METRO CEO George Greanias Returns To Work
August 9, 2011

I was off on Monday, so I’m a little late posting this update.

By now you know that METRO CEO George Greanias has returned to work after serving a one week suspension for violating the agency’s electronic communications policy.

I’m posting the full text of the letter he sent to employees of  METRO.

Statement of METRO President & CEO George Greanias

I want to address my recent suspension and the embarrassing and difficult situation I brought upon myself.  Let me start by saying that I am ready to get back to work today. My mission is to deliver the best transportation system in America for our riders, taxpayers, employees and all our citizens.

I made a terrible mistake by not only violating METRO policy, but also by letting down everyone in this agency and the public. There was no excuse for my behavior and I won’t offer one. I broke our policy and I broke trust with METRO employees and the public.  I am truly sorry and apologize to every METRO employee, every METRO board member, elected officials, stakeholders, every METRO rider and to the public.  I take full responsibility and have accepted my suspension without pay as appropriate and justified.

 The best way I know how to redeem myself is to deliver better transportation that provides easier commutes and helps build a stronger economy. That’s been my goal since I got here, and it remains my goal.   The hallmark values of the New METRO are transparency and accountability. We work every day to solve problems – and that includes acknowledging problems so that we can solve them.

 I am deeply saddened and embarrassed that I created a problem. My employers have acknowledged that and have been completely open and transparent with the public and the media.  I strongly support that.   They have imposed a punishment on me that is serious and appropriate. I also strongly support that – because leaders should be held to a high standard.

I want to be very clear that while I violated METRO’s policy, and I broke trust with METRO and the public, I did not break the law. I understand that breaking trust is just as serious, and I am dedicating myself to making amends for that. The issue here is not my personal life; the issue is my public job. I have accepted my punishment from the board and now I am ready to get back to work and focus on the transportation needs for our community.

Can METRO CEO George Greanias Survive Scandal?
August 1, 2011

By all accounts, METRO CEO George Greanias is a man whose judgement and character are highly regarded.

But many are asking whether his presence will be a distraction and embarrassment when he returns to METRO on Monday, August 8.

Last week Greanias was  suspended for  violating METRO’s electronic communications policy. He admitted using his personal computer to log onto adult content websites through METRO’s wi-fi network. 

Gilbert Garcia, METRO’s board chairman, says the board stands with Greanias. They want him back to help fulfill the transportation agency’s mission.

However, Bill King, former Kemah Mayor and transportation writer,  says Greanias should resign. 

Some community leaders have told me privately they are disappointed that the highest ranking official at METRO would make such a terrible mistake.

Mayor Parker has not commented publicly on the scandal, however, a spokesperson says the mayor is aware of the situation and supports the board.  Greanias was appointed by Mayor to lead METRO.

Mayor Parker stood with Greanias at a METRO news conference just a few days before the embarrassing revelation.  As long as Greanias maintains the support of Mayor Parker and the METRO board, which Parker appointed, we should expect to see Greanias back at work next week.

 

 

METRO CEO SUSPENDED ONE WEEK FOR VIOLATING COMPUTER POLICY

                       

 METRO President & CEO George Greanias has been suspended for one week, without pay, effective immediately. This disciplinary action followed a METRO investigation that concluded Mr. Greanias violated company guidelines on the use of electronic communications.

 

METRO’s investigation revealed that while on his personal computer, Mr. Greanias  accessed more than one dozen adult oriented sites of a sexual nature through the METRO Internet System. The access violations occurred on 14 days from February 9, 2011 to July 1, 2011.

 

Normally, the disciplinary action for such a violation is a verbal reprimand. Any subsequent violation could lead to more severe punishment, including termination. METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia has concluded that, as president and CEO, Mr. Greanias must be held to a higher standard, and decided instead of a warning Mr. Greanias would receive a more stringent punishment of one week suspension, without pay.

 

Mr. Garcia said, “George Greanias has done an excellent job in the past year and three months turning the agency around and improving transit services, morale, and community relations. However, George must be held accountable and the community must have confidence that the New METRO will be open and transparent.” METRO’s system to investigate this matter worked and there were no attempts to circumvent the procedures put in place to address the violation.      

 

In a letter to employees, Mr Greanias said he made a mistake. As for the punishment,

he said, “I agree with that judgment, and I accept it willingly.”

 

Greanias is scheduled to return to work as president and CEO on Monday, August 8th.

