Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 18, 2013

Interim leader to Traverse City utility: Hire me now

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The interim executive director of Traverse City Light & Power will ask his board to forego a search and remove the interim tag from his title.

Tim Arends said this week he will seek a motion on May 14 to rescind a previous board decision to conduct a regional or national search for a new executive director for the city-owned utility. The board took the vote Feb. 26 but has yet to initiate a search. Arends has served as both controller and interim director since the board fired former executive director Ed Rice in October.

“Doing two full-time jobs for six months is enough,” Arends said. “If it’s going to be me in the end, I need a controller. If it’s not going to be me, I need a director.”

City Commissioner Jim Carruthers, who also serves on the TCL&P board, said Arends likely has the votes he needs.

“I don’t think it’s quite right, but he’s taking advantage of his doing a good job,” Carruthers said of Arends’ work as interim director. “It’s a chess game and Arends is making his play.”

The February vote was split and one of the open-search supporters, Mike Coco, is no longer on the board. Arends needs to swing just one vote, if the former count still holds.

Arends said he’s not bringing it up now because the board’s makeup changed, but because the utility needs a full-time executive director.

“It’s been a long interim, and I’ve been able to handle some complex issues for the board and in general I think the board has been pleased,” Arends said.

City Commissioner Barbara Budros, who also serves on the TCL&P board, said Arends is doing a great job and his request makes sense with the uncertainty of the search process.

Carruthers won’t change his vote.

“We made promises to the citizens that we would open this up to other applicants,” Carruthers said.

The Michigan Land Use Institute, a local nonprofit agency that advocates for renewable energy, rallied public support for an open search and helped push the TCL&P vote in February. But the organization isn’t likely to press the issue again, said Hans Voss, MLUI executive director.

“The most important thing is that TCLP moves forward in a way that builds community consensus about the future of energy for the community and the environment,” Voss said. “We will take the long view and do our part to engage in constructive dialogue around energy in our town.”