Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)
* The set-up…
Gov. Pat Quinn appointed the 15-member group after weeks of controversy at Metra over the $871,000 severance package awarded to ousted CEO Alex Clifford and the allegations Clifford raised of political interference at the agency….Quinn asked the group to develop ways to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse at the CTA, Metra and Pace, as well as the oversight agency, the Regional Transportation Authority, and to streamline overall system operations.
This part struck me as somewhat odd…
The meeting was awkward because the elephant in the room was not in the room at all. Metra officials were not invited to attend, and Acting Executive Director Don Orseno spent most of the session standing in a hallway outside. When he finally entered and took a seat in the back, no one on the commission took public note that anyone from Metra was even in attendance.
I find the best parties are the ones where the guest of honor isn’t included, too.
* The Sun-Times editorial board is not amused by this whole process…
The task force’s deadline for initial recommendations is before the Oct. 22 fall Legislature’ session , with a final report due Jan. 31. Finding a politically viable solution that’s eluded us until now is tall order for a panel just beginning its work.
However, the board is encouraged by a reform proposal that would combine Metra with the RTA, CTA, and Pace into one entity. The theory is doing so would save administrative costs and improve the intergovernmental cooperation to address capital needs. There’s also this…
Quinn said Tuesday during the task force’s first meeting that the four agencies use 16 different appointing authorities to name 47 board members who are paid $10,000 to $50,000 each.
Task force background materials go even further, saying “the rationale for payments to multiple board members should be examined.’’
The materials also note that transit board members are not required to have “background checks, experience or knowledge of transit systems.’’ Once appointed, “it can be difficult to remove a board member even when there is just cause,’’ the informational packet for task force members says.
We certainly wouldn’t want that to happen.
* Meanwhile, Greg Hinz was on the ball when it came to a ruling in the RTA’s lawsuit against businesses opening satellite offices in an attempt to dodge paying sales taxes…
A Cook County Circuit Court judge dismissed large portions of a suit by the Regional Transportation Authority against exurban Channahon and Kankakee Aug. 30 in a dispute over sales tax collection. But other counts in the $100-million damage suit remain alive, pending a decision in a related case before the Illinois Supreme Court.
In hjs decision, Judge Peter Flynn said the suit, which also includes Chicago and Cook County as plaintiffs, is incorrect as a matter of law in some instances, but said other charges can be refiled with more substantiation of specific incidents.
* Editorial: What will it take to oust the Metra board holdouts?
* Editorial: Damage control at Metra
* Franks Wants Special Session to Fire Metra Board, Hire Emergency Manager