Preckwinkle Calls On Her Metra Board Appointee To Resign [UPDATE]
By aaroncynic in News on Aug 15, 2013 10:00PM
Update: Rakestraw tendered his resignation late this afternoon in a letter to Preckwinkle. “My overriding concern is, and has always been, doing the right thing for Metra. That includes eliminating any potential controversy which distracts the board from its business,” Rakestraw wrote.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle called for Metra Board member Stanley Rakestraw’s resignation on Wednesday, citing his residency status. Preckwinkle, who appointed Rakestraw to the board, made the demand after a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed Rakestraw lives in a luxury condo in Chicago, but is required to live in suburban Cook County to hold the post. “Since he no longer resides in suburban Cook County, he is ineligible to serve as my appointment on Metra,” Preckwinkle said in a statement. “As soon as I was notified of this fact, I requested Stan Rakestraw's resignation.”
The Tribune investigation showed that Rakestraw moved to a high rise across the street from Millennium Park two years ago after a fire destroyed his home in south suburban Flossmoor. He however, continued to list the suburban address as his residence, even on an ethics statement he filed with the Cook County Clerk’s office. Rakestraw maintained that he has not done anything wrong, since Metra’s legal counsel said he was allowed to live anywhere in the county. “"My information was that my position covered all of Cook County," he told the Tribune. "It didn't have to (represent) a specific area. That was my understanding."
The Regional Transportation Authority Act however, requires that all five Metra board members appointed by Preckwinkle and suburban Cook County commissioners live in the suburbs. Rep. Jack Franks told the Tribune law prohibiting more than one appointee from living in Chicago is "crystal clear,” and said “Otherwise, board members would be from every square block in Chicago. That's why we have these rules.”
Should Rakestraw resign, it will leave the Metra board with the bare minimum of 6 members to operate. So far, four other board members, including former chairman Brad O'Halloran, have resigned after CEO Alex Clifford was ousted in June and given a $718,000 severance package which one member referred to as “hush money.” Today, Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed by Governor Pat Quinn to the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force, a panel created to clean up the Metra mess. Quinn told NBC5:
“It’s clear that the mass transit system in northeastern Illinois is not working for taxpayers. This task force is a step forward to make our transit system worthy of the public’s trust. Their recommendations will be valuable as we work in both the veto and spring sessions to reform mass transit in northeastern Illinois.”