WHY ARENT THE FEDS INVOLVED THIS IS A RAIL SYSTEM ? TAKING INTO CLEAR APPEARANCE OF FRAUD?

August 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

HOW MUCH DID THEY SCAM OUT OF THE METRA FUNDS AND HOW THEY ARE STILL CONNECTED WITH THE MONIES ?

THEY ALL TOOK FOR NOT DOING THEIR JOBS AND HOW MUCH WAS FEDERALLY FUNDED TO ACCOMMODATE THE FRAUD THEY COMMITTED?

THE APPEARANCE IS TO AGAIN TAKE FED DOLLARS AND DEFRAUD THE GENERAL PUBLIC TO FUND THEIR SCAMS?

WELCOME TO CHICAGO BUT MOST OF ALL WELCOME TO ILLINOIS THE STATE THAT FUNDS  PATRONAGE POLITICAL FRAUD ?

 

 

 Metra’s commuter rail service is crucial to the Chicago region’s economy and livability. (Antonio Perez, Chicago Tribune / June 12, 2013)

August 16, 2013

Lest any of us forget, beneath the uncommonly pleasant August weather lurks a scandal mired in Illinois patronage and politics. So let’s all stipulate that:

• Far-flung yet reliable Metra commuter rail service is crucial to the Chicago region’s economy and livability.

• Lofty paeans to restoring faith in Metra will mean nothing until the rest of the board members who voted for a hush-money deal — and who didn’t immediately disclose a memo alleging corrupt efforts to influence the agency — resign.

• With another resignation Thursday, five of these underachievers have left. The job of driving out the rest, without grinding Metra to a halt, now falls to the local politicians across northeastern Illinois who by law appoint the members of Metra’s board.

Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday named a 15-member task force to rethink transit oversight. Other voices, too, are proposing ways to rebuild the Rube Goldberg arrangement in which the Regional Transit Authority sits atop Metra, Pace bus service and the Chicago Transit Authority.

The long-term goal here is to make public transit throughout metropolitan Chicago more professional and less open to political abuse. Today’s superstructure — four oversight boards with some four dozen members — was created so Chicago Democrats and suburban Republicans would be forced to share power. But that top-heavy oversight structure has led to a lack of accountability.

Even by sketchy Illinois standards, the Metra board’s tolerance of political interference was egregious: When Metra CEO Alex Clifford accused Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and other politicians of trying to influence agency decisions, board members reflexively tried to force Clifford out and buy his silence.

Local officials whose Metra appointees haven’t resigned should make the bitter-enders an offer they can’t refuse. Some of the officials, with good reason, are reluctant to fill vacancies on the board with investigations still going on and Metra’s future in question. Nobody should be appointed to a Metra board seat for the long haul until all of us decide how this region’s public transit should be structured. The worst move now, with transit oversight an open question, would be a rush to repopulate Metra’s board.

That said, the agency needs board members to make decisions. What to do?

The Solomonic solution comes from Dan Cronin, head of the DuPage County Board, whose appointee to the Metra board resigned last month. Cronin suggests a simple protocol: Reconstitute the Metra board with interim members who submit letters of resignation even before they take office. They then would serve solely at the pleasure of the officials who have appointed them, with no real or assumed squatter’s rights.

We hope Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the other Great Appointers will join Cronin in helping Metra function day-to-day without creating expectations for their new appointees. If some of them later win full terms on Metra’s or some other board, so be it.

As the process of rethinking transit oversight plays out, we’ll be watching to see whether the proposals that emerge would reduce this abusive political influence, or just shift it from some politicians to others.

Here’s one test of any overhaul plan: Would this oversight structure encourage the hiring of top administrators who will run safe, efficient transit operations — and who would do what Metra’s ousted CEO did in refusing to buckle to the pols? That is, how can we recruit, and protect, transit bosses who won’t play by the rules of Illinois politics?

That should be any governing board’s mission. The Metra board’s decision to do the opposite is reason enough for its complicit holdouts to resign, and for interim placeholders to run the trains.

Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

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