RTA auditor: Metra payout to CEO excessive

In a sharply-worded report  the Regional Transit Authority auditors blasted Metra for the way it handled the controversial dismissal of former CEO Alex Clifford.

Metra board members paid Clifford an $871,000 departure settlement after Clifford said he’d been pressured to make political appointments.

Critics say the Metra board cut a deal to silence outgoing CEO Alex Clifford  who complained about pressure to make political appointments.  One of the most astonishing revelations to emerge is that Metra Board members could have saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars – but didn’t – for reasons that are not yet clear.

 

Regional Transit Authority directors say it doesn’t make sense why Metra Board members, fearing a lawsuit, argued publically that in the long run an $871-thousand dollar severance deal would save taxpayer money.

According to a new audit report, they had a much better option.  A Metra insurance policy that would have helped defray the costs of litigation.

 

At a Regional Transit Authority hearing today board members questioned the curious actions of the Metra Board, a board that’s suffered five resignations in the wake of a growing scandal that began with the abrupt departure of Metra CEO Alex Clifford.

 

In the preliminary report, which accuses Metra Board members of misleading the public, auditors  say the board’s deliberations on whether or not to to pay out the massive settlement were inadequate and “not fiscally prudent.”   In a written statement, RTA board chairman John S. Gates said, “RTA’s discovery of Metra`s insurance policy calls into question the reasons behind Metra’s decision to pay Clifford without notifying its insurance carrier.”

And that’s the unanswered question that appears to lay beyond the reach of the RTA auditers.  It may

not be until the State Inspector General completes his report that we understand why the Metra Board didn’t report the settlement to their insurance company.

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