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Grenias Out As CEO Of Houston METRO

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George Greanias, appointed to lead theMetropolitan Transit Authority in September 2010 after political squabbling and inefficiencies led to widespread criticism of the bus and train system, is resigning, a Metro spokeswoman confirmed Friday.

Greanias has stated his intent to resign from his position as president and chief executive officer, but a formal letter isn't expected until Monday, said spokeswoman Margaret O'Brien-Molina.

Metro's board of directors will discuss Greanias' departure Thursday. A closed session scheduled at the end of the board's monthly meeting includes "consideration of the resignation of the president and CEO," as well as consideration of a transition and consulting agreement with Greanias and appointment of an interim chief executive.

Neither Greanias nor Metro board chairman Gilbert Garcia returned calls late Friday, and board member Christof Spieler referred questions to Garcia.

Greanias, 64, a former Houston city councilman, city controller, management consultant and college professor, was named interim leader of Metro after heading a group of committees appointed by Mayor Annise Parker to study the transit agency in the summer of 2010. The appointment was made permanent a few months later.

At the time, Greanias was paid $235,000 per year with benefits. His appointment made him an at-will CEO, meaning the board could replace him without a guaranteed buyout.

Greanias took over an agency mired in problems related to the expansion of light rail. Greanias, who had no transit agency experience, was tasked with turning the agency around. His first step, he said in a recent speech to the Greater Houston Partnership, was to change Metro's internal culture.

"When I got there, the employees were afraid to raise their hands and make decisions," he said.

Frank Wilson, Greanias' predecessor, agreed to leave after months of rancor over the validity of the agency's rail efforts, and after scandals about money mismanagement and alleged document shredding worsened Metro's image.

Parker campaigned in 2009 on a platform to clean up Metro. She appointed five new members to the nine-member board, and the new board hired Greanias, who had deep ties to the city and once ran for mayor.

Parker's spokeswoman, Janice Evans, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Since 2010, Metro's finances have become more transparent and its image improved, Greanias said in the partnership speech.

"We couldn't be the same old Metro and achieve those goals," he said.

The agency is building three light rail lines to supplement its eight-year-old Main Street line and revamping bus service. Metro bus and rail lines provide around 370,000 trips daily. The agency also converted carpool lanes along local highways to toll lanes and recently celebrated the downtown rail line carrying its 95 millionth passenger.

Metro, and Greanias, faced challenges during his two-year tenure.

A few months after Greanias' appointment, federal transit officials froze a planned $900 million grant to help Metro build two light rail lines, saying the agency had violated "Buy America" laws in procuring new rail cars from a firm whose parent company is Spanish. Greanias and his staff canceled the contract and solicited new bids, The Federal Transit Authority approved the grants in November 2011.

Greanias was suspended without pay for a week in July 2011 after admitting that he viewed sexually explicit websites on his personal computer while at Metro headquarters, using the agency's Internet access.

Damn shame, he was really turning the agency around. I'd wager it has something to do with the recent GMP referendum. The wonderful pundits and analysts of the Chronicle's comments section said we need someone with "transportation experience" this next go round. Well, Shirley DeLibero and Frank Wilson had decades of transportation experience between them and we all know how that turned out. Let's see what comes of this.

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What METRO needs is a CEO (and a board) that is a cold-eyed realist about the physical and cultural makeup of this specific metropolitan area, about the amount of local, state, and federal revenue available for any and all modes of mass transit now and out at least 10 years given the requirements of other taxing entities in this specific metro area, and about what "walkable urbanism" means in the context of this specific metro area.

Rail-friendly Parker and Emmett seem to have had their come to Jesus epiphanies, which may be one reason Greanias quit - he knows he can't get done in his lifetime what METRO has already squandered hundreds of millions trying to do over the last decade.

The developers are still on board for inner loop trains, but they understand reality far better (or at least sooner) than the pols and bureaucrats - that reality is, the rail may come as a result of lots of separate TOD projects rather than as the infrastructure that spurs TOD.

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I can't imagine why he'd be out due to the referendum. METRO, the city, and most local politicians all got what they wanted. I just don't see the referendum as a reason why he'd be out.

