CEO of Detroit’s Public Lighting Authority resigns

The Detroit News

Detroit — The CEO of the Public Lighting Authority, which aims to fix the city’s longstanding street lighting problem, has resigned, officials announced Wednesday.

In a Public Lighting Authority release, Odis Jones lays out successes during his tenure, which began in 2013, and writes “it is time to pursue other opportunities that have come up.”

“When I returned to my hometown to take over the Public Lighting Authority, I took on the challenge because I wanted to make a contribution to Detroit’s rebirth,” he said. “At that time, more than 40 percent of the city’s lights were inoperable and repairs to broken lights could take months or even years.”

Jones said more than 60,000 energy efficient LED lights have been installed in neighborhoods and main thoroughfares.

“What’s more, once we install the new lights, we are keeping those lights on,” he said. “With the job of relighting the city 98 percent complete, I have decided it is time to pursue other opportunities that have come up.”

In November, Jones’ contract was extended indefinitely and he was awarded a bonus totaling $20,000 for outstanding achievement.

Calls to the Public Lighting Authority were not returned Wednesday afternoon. A telephone call and text message to Mayor Mike Duggan’s Office also were not returned Wednesday.

In the statement, Duggan and lighting authority board Chairwoman Lorna Thomas acknowledged Jones’ efforts in tackling lighting issues.

“Under Odis Jones’ leadership, the PLA has installed new lights in every neighborhood in the city, and they’re twice as bright as the old ones. The new lights also will last longer and are far more energy-efficient,” Duggan said. “That means the city will realize substantial savings in operating costs well into the future. He has served Detroit well and we wish him well as he moves to other challenges.”

Thomas added that Jones “has brought order out of chaos with the city’s streetlights and has created an effective solution to an issue that has plagued the city for decades. As a board, we are proud of Odis’ tremendous accomplishments and we wish him well as he moves to new challenges.”

The installation of streetlights citywide, which began in February 2014, is ahead of schedule. Work on the eight major thoroughfares will be completed by the end of this year.

Before the PLA started its work, approximately 40 percent of the streetlights in Detroit didn’t work.

The Public Lighting Authority is a state-created organization. It is a separate legal entity from the city of Detroit. The authority is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the mayor and the City Council. All five board members are residents of Detroit.

Jones, a native Detroiter, was economic development director in Cincinnati before taking the Detroit post. He had been responsible for leading efforts to attract investment to the Ohio city as well as leading the development and implementation of a bond program projected to attract $120 million in new investment in neighborhoods.

Before that, he was director of Urban & Site Development for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority; president of the Columbus, Ohio, Urban Growth Corp.; and city manager for several Midwest cities.

He grew up on Detroit’s east side, graduated from Osborn High School then earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in public administration from Western Michigan University.

When Jones was tapped to lead the Public Lighting Authority in 2013, members cited his local ties.

“We had some wonderful candidates from around the country, (but) we needed a Detroiter,” Maureen Stapleton, then the authority’s chair, told The Detroit News at the time.

Detroit News Staff Writers Louis Aguilar and Christine Ferretti contributed.