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BIll Daley, RTA Chief Blast Quinn CTA Board Appointee

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 9, 2013 2:00PM

Thornton Township supervisor Frank Zuccarelli.
Gov. Pat Quinn’s appointment of a south suburban political power broker with no transportation experience to the Chicago Transit Authority board has drawn criticism from Regional Transportation Authority board chairman John Gates and Quinn’s opponent in next year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, Bill Daley.

Last week, Quinn appointed Frank Zuccarelli to be the suburban representative to the CTA board. "I think it's important to have someone on the CTA board that stands up for the South Suburbs,” he said. But there may be an ulterior motive on Quinn’s part in appointing Zuccarelli. Zuccarelli happens to be the Supervisor of Thornton Township and has a major patronage army at his disposal centered at South Suburban College, where he also serves as chairman of the college’s board of trustees. That’s an army that will come in handy marshaling support for Quinn in 2014, especially with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s endorsement of Daley giving the former White House chief of staff an advantage in fundraising.

Zuccarelli would earn $25,000 annually serving on the CTA board, in addition to his $128,520 salary as Thornton Township supervisor. Gates believes Zuccarelli’s dual appointment is a violation of state law. Quinn claims otherwise. "The law makes it crystal clear that someone who is a township supervisor is able to serve," he said.

This had Daley, who comes from a family that knows a thing or two about patronage, in the odd position of blasting Quinn over the appointment. “Governor Quinn has violated at least the spirit of state law by appointing a clear double-dipper to this important post. Frank Zuccarelli’s only transportation experience is driving voters to the polls,” said Daley. “The Senate should reject his nomination. We all thought Pat Quinn, the self-styled reformer, would rise about this kind of politics, but when a powerful Cook County pol needed a paycheck, Governor Quinn was there for him. Today I call on the Governor to rescind this blatantly political and possibly illegal appointment, and if he continues to refuse to do the right thing, then the Senate must act to vote down this appointment.".

Zuccarelli, speaking to Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown, said he asked Quinn for help in looking for another government job after stepping down from the Cook County Employee Appeals Board and that he doesn’t consider the appointment “double dipping.” Apparently, Zuccarelli is simply a workaholic. (Emphasis ours.)

I’ve always been interested in working simultaneously. Since I was fifteen years old, I’ve had more than one position.”

Zuccarelli also told Brown he would not consider serving on the CTA board for free. The career politician said, “I don’t have anything in savings.”

“It’s not that much money, but it’s enabled me to start putting some money away so that if I retire in five or six years, I’d have some kind of retirement.”