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Why ‘Earthquake lady’ Lucy Jones isn’t working for Riverside after all

By in Press Enterprise on February 6, 2018

By Ryan Hagen

There’s been a shakeup in Riverside’s earthquake preparation plans.

Riverside Public Utilities signed a 90-day, $45,000, contract with “earthquake lady” Lucy Jones in November. The deal called for a series of public meetings, a conversation at Riverside’s TV station and behind-the-scenes work with utilities officials over the following three months.

The first of those obligations, a meeting at which utilities leaders tried to convince the City Council to approve higher water and electric rates — in part so they will be better prepared for a major earthquake — is the only one she met.

That Nov. 28 meeting ended with the council refusing to approve the rate increase. And Jones, who said during the meeting that she had signed her contract “two hours” before, was criticized by several members of the public and the council for “scare tactics.” After receiving more information, the council voted 5-2 in January to approve the same rate plan.

Shortly after, leaders of Riverside Public Utilities and the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society agreed to end the contract. Though the contract entitled the center to $15,000 at the start of the project and another $30,000 by the time it ended, no money changed hands.

The split was amicable on both sides, and Jones might be involved in future earthquake preparation in Riverside, which would be city-wide rather than focused on utilities, said Todd Jorgenson, the utility’s interim general manager.

Jorgenson said he wasn’t involved in either the hiring of Jones — who retired from the U.S. Geological Survey and was a television staple after a quake — or the decision to end her contract.

“My predecessor was involved in it, and I don’t know if anyone involved is still here,” Jorgenson said.

The utilities’ general manager and assistant general manager both announced in December […]    

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