”

The Regulatory Affairs team will now be reporting to Chief of Staff Heather Bailey, according to Vice. The Corporate Communications staff will report to Vice President of Customer Energy Solutions Debbie Kimberly.

Former Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman, who has worked for District 2 Council Member Delia Garza for the past two years, has also left her City Hall job. The Austin Monitor could not reach Goodman for comment but heard that Goodman and Garza did not see eye to eye on CodeNEXT and other policy issues.

Garza sent the Monitor a statement that said in part, “As the City Council balances the opportunities and challenges that come with serving our constituents it’s critical that we have strong teams to best serve our districts and the City. As a Council Member, I appreciate and expect to hear different perspectives from my staff, but it’s equally important that my staff is united in the way that we advocate for and serve the Austin community as a team. I’m grateful for the decades of municipal experience Jackie has brought to my office and the years she has spent serving our City. While she will no longer be working as a member of my staff, I know she will continue to use her passion to serve the community we both love so much.”

Goodman, who served on the at-large Council for more than a decade, had initially planned to run for the District 2 seat in 2014, but decided not to run and supported Garza instead.

Kate Garza, also an aide to Council Member Garza, plans to leave City Hall at the end of June. She told the Monitor Tuesday that she is very excited to go to work for Ascension, the parent company of the Seton Healthcare Family, in July.

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo’s office is welcoming back a former employee, Shannon Halley, who left City Hall to take a job at Austin Water in 2017. She worked for Tovo for six years prior to moving over to the utility. She told the Monitor on Tuesday that she had really missed City Hall.

Joi Harden, who has worked as Tovo’s aide on zoning matters for several years, will be joining the Planning and Zoning Department sometime this summer as the division manager of an area called Current Planning, according to Assistant Director Jerry Rusthoven. When Rusthoven was promoted to acting assistant director, no one was promoted to take his spot. But since his position was made permanent several months ago, the department has asked Harden to join them.

Photo by John Flynn.

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