Jennifer Loren, Oklahoma Impact Team
VINITA, Oklahoma -- The head of a state agency called it quits Wednesday, bringing mixed reactions from his fans and his critics.
Kevin Easley resigned as CEO of the Grand River Dam Authority, less than two months after our Oklahoma Impact Team investigation into Easley and his salary.
"Anybody in a position like this is going to make enemies and certainly I have," Easley has said.
Kevin Easley is no stranger to controversy and certainly his decision to leave the Grand River Dam Authority will have critics digging for dirt.
Shortly after taking office, Governor Mary Fallin asked the state auditor to do a performance audit of Easley and the GRDA, which is underway now.
But Easley told the GRDA Board this has nothing to do with the audit; he's resigning because of another job.
In a statement he says, "The opportunity I've been given to move into the private sector comes at a good time for me and my family, and I simply cannot turn it down."
But he stopped short of telling us where.
The Chairman of GRDA's Board, David Chernicky, told Oklahoma Impact's Jennifer Loren in a previous interview he'd like to hire Easley.
"I think it's a bargain. I'd pay him twice that if he'd come to work for me," Chernicky said at the time. Chairman:
In that interview, Chernicky was defending a $90,000 raise the board gave Easley for taking on a new position last year. But the raise was unannounced until we discovered it, and since then, one state lawmaker has asked the attorney general to look into the way it was handled.
"I think he owes the people of Oklahoma a lot of money," Representative Mike Reynolds said. "I think he owes the ratepayers of the Grand River Dam Authority a lot of money and I think he needs to resign his job or be removed."
Representative Mike Reynolds also called into question the way Easley got the CEO job in the first place.
Once a state senator, Easley authored a bill restructuring the GRDA's board, then left office to take over the agency's top job.
But other GRDA board members, like Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett, say through all the controversy, Easley should be credited with turning the state agency around.
"He did allow the GRDA to become a better managed institution," Bartlett said. "I think he's done a good job. And you know some people have a different view of things and that's their opinion."
Bartlett says Easley will receive no severance package with his resignation. His last day on the job will be June 1, 2011, then he'll take two months of accrued vacation.
Oklahoma Impact's Jennifer Loren talked with the auditor Wednesday who says Easley's resignation will not affect the audit which is in a very preliminary stage.
In other news Wednesday, the GRDA's Board of Directors approved a long-range plan that will reduce base electric rates to GRDA electric customers by 2 percent later this year, then return rates to December 2009 levels in July 2013.
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