(Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted in 2010. Please read here for an update about City Light’s contact voltage testing program in 2021).
No Records for Faulty Streetlight
Today the seattlepi.com reported that Seattle has “no records” for the inspection of the faulty streetlight that electrocuted Lisa McKibbin’s dog Sammy on Thanksgiving Day on Queen Anne Avenue. The article also revealed several discrepancies in the city’s response to Sammy’s death.
In seattlepi.com’s article last week, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) spokesman Richard Sheridan said that “the project didn’t sound like something for which the department would issue a permit”.
He said he was “less clear on inspections” and deferred questions back to Seattle City Light (SCL).
Lots of Finger Pointing, but No Answers
Sheridan said that last July, “SDOT began requiring inspectors of private-public improvement projects to document inspections in a field report” because up until then SDOT did not keep written records of these inspections.
But last week Sheridan said he didn’t know if SDOT was responsible for inspecting the work on the streetlights. Instead he tried to shift the responsibility to SCL.
This week, after prodding from a reporter, he said SDOT in fact DOES oversee these inspections. But he still didn’t clarify who was responsible for issuing the permit.
Last week, a SCL spokesperson said, “the city’s Department of Transportation was in charge of the permitting and inspection process.”
Today, seattlepi.com reported that SCL will “take over the initial inspection of streetlights in such projects.”
Seattle City Light Takes Over Streetlight Inspections
Hartman said that “the change has been in the works for a while”, and that it makes sense, because “the utility already has responsibility for public streetlights.”
Why did Hartman withhold this information for 2 weeks?
She had numerous opportunities to say this, including when she spoke at a meeting of the Queen Anne Community Council last week.
SDOT and SCL knew more about the problems with the inspection process than they initially disclosed. Furthermore, it has now been almost 2 weeks since Sammy was killed; why don’t we know the answers to the following questions:
1. Was a permit issued for the privately installed streetlights on Queen Anne Avenue that electrocuted and killed Sammy?
2. If someone issued a permit, which agency approved the permit, and who at that agency signed off on the permit?
3. How can SCL Superintendent Jorge Carrasco call Sammy’s electrocution an “isolated incident” when SDOT, not SCL, had the responsibility for approving the work and there are NO WRITTEN RECORDS of any of these installations prior to July of this year?
4. How does SCL currently document inspections of public streetlights and how will it document inspections of private streetlights after the first of the year?
5. What has been done since Sammy’s electrocution to ensure that streetlight connections throughout the city were installed and inspected properly and pose no threat to public safety?
The public has the right to know the answers to these questions. When will we get them?