Splendid? Bumbling former METRO police chief Tom Lambert gets permanent CEO gig

Image credit: Pixabay

The METRO board announced Thursday, with great hyperbole, that interim CEO (and former police chief) Tom Lambert would be getting the job permanently:

Board member Burt Ballanfant, who made the motion to open negotiations with Lambert, said the interim president had “done a splendid job.”

If by splendid, someone means that Lambert has shown himself to be a cut above Shirley DeLibero, the ineffectual (but world-class slick!) Frank “Procurement Disaster” Wilson, or George “Boy Porn Surfer” Greanias, then yes, we suppose the former bumbling police chief has been “splendid.”

Ongoing issues under Garcia/Spieler/Lambert-led METRO

Former METRO police chief Tom Lambert, now METRO CEO (photo courtesy of METRO)
Former METRO police chief Tom Lambert, now METRO CEO (photo courtesy of METRO)

On the other hand, in Lambert’s short time as interim CEO, METRO has seen two fairly significant procurement snafus (the signature downtown station fiasco, and ongoing issues getting trains for the expanded system — to be fair, this mess began under Frank Wilson, but predecessors cannot be blamed forever for ongoing problems), not to mention the revelation that METRO can’t collect tolls it is owed, and that the organization is “re-imagining” transit in a way that will create transit-deserts.


Perhaps “splendid” means that Gilbert Garcia and Christof Spieler, who haven’t especially proven themselves qualified to run a large transit agency, will nevertheless continue to run the show through Lambert (who, in likely contrast with any transit professional, probably will be just fine with that).

Trial balloon to kill search floated in December; METRO still has to pay

The Chronicle’s transportation secretarial journalist indicated that this move was coming in a post earlier this week:

Since the search resumed after the election, there has been speculation officials wanted Lambert to stay on.

Our cursory search did not turn up a single instance of the Chronicle’s transportation secretarial journalist reporting on any such speculation for the newspaper.

Of course, we suspected that METRO officials had decided to push Lambert as CEO when they floated the idea at one of the Chronicle editorial board’s secretive meetings, as conveyed by Bill King back in December:

Lambert has more than met the test as the interim boss. He clearly has a good grasp of the issues facing Metro, seems to work well with the current board and – from what I hear – has helped restore morale at the agency. Metro’s board has said that they intend to conduct a national search, but will consider Lambert as a candidate. A national search at this juncture is an unnecessary distraction for Metro, especially as the agency is conducting the re-imagining project.

Much of that column — including the graf above — suggested that Mr. King had suffered some sort of head injury just before Christmas (we certainly hope he has recovered!), but the Houston Way trial balloon clearly was being floated (even drawing support from the Chronicle‘s designated “METRO critic”).

METRO will, of course, have to pay the search firm for its efforts (in late December, METRO spokesman Jerome Gray told me that the fee would be one-third of the annual compensation package, probably around $100,000) — just more wasted public money.


Indeed, here are a few of our (splendid?) blog posts from those fun days when Lambert was the head Keystone Cop for METRO: Chief Lambert receives awards for METRO’s security preparedness!, METRO’s multi-faceted approach to Park and Pillage security, METRO PD: We can’t police bus stops, but we’ve got sharpshooters and a bomb robot!, METRO deploys elite counterterror unit.

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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX


  1. Isn’t “Chief Wiggins” Lambert the one who limited the investigation of Greanias, and would not let any other law enforcement agency independently verify Lambert’s “Findings?”

    Looks to me that he is now being rewarded.

    All one can say is “the road to Hell has been paved with boondoggle Light Rail.

  2. Board Member Ballanfant, the current dean of Metro’s Backslapping Board; how many Yes Votes,on Bad decisions has he agreed to over the years?

    Ans: Hundreds of millions in wasted tax payer dollars / countless board approval, of bad Top Metro Staff made decisions.

    The real problem is board dummy decision. One after another in bad business decisions.

  3. anyone surprised?

    Metro has now conducted two “nationwide searches” for the best qualified (!) candidate.
    What did they yield? George Greanias and Tom Lambert….WOW.
    Next time let’s save some $$ and put names on a dartboard, let council throw darts to choose!

  4. KHOU-11 popped an interesting story about the time we put together this blog post:

    The biggest of big-ticket items concerns METRO’s park and ride lots, where two years ago, the I-Team revealed alarming problems—such as nearly 700 cameras disconnected or not working properly, or how all cameras at a park and ride lot were lost for days or even weeks.

    “It gives (thieves) the advantage, it gives them an opportunity,” said METRO commuter Stephan Robinson.

    The security study points out Park and Ride lots are just “too large (for cameras) to provide adequate full -time views.” It also states when a crime occurs, “many times the evidence needed is not within view of the cameras.”

    The study recommends a 14.6 million dollar fix.

    The reaction from commuters?

    “Oh wow,” one rider said.

    “It should be a priority to get taken care of,” another added.

    So the I-Team asked METRO about priorities.

    I-Team: “Point blank, can you pay for all of this?”

    Lambert: “No, I think we have to balance cost to needs.”


    Chief Lambert’s buffoonish mis-adventures with the park-and-pillage lots and security cameras provided lots of blog fodder back in the day (and there are plenty of links to past stories about this in the post above). As Burt Ballanfant would say, “splendid!”

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