Metro's George Greanias on Escorts and the Reaction of the Board, Employees and the Mayor

Metro CEO George Greanias returned to work Monday after a one-week suspension for viewing adult Web sites on his laptop in the office, which uses the agency's wi-fi system.

We were allowed a brief interview, so here's ten questions with Greanias:

Hair Balls: How has the reaction from employees been? George Greanias: I think the employees were clearly not happy with what I did and they have every right to not be happy with what I did. That said, I've apologized for it, I'm going to be talking to employees the rest of this week including our bus operators, and what I've heard overall is 'You shouldn't have done it, it was a mistake, but you owned up to it and apologized for it. Now get back to work.' That's what I'm doing.

HB: In terms of others' reaction, did you think that Mayor Parker's support was somewhat weak, as some people have claimed? GG: No, I don't actually. The mayor's not my boss, it's the [Metro] board including the chairman and the other eight members who are my boss. They're the folks who need to make a decision on my employment here. That has always been the case and always will be the case. I think the mayor said she appointed five members in whom she has confidence and trust and she looked to them to do their job as board members, which I think they've done.

HB: The support of the board has been unanimous? GG: Yes. It's better than unanimous, I would take it a step further and say it's been surprisingly strong. And one reason I feel confident in my ability to perform as we have in the past year and three months is the support of the board. One of the strengths we have at Metro right now is a collaborative relationship between board and management and I think their confidence and trust in me -- I think they weren't pleased at what happened, as evidenced by the discipline they put in place, but I think they also wanted to say we've made a lot of progress over the last year and three months, we need to keep that going.

HB: Were any employees actually angry when you met them? GG: I'm sure there are employees who are very upset with me, I don't see how there couldn't be. But I have gotten a lot of e-mails of support...I was telling somebody, you really don't want to die to have people say good things about you, and you really don't want to go through this to have people say nice things about you, but I've been surprised and really a little bit humbled by what I've heard both from people inside the agency and outside. I think that was one of the unexpected things to me.

HB: One of the commenters on our item pulled out a quote from you criticizing Metro employees for playing pool during work hours. You said, "The fact that some employees...seem to feel that on duty time is to be spent recreating, when in fact that's not the case, is extremely troubling." Given what happened, do you think you will have a more difficult time making that argument? GG: No I don't, because we will continue to handle discipline the way that my case was handled, the way that all their cases were handled, which is in accordance with Metro policies and processes. And as long as you do that, I feel comfortable that if discipline is called for, we will do it. I also know that we bend over backwards to give our employees every opportunity to perform and mend their ways and we will continue to do that as well. If my case had been handled any differently then I'd say yes, there's a problem.

HB: Some of the sites you visited seemed to be escort services...can you say you've never broken the law in that regard? GG: Clearly what I did was a violation -- by visiting adult sites, it was clearly a violation of Metro policy and again board took appropriate action and I apologize for what I did and it was wrong. But I violated no law, broke no law, did nothing illegal.

HB: Right, in terms of visiting those sites. But if you had done something as a result of visiting those sites, in non-office hours, you'd still be breaking the law. GG: That's right. And again, I did nothing illegal.

HB: Okay - GG: I was thinking about going back to when I was a kid, but I don't want to go into that.

HB: No, I'd like to hear -- GG: No, no, it's not interesting at all.

HB: How about your family's reaction: Has dealing with that been very hard? GG: Being honest with my family is one of the reasons we have such a strong family. And I could not have asked for stronger support or love from my step-kids, and I must say both my mother and my mother-in-law were incredible in their support. [Note: Greanias is a widower.] I must imagine it was very difficult for them, but the way they responded was very touching.

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