City Hall

Breaking: Environmental Director Mann Leaving City

By Erica C. Barnett January 29, 2010

Mike Mann, director of the city's Office of Sustainability, is resigning. In an email (titled, after a PubliCola headline speculating about his future at the city, "The Future of Mann") Mann—a longtime Greg Nickels loyalist— told colleagues,

I have had the great honor of serving Seattle residents for over 10 years and have had the privilege of working with each of you in that capacity.   From early efforts to provide replacement housing units for NewHolly to creating a new urban neighborhood in South Lake Union to my most recent position leading the Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE), I have been given a great opportunity to work with talented people like you, who care deeply about our environment, our community and our emerald city.  Working together with stakeholders and the excellent OSE staff, we have accomplished some signature achievements over the past two years. ...

I have a great sense of pride for our mutual accomplishments.

It's a new decade now, however, and the lure of a career creating a low-carbon economy outside of government is compelling.  We need to develop many more green solutions for our blue planet.  I am announcing today that I am leaving city government at the end of February.  There are green pastures outside of city hall, and I plan to pursue my passion for sustainability and environmental justice in those fields.  I look forward to crossing paths with many of you there.

Mann has not returned a call about why he is leaving the city and what his future plans are. Mayoral spokesman Mark Matassa says Mann "was not asked to leave." However, the tone of his email certainly contradicts statements he made to PubliCola last month, when he said, "I am thoroughly enjoying OSE."

Earlier this month, McGinn announced that he was seeking to eliminate or reclassify three of seven managerial and strategic-advisor positions at OSE—a possible prelude to a widely rumored reorganization in which sustainability functions will be distributed throughout city departments.

Matassa says McGinn has not found a replacement for Mann yet.

UPDATE: In an email this afternoon, McGinn announced Mann is leaving the city, and said he will be "work[ing] with the McGinn administration to craft a plan for a public-private partnership to lead the economic recovery through a retrofit agenda in Seattle."

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