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Qwest 'over-ready' for DNC, chief exec says
Mueller: 3-year pact shows union, telco are partners
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Thursday, August 21, 2008

Qwest Communications is ready for the Democratic National Convention, and its top executive said he never thought a strike would disrupt operations.

"You betcha -- we're over-ready," Qwest CEO Ed Mueller said Wednesday.  The Denver telco is the official telecommunications provider for the DNC and Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Mueller cited the contract negotiations that resulted in a tentative three-year agreement early Monday as another example of the union and company working together.

He described the DNC as an ancillary issue that "others made more about than we have.  I thought we'd get (the contract) settled.  I don't think we were ever in jeopardy."

Mueller's comments came in an interview to announce changes in the company's executive team, moves he said will help the telco become more focused, efficient and entrepreneurial.

He wouldn't say exactly how much Qwest has spent so far to get ready for the DNC, but indicated the company was close to spending its pledge of up to $6 million.

Mueller said the Pepsi Center and Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul offered similar challenges, while outfitting Invesco Field for Barack Obama's acceptance speech wasn't as difficult as it might have been because the company already had "great facilities" there.

He said he and Qwest will host several events at the DNC including a CEO roundtable and a meeting with "grass- roots" delegates.

The executive moves eliminate one executive vice president position, while promoting from within and shifting responsibilities of several others.

Several moves were made by Tom Richards, the company's new chief operating officer and former executive vice president of the business markets group.

Richards noted the consumer group is "fighting some tough headwinds and we believe we needed a fresh set of eyes."  Qwest has been losing primary land lines at an annual rate of about 9 percent and its high-speed Internet subscriber growth is slowing.

One job is still to be acted on:  chief financial officer.  Mueller said Qwest is close -- "I'd say the ninth inning" -- to naming a new CFO to replace retiring John Richardson.

Changes at the top

*  Teresa Taylor, previously executive vice president and chief administrative officer, has been named executive vice president of business markets group.

*  Dan Yost, previously executive vice president for product and IT, is now executive vice president of mass markets.

*  Neil Cox, previously a national sales vice president, has been promoted to executive vice president of product and IT.

*  Rich Baer, general counsel and executive vice president, will now also serve as chief administrative officer.

*  Paula Kruger, previously executive vice president of mass markets, is leaving the company.