Metra

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Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

When it comes to state spending, Illinois politicians are giving voters what they want. That’s the problem.

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After nearly two decades as an Illinois Senator, Kirk Dillard has stepped down. The Hinsdale attorney has taken over as chairman of northeastern Illinois' public transit system, known as the RTA.

Even before he became a Senator in 1995, Dillard was a known name in Illinois government; he was Chief of Staff to former Gov. Jim Edgar. Dillard twice tried to win the state's top job for himself, but narrowly missed winning the GOP nomination this year; in 2010 he came within 193 votes.

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  Officials at Chicago area rail transit agency Metra are being reprimanded for allowing workers to switch shifts without properly filling out paperwork. Illinois' inspector general says this practice could have led to fatigued conductors operating trains.

The so-called shift "swapping" created confusion at Metra, according to the office of the executive inspector general. In its three-year investigation, it concluded employees who were swapping shifts — usually to allow some to get a Saturday off — wouldn't fill out paperwork indicating they weren't working.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

More details are emerging on the Illinois Inspector General's probe into political hiring at Metra.  Also, a call for further investigation into Governor Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

State Defends Hiring After Madigan Referral

Oct 16, 2013

Gov. Pat Quinn's administration says there should be no doubt about the qualifications of a former Metra transit employee hired by the state after a referral by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.  
Central Management Services spokesman Mike Claffey  says Patrick Ward worked for 25 years in Chicago's personnel department and has a master's degree with an emphasis in labor relations.  

Metra Panel To Meet In Chicago

Sep 25, 2013
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A state panel charged with coming up with reforms for Metra and other Illinois public transit agencies is set to have a second public hearing.
 
The Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force meets Wednesday in downtown Chicago.
 
Gov. Pat Quinn formed the group in August after allegations about political hiring at Metra. He's called for an overhaul of the commuter rail agency, PACE and other transit agencies.
 

Ethics Panel Votes To Investigate Madigan's Metra Role

Jul 26, 2013

House Speaker Michael Madigan's request to be investigated by the Legislative Ethics Commission is being granted.

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Metra is considering hiring a former assistant U.S. attorney to investigate allegations that prominent politicians pressured staff in personnel and contract decisions.

The public agency's board of directors will vote Monday on whether to approve hiring Patrick Collins, who prosecuted the case that sent former Gov. George Ryan to prison for corruption.

The allegations involving Metra emerged during inquiries into a lucrative buyout for former CEO Alex Clifford.

Metra

A former California transit executive tapped to clean up Chicago's scandal-tarnished Metra commuter rail agency says he was pushed out for doing exactly that and resisting pressure from Illinois politicians.
 
Alex Clifford was allowed to speak publicly for the first time Wednesday about his lucrative buyout agreement, which critics have called hush money and a waste of taxpayer funds.
 

A memo by the former CEO of the Metra commuter rail service contends that Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan lobbied not only for a pay raise for an associate at the agency, but also sought employment for another person.

The memo by Alex Clifford was cited Thursday at a contentious legislative committee hearing on Clifford's resignation and a $718,000 separation agreement.

Clifford says in the memo that he was told before his ouster that he had damaged Metra and its future funding "by my refusal to accede to Speaker Madigan's requests."