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Amid questions about second job, ODOT official steps down early

Under scrutiny, ODOT director Matt Garrett cancels plan to keep moonlighting trucking regulator.

State trucking regulator Gregg Dal Ponte won't enjoy a lucrative second trucking-related job, after all.

Eight days after the news broke that Dal Ponte had taken a job on a corporate board that some viewed as questionable, Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matt Garrett informed staff in an email that his plan to keep Dal Ponte on for another year has been scrapped.

Dal Ponte had planned to retire June 30, but return as a retiree, for one year essentially working nearly full-time at the same rate of pay.

The part that raised eyebrows? He'd continue overseeing the ODOT Motor Carrier Transportation division while serving on the corporate board of ERoad, a company seeking to sell satellite-tracking based services to the companies Dal Ponte regulates.

The position paid $35,000 a year, primarily requiring attendance to 10 meetings by telephone or video-conferencing.

State law requires avoiding the appearance of a conflict of interest. Jim Moore, a Pacific University government professor and director of the Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation, told the Portland Tribune that the arrangement appeared questionable and would open up the agency to accusations of favoritism.

Garrett, in his early afternoon email, defended the arrangement as complying with state ethics law. "Even though this arrangement was affirmed as meeting Oregon's ethical guidelines, it has led some to question the appearance of the arrangement and suggest it is a conflict of interest," he wrote. "After reflecting on the issue, I came to the conclusion that rather than continuing a situation in which people would question the reputation and integrity of this agency, it would be best to completely separate his public service at ODOT from his private endeavors."

Dal Ponte will not remain at ODOT after his formal retirement, according to Garrett. Instead, a deputy will fill in until a permanent replacement can be found.