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Metra Appoints Interim CEO

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 27, 2013 4:30PM

Photo by tncountryfan

The remaining board of directors at Metra unanimously named Don Orseno interim CEO of the beleaguered rail agency in a special session Tuesday. Orseno, a deputy executive director at Metra, and Alex Wiggins were appointed to jointly run the agency shortly after the June resignation of former CEO Alex Clifford and $871,000 buyout, with former board chairman Brad O’Halloran resolving any disputes between the two. (This proves once again Metra can complicate the simplest decisions.)

Acting Metra board chair Jack Partelow said Orseno’s experience overseeing Metra’s operations including their engineering, transportation and mechanical divisions gave him an edge over Wiggins, the agency’s deputy executive director of administration. “We run a railroad and Don is a railroad man,’’ Partelow said. Suddenly we have images of Orseno showing up to work in a train engineer’s hat and bib overalls, ready to shove coal into a burner. He certainly has the credentials: Orseno began his career as a trainman for the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company and later became a locomotive engineer before working up the ranks at Metra.

Orseno addressed Metra’s recent scandals dating back to the 2010 suicide of former executive director Phil Pagano and said they wouldn’t be repeated under his watch. “If you do the right things for the right reason, things will take care of themselves.’’

Orseno was named interim CEO in part because of the current composition of Metra’s board. Eight commissioners are needed to appoint a permanent CEO but five commissioners, including O’Halloran, have resigned in the wake of the Clifford buyout and ensuing scandal. Only four commissioners are needed to appoint an interim CEO.