The Austin Chronicle

Naked City

Water Under the Bridge

By Robert Bryce, December 10, 1999, News

Mark Rose is leaving one mega-job for another. Rose, the general manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority, is quitting the job he's held since 1990 to take the helm at Public Strategies Inc., an Austin-based political consulting powerhouse.

The move is a coup for PSI, which was already one of the biggest players in state and federal politics. (Mark McKinnon, who is now directing the media effort for Gov. George W. Bush's presidential campaign, is a former PSI employee, as is Paul Begala, the former White House aide and current political pundit.) But what's the angle? Why would Rose leave a job that paid him $210,000 and gave him lots of clout? And why would he give up politics? A former member of the Austin City Council, Rose was widely believed to be considering a run for statewide office or for Congress.

By moving to PSI, Rose has apparently given up the idea of public office, and it appears that money helped him make up his mind. At PSI, where he will assume the title of president and CEO, Rose will be able to sell some of the expertise he gained at the LCRA to corporate clients. That expertise includes knowledge of the electric power business and the water marketing business, two areas that are being opened up to competition. Earlier this year, Rose engineered a deal in which LCRA sold the city of Austin on a $1 billion water sale contract. On the energy side, he expanded LCRA's electric power generation and marketing resources, increasing the agency's energy sales by some 40%. In addition, he created a program through which the LCRA began selling some of its excess electric power on the open market.

Sources close to the situation say that Rose will get a percentage of any new business he brings to PSI and that his compensation package could range from $500,000 to $1 million a year, depending on his ability to generate new clients. Rose's move into the private sector has many political wags talking. Said one, "Rose isn't really leaving the LCRA, it's just becoming a subsidiary of PSI."

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