A Republican candidate for governor wants to replace the entire board of directors of Metra, presumably to replace them with people less susceptible to political influence. State Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) says the existing board misbehaved when it pushed out executive director Alex D. Clifford for ignoring political patronage requests, and gave him a settlement of up to $718,000 to keep quiet about it. Brady says even people who don’t ride the trains should care about this.
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“To the average citizens of Illinois, a three-quarter-million-dollar buyout contract, whether it’s for hush or other reasons is wrong, and the people of Illinois deserve to know that their tax dollars are going into a system that is run by people who are behaving ethically and putting the taxpayers in from of anyone’s personal political gain,” Brady said at a news conference in front of the Oglivie Transportation Center in Chicago, a terminal for three of the 11 Metra train lines.
Metra operates – or contracts private companies to operate – commuter rail in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. The combined Metra system moves 301,000 passengers on an average weekday, 121,000 on a Saturday or Sunday.
Under a bill Brady is introducing, the board would be dumped, with new members appointed who would be limited to one six-year term. Also, those board members would have to be confirmed by a two-thirds vote of the governing body of the jurisdiction that appoints them.
The Metra board members are from geographical areas: One from Chicago, five from suburban Cook County, and one each from DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.