Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Utilities stands by official who admitted ‘unwarranted privileges’

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2015 at 12:54 PM

Colorado Springs Utilities and authorities in New York are at odds over the veracity of allegations that Steven Kuhr ordered New York Office of Emergency Management personnel to clear a limb from his own driveway instead of working to clear a path for emergency vehicles elsewhere after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012.

Utilities hired Kuhr in August 2013.

We wrote about this a year ago and reported that Utilities spokesman Steve Berry said Utilities' own investigation of the incident showed "no validity" to the allegation, which was investigated by the New York State Inspector General's Office.

click to enlarge Here's Kuhr's signature from the document posted on a website of timesunion.com. - CAPITOL CONFIDENTIAL
  • Capitol Confidential
  • Here's Kuhr's signature from the document posted on a website of timesunion.com.
"All we know is based on our research, and we were not concerned ..." Berry said at that time. "So much of that environment after Hurricane Sandy was very political, and it's just the nature of New York politics." 

But now New York's Joint Commission on Public Ethics has imposed a $4,000 fine in an agreement in which Kuhr admits he violated the prohibition on state employees using their position to "secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself," as reported on May 26 by the timesunion.com blog, Capital Confidential. You can also read the agreement Kuhr signed at that site.

"Kuhr was summarily fired from his $153,000-per-year job after the Oct. 31, 2012, incident came to light," the blog reports.

Kuhr was hired by Utilities in August 2013 at an annual salary of $130,977 to run Utilities' emergency management and business continuity office.

Asked about the discrepancy between Utilities' investigative findings and that of the New York IG's Office, Berry says via email, "I stand by my quote from May 2014 as Steve has been a fantastic hire for us. The settlement doesn't change our understanding of the issue and what actually transpired. Beyond that, I'm unable to say more."

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