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Metra Investigates Chief Exec's Alleged "Bonus"

By Lindsey Miller in News on Apr 29, 2010 5:20PM

Photo by tripp...
Metra is investigating whether its executive director of 20 years, Phil Pagano, has been getting extra, unapproved compensation. The board of directors is specifically investigating an alleged "bonus" totaling $56,000 Pagano received in recent months. Metra Spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet told the Chicago Tribune that Metra doesn't pay bonuses anymore (that practice ended after 2004). In Metra's 2010 Budget, Pagano is slated to receive only his salary of $269,625, which is the same salary he received last year. If the board of directors' own review shows financial irregularities in Pagano's compensation, it will hire attorney James Sotos to conduct a format inquiry.

Some members of the board of directors were surprised. Director Jack Schaffer of Crystal Lake says it was Pagano who helped Metra grow and stay out of financial trouble - unlike the CTA - since it opened in 1984. However, Metra has been criticized for giving closed-session pay increases to top staff in the past. In 2005, the Illinois attorney general's office ordered the board of directors to start approving top staff salaries in open sessions.