METRO CEO Frank Wilson resigns

METRO CEO Frank Wilson resigned Friday. Wilson had been plagued by allegations of improperly using public funds to further a relationship with an assistant and document shredding at the agency.
May 7, 2010 6:57:55 PM PDT
The man at the center of a scandal involving alleged misuse of money and document shredding is now out. METRO's President & CEO Frank Wilson resigned just hours ago.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker vowed to have him gone, and on Friday afternoon, Wilson stepped down from his position.

ABC 13 first reported the resignation, and since then, we have learned a lot more about Wilson's deal and what will happen next.

In the end, it wasn't those scandals that finally pushed Wilson out. It may have been the Mayor wanted him out, and she got her way.

But it didn't come cheaply for METRO. Wilson was owed more than $740,000 on his contract, but he agreed to take $500,000 to simply walk away in salary, vacation and moving expenses. It allows METRO to move on.

METRO this afternoon ended its six- year relationship with Wilson.

"We reached a mutual agreement," METRO board chair Gilbert Garcia said. "I think he worked very hard. I think he got us to this place, and I think we're ready for the next stage of METRO."

Wilson resigned with two years left on his contract. He gets a deal with more than half a million dollars to simply walk away with some dignity intact.

"It's a process of change and evolution and it's natural," Wilson said. "So I look at this as just sort of the way things progress."

Wilson's exit brings to an end months of speculation.

Mayor Annise Parker said during her campaign last year METRO needed new management and recently said Wilson's ouster was matter of when not if.

After Wilson's exit, she told us, "Now that a new board and chief executive are in place, I am committed to working hand in hand with the new leadership and the FTA to achieve the next phase of light rail in Houston."

There are outstanding questions of what all this will mean to METRO's deal with the Federal Transit Administration.

That agency is expected to hand over$ 900 million to build METRO's new rail lines, but the deal is currently hung up over questions of where the new rail cars will be built and financial details.

With that in doubt, the new interim boss, George Grenias, clearly doesn't have any time to waste.

"My job for as long as I hold this position, how long that may be, is increasing the transparency and the trustworthiness of this organization, getting these federal funds and start building these five rail lines," Grenias said, "any making sure that in the process, we maintain and expand the best possible bus system."

We've reported extensively on those allegations of document shredding, raised by Lloyd Kelley. The accusations are still being investigated by Harris County District Attorney's Office. We've also extensively reported on an investigation into whether Wilson used METRO money to further an alleged with his chief of staff, Joanne Wright.

Apparently, neither of those investigations came to cause to fire Wilson and pay him nothing. The deal on Friday mentioned no reason for his resignation.

It was the same situation that happened when former Mayor Bill White assumed office and replaced then-METRO CEO Shirley DiLibero with Wilson.


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