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Sneed: Quinn wants transit board members to serve for free

Gov. PQuinn

Gov. Pat Quinn

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Updated: September 17, 2013 8:23AM

Sneed exclusive . . .

No free rides . . .

Gov. Pat Quinn, who is attempting to revamp the scandal-ridden mass transit system, is running with scissors.

Sneed has learned that Quinn, who is steering the mass-transit reform train, has sent a signal to eliminate the salaries of all transit board members — including the CTA, RTA and Metra.

“Gov. Quinn has asked his newly minted transit task force to review the possibility of eliminating transit board pay altogether,” a top source tells Sneed.

◆ Backshot: Earlier this summer, Quinn signed legislation abolishing pension and health-care benefits for transit board members, which were used as a carrot to lure prospective board members into the system’s feeding trough.

On Thursday, Quinn appointed an independent blue-ribbon task force to issue recommendations for reforming mass transit in northeastern Illinois.

Among his appointees were transit expert George Ranney, as Sneed reported on Sunday, and Patrick Fitzgerald, the legendary former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, best known for his work prosecuting government corruption. Earlier this year, Quinn appointed Fitzgerald to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees in the wake of an admissions scandal.

“The public’s confidence has been badly eroded by all these scandals,” the source said. “The governor feels that one step to assure people that the public interest is the only interest is forgoing the pay.”

Oh oh Oprah . . .

A Winfrey windfall: The new film “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which stars Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey as the longtime White House butler and his wife, needed 41 producers to get the film accomplished. Ironically, Oprah, who is pitching the movie big-time, was not one of them.

Jail tale . . .

It’s ironic: Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s requested to be incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, N.C., where former Rep. Mel Reynolds served time before returning to Chicago to work for Jesse’s dad, the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

◆ Irony 2: Not only did Triple J replace Reynolds after his resignation, but Reynolds ran as a candidate to replace Jackson in last year’s special election.

Our fallen stars . . .

End of watch: To commemorate those who serve, protect and die trying, the following names will be unveiled in a ceremony at the Police Memorial at Gold Star Families Memorial and Park at 6 p.m. Monday.

◆ Police Officer John P. Furlong, assigned to the Deering Police Station, whose end of watch came on Oct. 27, 1915. He was beaten to death by four men he described as “gangsters.”

◆ Detective William E. Goles, assigned to the Lawndale Police Station, whose end of watch was on Jan. 19, 1947. He died after being accidentally shot by his partner.

◆ Police Officer Sidney Sam, assigned to the 12th District, whose end of watch came June 16, 1971. He was shot to death by men who stole his gun and badge.

◆ Lt. Cornelius Rourke, assigned to the 6th District, whose end of watch came Sept. 7, 1991. Rourke died of complications after treatment for gunshot wounds he received while on duty in 1967.

◆ Police Officer Terrence Knox, assigned to the 5th District, whose end of watch came May 8, 2011. He died as a result of blood transfusions for gunshot wounds he received while on duty in 1969.

The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation has been able to find next of kin for all of the officers listed, except Officer Furlong. “I would appreciate it if anyone who has info on Officer Furlong’s next of kin would call the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation at (312) 499-8899,” said former top cop Phil Cline.

Pelosi pride . . .

Hey! Hey! Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks was spotted chatting on the phone Thursday with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse on Thursday. Pelosi had asked Harry Caray’s CEO Grant DePorter to pass on her phone number to Banks so she could congratulate him on being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Banks “has really never been more excited in his life,” DePorter said.

Sneedlings . . .

Friday’s birthdays: Tim Smithe, 50; Ald. Walter Burnett, 50, and Madonna, 55 . . . and happy belated to Sister Catherine Ryan, ageless.

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