The San Diego/Imperial Counties Labor Council just released a statement from its secretary/treasurer, Jerry Butkiewicz on his decision to take a position at Sempra. I’m still not quite sure what the position is. It involves the company’s workforce readiness program.

I am excited to open this new chapter in my life. In my time with the Labor Council, I have enjoyed working with companies to ensure that the needs of the region’s workforce are balanced with the needs of the business community.

Sempra Energy’s educational and training opportunities have consistently worked with underserved communities, in order to equip individuals with skills and attributes needed to successfully apply for craft-type jobs. I look forward to being a member of their team.

If Butkiewicz goes to work for Sempra as passionately as he did for the labor union, the utility just gained a heck of an asset. He’s already been a help to the company.

A few months ago, during an interview with Butkiewicz about the Gaylord project in Chula Vista, I asked him about his support of Sempra’s Sunrise Powerlink. The Powerlink is perhaps the utility’s most controversial project among environmentalists and Butkiewicz had become one of its most outspoken supporters. After Rob Davis wrote an insightful, in-depth piece about Powerlink Aug. 27, Butkiewicz and other prominent supporters immediately fired off letters expressing their support for the project.

On the other hand, Butkiewicz had been opposing the Gaylord project on the Chula Vista bay front because of, at least partly, its effects on the environment.

I wondered how he squared the two issues. Why were environmental concerns paramount when considering Gaylord, and yet the adamant opposition of environmentalists to the Sunrise Powerlink wasn’t enough to move him?

He said that, in the end, he needed to support workers and the region’s economy needed power and he hadn’t seen anything else that would provide it the way the Powerlink would.

His top advisor, Lorena Gonzalez, a long-time environmentalist, sat nearby shaking her head.

“She and I disagree on that one,” he said.

SCOTT LEWIS

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