4th Metra board member resigns

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Embattled Metra board member Larry Huggins resigned today, becoming the fourth person to quit the board following allegations of political interference at the commuter rail agency.

Huggins, who represented the City of Chicago on the panel, made the decision after speaking with Mayor Rahm Emanuel Friday.

“I spoke with Larry today and we both agreed that he will step down from the Metra board. Larry has a lifetime of service to our city and its neighborhoods,” Emanuel said in a statement. “His decision to leave the Metra board demonstrates his commitment and will allow the agency to begin a new chapter.”

Huggins, who owns a successful construction business, was among those targeted in the scathing memorandum from former Metra CEO Alex Clifford earlier this year. The document – in which Clifford accused Huggins of carrying a patronage request for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and interfering with contracts – prompted the agency to offer Clifford a $718,000 severance package.

Huggins has denied the allegations, but said his resignation was in the agency’s best interest.

In a statement, Huggins said: “I would like to thank Mayor Emanuel for the opportunity to serve Chicago and its residents. I care deeply about this city and in recent days, it has become clear that it is time for me to step aside and allow Metra to move on.”

On Thursday, Metra Chairman Brad O’Halloran stepped down saying the Clifford controversy and its attendant media hype made it impossible to do his job.

Board members Mike McCoy of Kane County and Paul Darley of DuPage have also both resigned.

The Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.

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