 

A True Houston Power Couple
November 18, 2010

Congratulations to Elaine Jefferson.  On Wednesday Elaine was appointed associate municipal court judge by Mayor Annise Parker and city council. 

Jefferson, formerly of the Greater Houston Partnership, will oversee traffic and docket cases.

Jefferson is the wife of  METRO board member Dwight Jefferson, who is also a former state district judge.

Both Elaine and Dwight are graduates of the University of  Texas School of  Law.

During the appointment confirmation at city hall, Mayor Parker said she was happy to see another member of the Jefferson family actively involved in service to the city.

Are METRO Troubles A Problem For Gov. Candidate Bill White?
September 9, 2010

One day after the Federal Transit Administration accused METRO of violating procurement procedures, Governor Rick Perry  tried to put the responsibility on former Houston Mayor Bill White.
 
White was in office and appointed the board chairman and most of its members during the time that METRO allegedly violated  federal law when it awarded contracts for two new rail lines.
 
Perry’s campaign today issued a new video called, “Bill White’s Houston METRO-gate.
 
You can watch the video at  a website set up by the Perry campaign:  www.liberalbill.com.
 
At issue is whether METRO violated the “Buy America” rules when it awarded the contracts to a Spanish rail company.
 
According to media reports,  White said he was not familiar with the details of  the report criticizing METRO or the alleged actions of the former board chairman and board members.

METRO Cleared In Allegations of Document Shredding
July 27, 2010

At the request of  Mayor Annise Parker in March, The Harris County District Attorney’s office launched an investigation into allegations that METRO officials illegally destroyed public documents.

The allegations were first raised in a lawsuit filed by Houston attorney Lloyd Kelley. He accused  METRO officials of shredding documents that he asked for in an open records request.  

The controversy surrounding the lawsuit, led to the termination of METRO general counsel Pauline Higgins and eventually the resignation of  METRO President Frank Wilson.  

Today, Tuesday, July 27, the DA’s office has issued a statement saying that it found no evidence of  criminal wrongdoing.   (statement from DA’s office) 

The Public Integrity Division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office completed its investigation into allegations that employees of METRO were destroying public documents and failing to comply with open records requests in violation of the Texas Public Information Act. From early March to the end of June, 2010, evidence was examined and witness testimony was developed, some with grand jury assistance. A careful analysis of all of this information led to the determination that there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by employees of METRO concerning the Texas Public Information Act, nor was there any evidence that any METRO employee had knowledge of the destruction of public records. The investigation has been closed.    

Mayor Parker Makes Her Picks For METRO Board
March 19, 2010

 Mayor Annise Parker Names Five New METRO Appointees/Releases METRO Transition Team Reports 

Mayor Parker has selected five new city appointees for the METRO Board of Directors.  They are:  Gilbert Garcia, Managing Partner, Davis Hamilton Jackson and Associates; Dwight Jefferson, Attorney at Law; Carrin Patman, Attorney Bracewell & Guiliani; Allen Dale Watson, Professional Engineer, CobbFendley; and Christof Spieler, Professional Engineer, Morris Architects.  “This is a diverse group of very talented and respected Houstonians,” said Mayor Parker.  “They can provide the leadership, transparency and accountability needed as we move to restore public trust in METRO.  This is a very critical time with difficult decisions ahead. I know this is the right group for the job.” 

 The mayor’s announcement follows a three-day trip to Washington during which she reiterated her strong support for the next phase of light rail.  It also comes just days after her METRO Transition Task Force presented its findings to her.  Five different subcommittees reviewed METRO’s finances, light rail plans, regional coordination, basic services and small business enterprise program.  “Although each subcommittee conducted its work independently, common themes emerged that confirm the need for new management at METRO,” said Parker.  “There are questions about the design and cost of rail expansion, communication issues, stakeholder frustration and a glaring need for a regional approach to mass transit.  We know there will be sufficient funding to build three new rail lines.  However, hurdles remain for funding a five line system.  I am committed to five lines, but we may need to proceed in phases.”  The Obama Administration’s budget proposal currently includes $900 million in federal funding for the North and Southeast Light Rail Lines.  The East End Line, the only line already under construction, and the Uptown Line are to be funded locally.  The University Line will also require federal funding.  The current best guess estimate of when that funding might be approved is 2014.  Mayor Parker’s recommended appointees are expected to be presented to City Council for confirmation April 7, in time for them to attend METRO’s April board meeting.   

    

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