Karl Rohde is no longer on the staff of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA). Rohde was the BTA’s Government Relations and Public Affairs Director.
Late this afternoon I received several phone calls and emails about the news after Rohde sent out an email to colleagues announcing his departure. I was later able to confirm it with Rohde himself.
The news comes as a major shock to many, not just because of how abruptly it has happened, but because Rohde was a key member of the BTA staff whose work in Salem was at a crucial juncture.
I had been working with Rohde as late as yesterday on stories about the BTA’s 2009 legislative agenda. But today, a call to Rohde’s phone extension at the BTA forwarded me to an administrative assistant and there’s no sign of him on the staff listing on the BTA’s website.
Rohde was the organization’s sole lobbyist in Salem, a role he took over from their former lobbyist Scott Bricker (who is now their executive director). Many of the BTA’s bills are currently embroiled in the legislative process. Rohde has been on the front lines of the BTA’s efforts to pass the Idaho Stop Law and he has been a fixture in Salem this session trying to push the BTA’s agenda with state legislators.
With Rohde now out of the picture, it is likely that Bricker will assume his former role. He’ll get a chance to to jump right in on Monday when the House Transportation Committee takes up a bill that would create a new funding source for non-motorized transportation projects.
It remains to be seen how Rohde’s departure will impact the BTA and its legislative agenda, but given the extreme amount of work Rohde has done thus far, it will be tough for the BTA to fill the hole.
As for details about what led to Rohde’s abrupt departure, no communication has been made public by the BTA and Rohde would not share any more details about the situation other than to say, “I am no longer an employee of the BTA.”
Rohde — a former Lake Oswego city councilor — was hired in August of 2007, just a few weeks after Scott Bricker was named the BTA’s interim leader following the departure of former executive director Evan Manvel.
We’ll have more on this story next week.
– Oregonian blogger Joseph Rose is reporting that anonymous sources say Rohde was fired due to a difference of opinion about his lobbying style and conflicts with at least one other BTA employee. I have heard this as well but was waiting to hear more from executive director Scott Bricker and others before reporting on it.