In the midst of a scandal that has rocked the Metra and Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), prompting
four Metra board members to resign, Gov. Pat Quinn said Monday he plans
to appoint an independent, non-political panel to devise a “fundamental
overhaul” of the public transit agencies.
The governor also added that he would heed the advice laid out in an upcoming inspector general’s report.
call for an expert panel is on the heels of a Metra scandal surrounding a controversial $718,000 board-approved severance package to the company’s
former CEO Alex Clifford, who resigned last month. Clifford brought up allegations of patronage involving House Speaker Michael Madigan, among other charges regarding the board's hiring and contracting practices.
Critics of the board say the hefty severance package was "hush money" that was offered in attempts to keep Clifford's patronage allegations under wraps.
have to follow the law, that’s what I do. We have an inspector general,
the standard is you step aside and let the inspector general, who is a
professional, law enforcement person carry out their investigation. I
think that’s proper,” Quinn told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Having said that, I really do think the whole structure of the RTA and Metra needs fundamental restructuring and overhaul.”
panel, Quinn said, should come up with suggestions for better oversight
of Metra and RTA, which receive state funds, and wants to see the plan ready for lawmakers to vote on during the fall veto session. The governor hasn’t yet announced who he plans to
appoint to the panel, but mentioned Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider and President of Metropolis Strategies George Ranney, who helped form the RTA almost four decades ago, as
Meanwhile, the governor's opponent in the Democratic primary race for governor Bill Daley, blasted Quinn's plan for reforming the transportation agencies in a statement.
“While Governor Quinn calls for another do-nothing committee to study the problem, 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,” Daley said. “That’s the only way to clean up the mess and begin to give taxpayers and riders their money’s worth.”