Bill Brady says he wants to dump Metra Board
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter email@example.com July 31, 2013 3:20PM
State Sen. Bill Brady, Republican candidate for governor.
Updated: September 3, 2013 7:06AM
Illinois gubernatorial candidate Sen. Bill Brady on Wednesday proposed new legislation that would replace the Metra Board and set a two-year limit for its chairman, which he said would “purify” the rail commuter agency amid its payout scandal to former CEO Alex Clifford.
Standing in front of the Ogilvie Transportation Center with Metra board member Jack Schaffer, Brady had harsh words for Chairman Brad O’Halloran, saying his behavior “lies in question” and that he should answer questions and be held accountable.
Many Illinois legislators have called on O’Halloran and the entire board to resign after the June 21 decision to pay out $718,000 to Clifford.
“To the average citizens of Illinois, ... a buyout contract, whether it’s for hush or other reasons is wrong and the people of Illinois deserve to know that their tax dollars are going into a system that is run by people who are behaving ethically and putting the taxpayers in front of anyone’s personal political gain,” Brady said.
Brady’s legislation would set up a new confirmation requirement that appointments to the Metra board be confirmed by a two-thirds majority by the Chicago City Council, county board or township boards of current appointing authorities in the six-county metropolitan region. It also would allow the governing bodies to remove a board member with a two-thirds vote, and require any request of a board member or employee from an outside entity about personnel, procurement, investments and material decisions be made part of the record and disclosed to the Inspector General as an ex parte communication.
Brady said the current board has “lost its ability to be effective.” The new proposed requirements, he said, would create a system that is “free from impurities and one that the public trusts.”
Two board members have already stepped down — Paul Darley, who represented DuPage County, and Mike McCoy, who represented Kane County.
Schaffer, who voted against the payout to Clifford, said he hopes the legislation will push the board into being more of an oversight board — which is what was intended when Metra was created — with a transit professional taking the lead.
“Frankly, we just terminated one of the four or five best [transit professionals] in the country,” Schaffer said. “Another black mark on us.”
“It attempts to address the shadowy activities of the governing authorities on this transit board, and I suspect others,” said Schaffer in support of Brady’s proposed legislation.
“By having members appointed for a six-year term, they’re not working on being reappointed. Having them confirmed by two-thirds of a vote of a county board or township means they aren’t the personal property of one appointing authority,” Schaffer said .” Frankly, I think the appointees should recruit the best possible people they can find, tell them to do the right thing and leave them alone.”
For Schaffer, six-years on the board is enough: “I’m on my eighth year and I really wish I had left at six.
“Six is plenty.”