Austin staffer that used ‘inappropriate’ map resigns

Derogatory map on slide- ZAP meeting presentation
Derogatory map on slide- ZAP meeting presentation

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Officials say a Consulting Engineer for the City of Austin’s Transportation Department has resigned his position after using a map in a city presentation with, what some considered, ‘inappropriate,’ derogatory terms on it.

Scott Gross, who had been with the Transportation Department since 2009, used the map in January during a presentation on street connectivity and strategic mobility initiatives during a Zoning and Platting Commission meeting.

“Using this backdrop was completely inappropriate,” said City Manager Marc Ott at the time while launching an investigation into why the map was used.

“This was something that got a lot of news a year or so ago,” Gross was quoted in a city memo as saying during an apology after the presentation. “I just, in looking for Austin maps online, I was looking for something that would help identify different neighborhoods in context.”

When questioned by ZAP Commission Secretary Jolene Kiolbassa if there was really a neighborhood that was “overly practical gays,” Gross responded “I don’t think any…it’s all from different stereotypes…it’s an equal opportunity offender.”

According to the memo, despite apologies in person and in emails, Gross never acknowledged the map was offensive and instead continued to justify its use.

“Simply put, I employed that map on a bit of whim in order to inject some humor and a little levity into an otherwise dry topic,” Gross said during the investigation. “To be told, effectively, that the harm I would continue to cause outweighs the positive contributions I could continue to make, is humiliating, humbling and punishing.

Despite his resignation, the memo states most witnesses expressed a hope that Gross would not be terminated because of a lapse in judgment.

Click here to read the city’s investigation into Scott Gross.

 

 

 

 

 

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