Governor Quinn appointed a 15 member panel of transit heavyweights, educators and advocates to make recommendations to improve the area’s transportation system including the RTA, CTA, Pace and Metra.
The governor says Metra needs a fundamental overhaul after its former CEO Alex Clifford’s $718,000 separation deal and his accusations that House Speaker Mike Madigan wanted favors from him which he was not willing to give.
Since Clifford’s bombshell, five Metra board members have resigned. The latest casualty is Stan Rakestraw who was appointed by the Cook County Board President. He resigned today amid questions over his residency.
In his letter to Tony Preckwinkle, Rakestraw said in part…” my overriding concern is and has always been doing the right thing for Metra… That includes eliminating any potential controversy which distracts the board from its business.”
Among those on the panel is former U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald who rooted out crime and put away two Illinois governors. Fitzgerald and 14 others are supposed to come up with recommendations by the fall legislative session.
But the timing could not be worse for mass transit which needs money for upgrades and expansion. Ridership is at a record high but instead of going to Springfield on a positive note, transit leaders now have to defend their organizations. Better Government Association CEO Andy Shaw would like to see a clearly defined code of ethics be implemented at all four agencies. So there is no gray area moving forward.