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Quinn To Appoint Panel To Clean Up Metra Mess; Durbin Wants Fed Oversight

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 7, 2013 2:15PM

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin are wading further into the mess at Metra caused by the resignation of CEO Alex Clifford and the buyout of his contract, and the nine-page memo where Clifford detailed being pressured to make patronage hires.

Quinn announced Monday he was prepared to appoint an independent panel to work on a “fundamental overhaul” of Metra’s board of directors, in addition to an inspector general’s report that is underway. Four Metra board members, including former chairman Brad O’Halloran, have resigned in the wake of the scandal and Quinn “said the whole structure of the RTA and Metra needs fundamental restructuring and overhaul,” but didn’t offer specifics as he said the IG investigation needs to be completed first.

Quinn’s challenger in next year’s Democratic primary, Bill Daley, called the appointment of the panel “another do-nothing committee to study the problem.”

In a statement, Daley said, I have been clear — fire the Metra board, eliminate the RTA and make the governor more directly accountable for the waste and insider deals at Metra and other transit agencies. That’s the only way to clean up the mess and begin to give taxpayers and riders their money’s worth.”

Durbin, meanwhile, sent a letter to the Federal Railroad Adminstration Tuesday requesting federal officials to provide special oversight of Metra as the agency deals with “serious management and financial challenges.” Durbin said the mess at Metra “creates a situation where accountability is hard to find and priorities like safety could become neglected” and, since the agency will receive $135 million in federal funds this year, it’s imperative there’s oversight to ensure Metra operates safely and efficiently.