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Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
Houston METRO Board of Directors
by Jim Guidry
Thursday, July 28, 2011

Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County Chair Gilbert Garcia today announced that METRO President and CEO George Greanias has been suspended for one week, without pay, effective immediately, for violation of METRO policies on the use of electronic communications - specifically to access "adult content" on the Internet. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer  News Release

In a news conference after the meeting, Garcia said that the disciplinary action followed a METRO investigation that concluded that Greanias  accessed more than one dozen adult-oriented sites of a sexual nature, using his own computer but connected to the Internet through the METRO Wi-Fi system. Listen: MP3

"The access violations occurred on 14 days from February 9, 2011 to July 1, 2011," Garcia said, noting that normally, the disciplinary action for such a violation is a verbal reprimand, but because Greanias is the head of the organization, the punishment should be more severe.

“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," Garcia said, adding that he will continue to support Greanias. "However, George must be held accountable and the community must have confidence that the New METRO will be open and transparent.”

Garcia said that Greanias supports the decision of the METRO board, "He said he made a terrible mistake and he’s embarrassed."

At its regular meeting, the METRO board voted unanimously to approve a grade separation for the East End METRORail Line so that Harrisburg Street and the light rail will go beneath the railroad crossing at that location, rather than over it. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer

Burt Ballanfant, who made the motion for “a significant betterment to our East End METRORail Line” said the change in the project includes an agreement by Houston Mayor Annise Parker and the City of Houston to:

  • Provide $20.6 million in financial support;
  • To provide support in negotiations with the railroads; and
  • To collaborate further to identify additional stakeholders and funding partners.

“There was a great deal of work on this,” said METRO Chair Gilbert Garcia.  “A great deal of sacrifice on council members giving up projects in their districts, on the mayor given very tough times, on METRO absorbing some of the cost overruns.”

“What we are talking about here is a traffic project,” noted Christof Spieler.  “The light rail is going to be grade-separated regardless.  What this additional money is paying for is the ability to grade-separate the roadway, as well as light rail.”

The board unanimously approved a modification to the Houston Rapid Transit contract in an amount not to exceed $3.347 million for City of Houston betterments.

“METRO is currently expanding the already successful METRORail System to serve additional areas within the city,” said a staff report.  “Much of the city’s infrastructure is being removed and replaced in the process and, as the METRORail expansion project advances, there are opportunities to improve the city’s infrastructure which are beyond the scope of work.”

All other agenda items were approved.  All votes were unanimous, except that Ballanfant and Carrin Patman abstained on the approval of a modification to the Motiva Diesel fuel contract to increase the "not to exceed" amount from $37,695,800 to $44,363,500. Agenda

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