METRO CEO suspended for viewing adult content

METRO announced Thursday that President and CEO George Greanias has been suspended one week without pay

July 28, 2011 5:50:27 PM PDT
METRO has a long history of public image problems, and the "New METRO" was supposed to turn things around. So it was quite a bombshell Thursday, when METRO announced they had to suspend their own president and CEO for looking at adult websites while at work.

The day began with a board meeting with President & CEO George Greanias at the table. Then came a private executive session, followed by a bombshell.

"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," said METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia.

The violation was for viewing and downloading adult content on his personal computer at work. But it was on METRO's Wi-Fi network. It was revealed when the system flagged an employee's usage.

According to METRO, the violations began in February and ended in July when Greanias was informed of the investigation. The agency says there were more than 60 accesses involving more than a dozen adult-oriented websites of a sexual nature through the METRO Internet System.

"We felt that George Greanias leads this organization and we felt that we needed to hold him to a higher standard. And that is why we took an approach to suspend him for one week without pay," said Garcia. "He asked me if he thought he should resign, and I told him he needs to make that determination on his own, but that he had my full support."

Greanias took over on an interim basis in May 2010 after former President and CEO Frank Wilson resigned over a scandal involving alleged misuse of money and document shredding. The interim tag was dropped last September.

It was Greanias, a former City Council member and controller, who coined the term the New METRO to separate it from the tenure of its ousted president.

The New METRO meant transparency and on Thursday, he sent a letter to METRO employees which read in part, "I made a mistake and I need to tell you about it. The violation was unintentional. I thought I was using my own computer, but it was in fact METRO's system -- but it was a violation all the same. The sites I accessed were of a sexual nature, to say the least, highly inappropriate and embarrassing."

He goes on to say, "I can only hope that when I return on August 8th, you'll give me the chance to prove through my actions I am the leader you can trust."

The agency says the penalty assessed is greater than normal for an employee's first time offense, and says that any subsequent violation could lead to more severe punishment, including termination.

The one-week suspension will cost Greanias about $4,500.

A spokesperson for Mayor Annise Parker told us she is aware and supportive of the board's decision.

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