The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Task Force Report Concludes What Most Of Us Assumed About Metra's Patronage Hiring

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 1, 2014 9:55PM

The transit task force assembled by Gov. Pat Quinn to investigate, among other things, allegations of political hiring at Metra released a report Monday alleging patronage hires at the rail agency dating back at least 30 years, and that one of Illinois’ most powerful politicians did the de facto hiring.

The report, which can be read here, accuses Metra of keeping records of political hires dating back to 1981 and singles out House Speaker Michael Madigan as one of the main perpetrators in Metra’s culture of patronage.

The task force, headed by former U.S. prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, said in the report Metra kept three boxes of three-by-five inch index cards from 1983 to 1991 containing the names of over 800 people referred to Metra by “various political officials or persons influential with political parties.’’ The report said Madigan “in some cases, he did not recommend people to be hired — he in effect decided they were hired” and that this pattern of behavior dates back to 1976. The task force claims Madigan or “a private attorney who appears to have recommended individuals on behalf of the Speaker of the House” recommended 26 people to be hired at Metra, including one “high-priority” candidate hired “before the first interview.”

Madigan spokesman Steve Green disputed the report’s findings.

“That goes to the amateur nature of the report. They throw these items out and I guess hope to achieve some change in public policy. It will be a challenge,’’ Brown said.

“It’s hard to ask [Madigan] any questions,” Brown said, based on “25- to 30-year- old index cards.”

Madigan became entangled in the scandal that erupted following the July 2013 resignation of former Metra CEO Alex Clifford and the $871,000 severance package negotiated for Clifford by Metra’s board of directors. Several members of Metra’s board resigned in the fallout, including chairman Brad O’Halloran.