Today's motion to suspend Adelee Le Grand was made by Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) Board Chair Pat Kemp after months of turmoil that saw over 57 administrative level employees leave or be fired from the agency. Former high ranking officials have alleged a toxic workplace and unethical behavior by Le Grand.
At the meeting, Kemp argued that for the investigation to be uncompromised by Le Grand still running the organization, she must be suspended during the proposed 60-day investigation.
"We have this incredible repeated turnover of key administration and management staff, we also have repeated allegations of a toxic workplace," Kemp said. "To conduct an independent investigation of this kind, suspension is the best practice. I don't see a reason to make an exception here."
Six board members voted yes for the suspension, while six voted no. A tied vote meant the motion to suspend Le Grand failed. Just before the vote, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor argued against Le Grand's suspension.
"I disagree, Chair Kemp," Castor said. "We brought Miss Le Grand in to right this organization, to provide leadership for it. And she has done a great job for the past two, almost two years, that she has been here."
Castor said she hadn't heard evidence of a hostile work environment, despite former employees saying it on the record, and a leaked resignation letter from Le Grand's fourth communications director that called Le Grand a "dictator and a tyrant."
What Castor said at today's meeting echoes what she said at a meeting last week, where she advised the board to not suspend or remove Le Grand. Castor used herself as an example, saying, "I've been involved in a lot of investigations in my lifetime."
Castor's defense of Le Grand happened on the same day that she accepted Police Chief Mary O'Connor's resignation. Castor requested the resignation after Creative Loafing Tampa Bay unearthed body camera video of O'Connor using her status to get out of a traffic stop. Earlier this year, Castor pushed for O'Connor to be police chief, despite a chorus of concern over O'Connor punching a cop during a 1995 DUI stop.
Currently, Tampa Police Department is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for its racially-biased crime free multi-housing program, which both Castor and O'Connor oversaw.
"With hesitation I go for suspension," Viera said.
County Commissioner Gwen Myers also voted for the suspension.
"We know that Miss Le Grand has come in and has met the requirements that this board have asked her to do," Myers said. "And at the same time, there have been some concerns from the employees who worked there."
"And now we as a board have let it get out of control somewhere," Myers said. "We didn't do anything when it was first brought to our attention, and now we're at a place today whether she she'll be suspended or remain in her job."
HART board directors who voted against suspending Le Grand include Mayor Castor, Gil Schisler, Rena Upshaw-Frazier, Melanie Williams and Tyler Hudson.
HART board directors who voted for Le Grand's suspension include Kemp, Myers, Viera, Marvin Ray Knight, Michael Owen, Joshua Wostal.