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Tensions high during HART board meeting amid investigation into work environment

The tension between some board members and CEO Adelee Le Grand was on full display.

TAMPA, Fla. — Sparks were flying during the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit board meeting on Monday.

HART’s CEO is under investigation for what some have called mismanagement and creating a toxic work environment.

Although that ongoing outside probe was not specifically mentioned specifically, the tension between some board members and CEO Adelee Le Grand was on full display.

“Seeing what has been done and noting that. Us understanding that...I don’t see this as a threat,” said HART board member Pat Kemp.

But it sure might have felt like a threat.

Kemp had not-so-subtly criticized Le Grand while discussing a peer review she tried to share with board members.

At the board’s direction, many months before, Le Grand engaged the American Public Transportation Association to perform a three-point peer review.

The review saved HART money versus bringing in a consultant.

Le Grand had even taken steps to implement several of the review panel’s recommendations.

Despite that initiative, some of those who’ve previously criticized the CEO found fault with her actions. Moreover, board member Joshua Wostal seemed to suggest the report’s cited shortcomings were directed at Le Grand.

“This particular peer review is pointing to new management,” said Wostal. “Specifically, staff feels demoralized that new management, not old management.”

That criticism had APTA’s Chief Operating Officer David Carol, who’d phoned in to answer any board members’ questions, coming to Le Grand’s defense.

Carol set the record straight, saying APTA’s peer review was a look back – addressing previous leadership at HART.

“It was not intended to be an evaluation of where Ms. Le Grand stood vis-à-vis the employees," said Carol.

Le Grand took the hits but fired back at the insinuation that she had intentionally held back the peer report. She says board members simply never asked for a review of the findings.

“There was no value in me holding this from anyone deliberately,” she said.

Le Grand has said she welcomes the ongoing investigation into her leadership and contends she is making long-overdue changes at the beleaguered transit authority.

There were also some changes in leadership at HART‘s board of directors meeting.

Board members unanimously selected Tampa City Councilman Luis Vieira to chair the transit authority’s Board of Directors. Hillsborough County Commissioner Michael Owen was selected as vice chair.

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