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Article updated: 10/31/2012 5:20 PM

O'Halloran expected to be named Metra chairman

Brad O’Halloran

Brad O'Halloran

 
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And the new Metra chairman will be -- Brad O'Halloran. Maybe.

O'Halloran, an Orland Park village trustee, was expected to be anointed as Metra chairman at the board's Oct. 12 meeting but a contingent of indignant Chicago aldermen scuttled that plan. O'Halloran failed to pick up the necessary votes, and Acting Chairman and Chicago businessman Larry Huggins remained in charge.

Metra has scheduled a Friday meeting to vote on the chairmanship, which signals the pieces are in place for a pro-O'Halloran vote.

Although choosing the leader of the board that oversees a commuter rail agency might seem to be a nonpolitical decision -- that's far from the case.

Metra board members, who are paid a $15,000 annual stipend, are picked by politicians: the Chicago mayor; the Cook County Board president; Cook County suburban board members; and the five collar county board chairmen.

And with city-suburban turf wars over transit funding simmering, consensus has been hard to come by with Chicago aldermen on Oct. 12 pushing for Huggins.

Metra board Director and former Lake County Chairman Jim LaBelle expects Friday will be O'Halloran's day, indicating that the powers that be had reached a deal.

"I think they'll be a consensus," LaBelle said, hedging his bets. "Brad's instincts are good and he wants an open, accountable operation. He has what's needed and the other board members can work fine with him."

Naperville resident and retired Dunn and Bradstreet executive Jack Partelow is expected to be appointed as vice chairman.

Complicating the saga is Metra's recent board upheaval. Longtime Chairman Carole Doris from DuPage County resigned last spring in the wake of fallout from a 2010 financial scandal and Huggins has held the job ever since. Former Metra CEO Phil Pagano committed suicide in May 2010 after it was discovered he'd taken thousands of dollars in unauthorized vacation pay and benefits.

O'Halloran served on the Metra board in 2003 and 2004 and was reappointed in 2011. He is the University of Notre Dame's regional director of development and president of Transportation Development Corp., a consulting firm.

In October, directors instituted a four-year rotating chairmanship. The rotation would be between Collar County directors and Cook County directors including Chicagoans.

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