HART board seeks independent investigation into alleged management issues at Hillsborough's transit agency

CEO Adelee Le Grand said the investigation should be handled by the HART Board, as opposed to independently.

click to enlarge HART CEO Adelee Le Grand addresses the transit agency's board as it discusses an independent investigation into the organization. - HART
HART CEO Adelee Le Grand addresses the transit agency's board as it discusses an independent investigation into the organization.
Today, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit  board said the agency will consider an independent investigation into management issues with the CEO.

The announcement comes after Creative Loafing Tampa Bay revealed that over 50 administrative level employees have left the agency recently, many alleging a toxic workplace. And last week, it was found that HART concealed a document which accused CEO Adelee Le Grand of being a "dictator and tyrant." Ten days ago, Le Grand suddenly terminated seven more high-ranking staff.

During a HART committee meeting, Chair Pat Kemp said the board tried to schedule an emergency meeting for today, but that there's a seven-day requirement for the public to be notified. Instead, another meeting to discuss the details of the investigation will be scheduled.
"I wanted to let board members and the public know that the Board of HART takes very seriously the management issues that we've been hearing and reading about," Kemp said. "I've been in discussion with our General Counsel David Smith about what course of action that we should take, and he's here virtually today and will explain to the committee and the public what's going to happen next."

Smith said that he's working with HART board members to organize an investigation as quickly as possible.

"When I was tasked with doing this to determine how we would proceed from here, I communicated in the interim with both the CEO and the board," Smith said.

Smith added that the group decided to propose the investigation be handled by outside, independent counsel.
During the meeting, an emotional Le Grand said that she agrees to the investigation, but preferred an investigation by the HART board—as opposed to an outside investigation.

"I met with HART's attorney and we talked about discussing an outside third party investigation for this issue, so we're moving in the same direction," Le Grand said. "But I believe an investigation that's led by the board will take it to a higher level. And I believe that is what we need."

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, who sits on HART's board, said that the investigation should get moving forward as quickly as possible.

"This is a very important issue, you know, to ensure that we get an investigation moving forward for our community and in fairness to Miss Le Grand as well," Castor said.

After a motion from Castor, the board voted unanimously to hold a special meeting on Nov. 29 or 30, if the board has enough members available for quorum. If those days don't work, the board will discuss the item for the next official board meeting on Dec. 5.

Also during the meeting, an anonymous letter was read, claiming that employees are exploring the options of legal representation and filing individual state ethics complaints regarding unfair employment practices.

The letter referenced "important, accurate reporting of how Le Grand behaves in the workplace" and a memo that was sent from Le Grand to employees late at night after CL reported on her former communication director's claims against her.

During her brief remarks at the meeting, Le Grand said that the public deserves transparency and to know that HART operates "beyond reproach."
She referenced the fact that her Chief Customer Experience Officer Teri Wright had worked a second job in New Orleans, which the Tampa Bay Times reported. Le Grand said that Wright "violated my trust in a way I didn't even know  was possible." However, several sources inside HART say that Le Grand knew Wright was working two jobs at once, but wanted her to stay to help manage the agency.

Le Grand also addressed the high turnover at the organization, and the alleged problems with morale due to her behavior.

"I am committed to being a transparent and accountable leader to the organization," Le Grand said. "I want to make sure we offer the highest level of customer service while creating a positive work environment. I'm sure in the coming days you'll decide on the scope of your investigation."

About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia previously wrote for the USA Today Network, The Economic Hardship Reporting Project, Scalawag Magazine, and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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