Not what I said. Out for looking at porn but kept on through the referendum to ensure things went smoothly, is my theory.

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Got this in the e-mail yesterday:



METRO President and CEO, George Greanias has announced plans to resign from his post on December 31, 2012. Greanias has been leading the transit agency for the past two and half years. He was recruited as CEO after heading Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s METRO Transition Team. Greanias’ goals when he first took the job included reorganizing top management of the agency, getting METRO’s rail construction program back on track and securing $900 million in federal funding for the rail program. “Thanks to a talented and dedicated staff and support from the METRO Board, we have accomplished those major goals for METRO,” Greanias said. “Now is the right time for me to step down and create the next chapter in my career.”

Earlier this month at the Greater Houston Partnership’s “State of METRO” luncheon Greanias highlighted a long list of METRO accomplishments including:

· Resolving METRO’s “Buy America” issues

· Addressing Federal Transit Administration concerns over METRO procurements

· Placing the General Mobility Program on a pay-as-you go basis

· Fostering a culture of openness and transparency

METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia applauded Greanias accomplishments and looks forward to finding the next great leader for the agency. “George has done an outstanding job of turning things around at METRO and focusing on openness and transparency. We look forward to a smooth transition,” Garcia said. “The Board will meet on Thursday, December 20th, to discuss options for selecting an interim CEO and, ultimately, finding a new president and CEO.”

Greanias is a former Houston city councilmember, city controller and management consultant. He expressed great appreciation for the hard work of METRO’s 34-hundred employees and the community’s support for METRO. “One of my career highlights now includes my time at METRO and working with a talented group of people who work every day to provide the best transit services for this region,” Greanias said.

George Greanias Letter of Resignation.pdf

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Received this today:


METRO CEO Resignation Accepted by Board

George Greanias to consult with interim leadership as search begins for Authority’s new executive

The Board of Directors met today and voted to accept the resignation METRO President and CEO George Greanias effective December 31, 2012. Board members offered, and Greanias is agreeing to, a six month contract for his consulting services as the search for a new president and CEO begins. Chairman Gilbert Garcia and the METRO board took the opportunity to reflect on Greanias’ accomplishments during his two and a half years at the agency. “George took the job over at a very difficult time for METRO and we’ve come a long way. There was a real crisis of confidence and financial concerns. I think the turnaround here is one of the greatest things that has happened in our community,” said Garcia in acknowledging the agency’s progress.

Greanias was brought to METRO as CEO after leading Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s METRO Transition Team. Among his tasks upon first taking office was reorganizing METRO’s top management, securing $900 million in federal funding for the METRORail program and ensuring that the expansion program got back on track. During his tenure the organization also was able to resolve “Buy America” issues, address Federal Transit Administration concerns and place the General Mobility Program on a pay-as-you go basis. Greanias accomplished this while fostering a culture of openness and transparency, Garcia noted.

Greanias, a former Houston city councilmember, city controller and management consultant said the time is right for him to move on and noted his appreciation for the work of METRO’s 34-hundred staff members. “As much as I appreciate all the kind thoughts, and all these wonderful things about how wonderful I am, the reality of it is that I accomplished nothing. What I did is take an organization of talented, committed transit professionals, dedicated every day to doing the best possible job of moving people around the greater Houston region, and gave them the opportunity to do what they do best. That’s all I did.” Greanias said.

METRO Executive Vice President Thomas C. Lambert, who will serve as interim executive for the organization said, “My job is to make sure we are taking the next steps in moving the agency forward and making sure we’re meeting the expectations of the board and ultimately providing a very quality service to the community.” Lambert is a 34-year METRO veteran who was formerly the agency’s police chief and later chief administrative officer.

METRO board members each applauded Greanias’ service including Christof Spieler who reflected on the challenges met. “We really needed a great turnaround guy, and we got one,” said Spieler. He went on to thank Greanias for “indispensable service” remarking “It is not an understatement to say we would not have the three new rail lines without this transformative leader.”

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  • The title was changed to Grenias Out As CEO Of Houston METRO

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