Edwards Aquifer Authority board chair Luana Buckner surprised members last week when she put EAA General Manager Karl Dreher on administrative leave, leading to a nearly four-hour closed board meeting Tuesday afternoon debating Dreher's future with the EAA.
While the board argued over whether Buckner's decision was premature (some members insisted she didn't have the authority to take such action on her own), members ultimately voted 8-to-6 to terminate Dreher.
Members cited supposed problems over Dreher's lack of communication with staff and legislators. Board secretary Enrique Valdivia, who voted with other members to oust the general maanager, lauded Dreher's technical skills but said there were concerns he didn't work well with EAA staff, and failed to communicate effectively with lawmakers.
"It just seems he wasn't a real people person," Valdivia said.
While Dreher's most recent board evaluation raised no serious red flags, some members referenced possible problems with EAA staff. On dealing with lawmakers, one member wrote: “Karl seems to struggle with the delicacy of these types of relationship and over reacts to communications from legislators. For instance, a call from the Speaker's office is not always in opposition, it may be a request for more info, as was the case recently.”
“Those evaluations weren't exactly flawless,” Valdivia said. “We've got a legislative session coming up in, what, six months? Those things can get crazy.”
Buckner did not return calls from the Current, but told Texas Public Radio last night, “I technically did not have the authority to do that. I thought I had the authority at the time, the vice chairman thought I had the authority, and the general manager obviously thought I had the authority because he accepted that designation and he signed the appropriate paperwork.”
Assistant general manager Roland Ruiz will take over as interim general manager of the EAA while the board looks for Dreher's replacement.