Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Some HART Board Members To Blame Too As Report Exposes HART Run Amuck On Their Watch: HART CEO Suspended With Pay But FL Inspector General Must Now Investigate HART!

At a special HART Board meeting on Monday, a damning report was presented from the investigation of HART CEO Adelee Le Grand. The report provided evidence of HART being run amuck by Le Grand.

As a result, the HART Board suspended Le Grand with pay until she has an opportunity to respond in May and a final decision about her will be made.

The video of the meeting can be found here

The presentation begins about 18 minutes into the video. The investigation identified three major issues they found with Le Grand: Lack of effective leadership, Poor organizational morale and Significant turnover.

Investigation findings state Le Grand was abusive, lacked leadership skills, punished those who disagreed with her, intentionally discouraged transparency, failed to perform her responsibilities, withheld information from the Board and handed out costly severance packages that may have violated state law regarding government employees.

The investigation appears to confirm allegations made that HART's work environment was toxic. 

This is a headline that appeared on MassTransitMag about Le Grand's focus on "diversity and inclusion" when Le Grand was hired. 

Former County Commissioner Mariella Smith, Chair of HART when Le Grand was hired, said (emphasis mine):
"It was evident to the entire board of directors that Ms. Le Grand will rebuild and revision HART by building trust through transparency and respect with employees, customers and the community," said Commissioner Mariella Smith, HART chair, Board of Directors. "As we look to the future, we're confident Ms. Le Grand is the right person to lead HART and create a long legacy of providing the highest level of service equitably and to openly drive Hillsborough County forward."
Where was the HART Board when none of these goals were being met? 

Smith and the rest of the HART Board members were out to lunch handing out big pay raises to top administrators with one-time COVID relief money. 

The HART Board handed Le Grand a $37K pay raise just one year into her job - during the pandemic - when the only accomplishment she had was being the highest paid CEO HART ever hired.

The HART Board went MIA because their priority was to get billions of new AFT transit tax dollars. 

Le Grand had her attorney with her at the meeting. What then occurred was Le Grand's attorney offered that Le Grand be suspended with pay until he had the opportunity to present her response.

While HART's attorney David Smith had recommended no action be taken yesterday, the evidence presented was too damning to not take some action. 

The HART Board passed a motion to suspend Le Grand with pay and Le Grand's attorney will provide her defense response by the beginning of May. At that time the Board will make a final decision about Le Grand's disposition.  

The HART Board also appointed a current Administrator Scott Drainville to be interim CEO.

Le Grand has due process and she will have her opportunity to defend herself against the allegations. 

But remember Le Grand had requested a settlement that included ending the investigation with no report ever being provided.

HART's fiscal mismanagement began before Le Grand. 

ABC Action News reported in March 2020 that HART spent over $500K on food and travel including hotel stays at the Waldorf Astoria, Four Seasons and the Ritz Carlton

HART's CEO prior to Le Grand, Ben Limmer, only lasted a year before he was under investigation for improper conduct, placed on suspension with pay, was fired and then allowed to resign with a settlement.

HART's interim CEO after Limmer left and before Le Grand was hired, Carolyn House Stewart, was paid $100K to resign after an investigation alleged she participated in “abuse, hostile, humiliating and bullying behaviors." 

The problems with HART go beyond just the CEO's hired. HART's problems go directly to the HART Board.

The HART Board failed to do their job. They are entrusted by taxpayers to provide proper governance, oversight and fiscal management of HART. They FAILED! 

The HART Board knew HART was going insolvent and neglected the issue. They were busy pushing unlawful AFT transit tax hikes to bail HART out. The HART Board spent irresponsibly as they set their eyes on billions of new tax dollars. 

How can the HART Board not be asking questions with headlines like below from last March? Did they want to hide how bad things are at HART because their priority was pushing to get billions of new AFT transit tax dollars?

Then suddenly after the AFT transit tax was defeated in November and with 2 new county commission Board members, the HART Board decides to launch an investigation into Le Grand.

Le Grand's fate will be decided in May.  

But the HART Board must not get a free pass. Their ignorance, incompetence and/or negligence cannot be tolerated . 

Especially after what was presented, the Florida Inspector General needs to investigate and audit HART's last 10 years of operations.

And the HART Board members who failed to properly govern HART should resign or be removed from their Board position.

1 comment:

  1. Great article Sharon. Many present and former board members should be exposed for what has transpired at HART over the years. Not only officials at HART, but other local elected officials and bureaucrats from all the cities, county and FDOT who have looked the other way while transportation planning in the area was nothing more then a charade. It started way before AFT, they were just the latest. I would like to see and audit of all transportation planning for the last 10 years. If we don’t and our officials don’t change the planning “road “or “track” we’re on, the various comprehensive plans will be just a joke. That is exactly how many of the elites want it. We the people will be forced to pay for it and that’s no joke