Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has called for the resignation of another Metra board member.
Rakestraw, who Preckwinkle appointed to the Metra board in 2012, is
required by law to live in suburban Cook County, the area for which he
represents. But according to the Chicago Tribune, the president and CEO of SCR
Medical Transportation, Inc. lives in a Chicago high-rise condominium
and therefore should not qualify for serving on the public transit agency's board.
Stan Rakestraw applied for the position, he listed a Flossmoor
address," Preckwinkle said in a statement. "Since he no longer resides in suburban Cook County, he is
ineligible to serve as my appointment on Metra. As soon as I was
notified of this fact I requested Stan Rakestraw's resignation."
newspaper found that Rakestraw, who makes $15,000 annually from his
post on the Metra board, relocated from his Flossmoor address when a
fire consumed his home two years ago. He nonetheless continued to report
his residency in the south suburban village, including in this year’s
ethics filings for the Cook County Clerk’s office, despite having moved
to downtown Chicago.
Rakestraw, a longtime campaign supporter for Preckwinkle, told the Chicago Tribune the board’s legal counsel, Johnston Greene LLC, authorized his Chicago residency.
information was that my position covered all of Cook County," Rakestraw
told the newspaper. "It didn't have to (represent) a specific area.
That was my understanding."
If Rakestraw resigns, he will represent the fifth member of the 11-person board to step down since June as a political patronage scandal continues to plague the public transit agency.
The company’s former CEO Alex Clifford brought up allegations of patronage involving House Speaker Michael Madigan shortly after he resigned in June and received a controversial $718,000 board-approved “departure settlement.”
Critics of the board have referred to Clifford’s hefty payout as “hush money” to keep the CEO’s patronage allegations quiet.
Metra board member and former State Sen. Jack Schaffer told Crain’s that, although Rakestraw’s residency may not be a problem, his future with the public transit board is not very bright given the recent controversies.
gut is that it's not a legal conflict of interest," Schaffer, who was the only board member to vote against Clifford’s severance package, said. "But it comes very close to presenting an appearance of a
conflict of interest, which in this environment isn't very good."
Not long after Clifford resigned, Preckwinkle backed Rakestraw’s approval of the severance package.
on these public boards is thankless, and under these particular
circumstances very difficult. I have great confidence in Stan, whom I
appointed … in his good judgment and his competence," Preckwinkle said
some weeks back, the Chicago Tribune reports.
UPDATE 1 (2:54 p.m.): Rakestraw has reportedly submitted a resignation letter to Preckwinkle, according to the Chicago Tribune. Rakestraw is the fifth member of the Metra board to resign in the last few weeks.