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Former CTA manager tapped to serve on Metra board

Updated: November 4, 2013 12:07PM

A former CTA expert in emergency preparedness has been selected to fill the seat of retiring Metra Board member William Widmer III, a group of suburban Cook County commissioners announced Wednesday.

John Plante, of Wilmette, retired from the Chicago Transit Authority in August after 35 years with the agency. Most recently, he had served as the agency’s senior manager for system safety emergency preparedness.

“Out of a field of 14 highly qualified individuals, John Plante emerged as the clear choice,’’ Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin said in a news release Wednesday.

“John has the experience and skills to ensure that Metra has what it needs to prevail over its difficulties. His emergency preparedness work and legal background will help Metra to work through its current problems and foresee any potential future problems.’’

Plante is the latest addition to what should be an 11-member Metra board. The board dipped to as few as six members in the tumult following its decision to grant ex-CEO Alex Clifford a 26-month severance deal worth up to $871,000 in exchange for leaving eight months early and agreeing not to sue Metra.

Plante was accredited as a professional emergency manager in 2008 and has served on several security task forces and committees, including acting as chairman of the Chicago Regional Transit Security Working Group.

He also is heavily involved with the American Public Transportation Association, where he was on the board of directors from 2011 to 2012.

Plante has a 1978 law degree from John Marshall Law School. His previous jobs at the CTA include serving as managing attorney for the CTA’s risk management, claims and law divisions.

Since his retirement last August, he continued to teach for the Transit Safety Institute, according to Plante’s LinkedIn page.

Plante was selected by the weighted votes of six suburban Cook County commissioners, with Suffredin carrying the most weight, at 38 percent. Joining in the vote, in order of their weight, were commissioners Peter Silvestri, Gregg Goslin, Elizabeth Gorman, Earlean Collins and Jeffrey Tobolski.


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