Lott: Mismanagement prompts transit shakeup

ALBANY -- The director of the city's transit department has been reassigned by her boss at MV Operations after a city investigation revealed evidence of what City Manager Alfred Lott said was a disconnect between the director and her subordinates.

Nedra Woodyatt has been reassigned away from her position as director of the Albany Transit System, Lott confirmed Wednesday. Lee Burner, a former maintenance specialist from Los Angeles, has been named as interim director.

The shakeup comes after a city-run investigation revealed that there were questionable management practices undertaken at ATS -- specifically in operational leadership and maintenance management, Lott said.

"We noticed that there was a lack of enthusiasm, intensity and attention to detail in the department and found problems with a lack of supervision and leadership between the director and supervisor," Lott said.

The investigation was launched after the city received an anonymous complaint about issues with ATS. Although most of the allegations in the complaint were unfounded, city officials say that their investigation did support allegations of lack of leadership and revealed that there were often communication problems between the director's office and line staff.

The investigation also revealed that proper documentation of maintenance records was not being kept. Requests for maintenance of city buses were apparently being made verbally, but the follow-up documentation was not sufficient, the investigative report shows.

The investigation revealed at least two instances where supervisors had clocked in employees before they had actually arrived at work.

Although each case had extenuating circumstances, supervisors were strongly advised to end the practice immediately, Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said.

Woodyatt is not a city employee. Rather, she is employed by MV Transportation Inc., a Charlotte, N.C.-based company that has a contract to provide transit service for the city of Albany.

In a letter to MV Transportation Vice President Thomas Stringer Jr. dated Dec. 17, Lott writes that the city continues to have concerns with the leadership at ATS and that "it is our expectation that MV Transportation will provide the leadership and skills to resolve the concerns presented and discussed or the City of Albany will proceed with contract termination."

MV Transportation's contract is up for renewal in roughly six months, Lott said.

Lott denied accusations that Woodyatt's removal as transit director was the result of her performance as project manager for a proposed multimodal transit system currently in the planning stages with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

That project was delayed after complaints were lodged by John Sherman -- a local property owner whose buildings on Washington Street will be affected by the development -- with federal authorities contending that GDOT and the city had failed to conduct a proper environmental assessment.

"I had no problem of any significance with Mrs. Woodyatt's participation in this project," Lott said. "And contrary to some reports, that's not the reason for her reassignment. Her management of that project was acceptable."

David Hamilton was named project manager for that project before

Woodyatt was reassigned, Smith said.