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Article posted: 4/19/2013 5:50 PM

Metra CEO's future still a question mark

Alex Clifford

Alex Clifford

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Metra board directors established a process for CEO Alex Clifford to get his contract renewed but it's still unclear if he has the backing necessary to continue at the agency.

Board members met in executive session Friday but released few details afterward. They did agree in public to allow Clifford to prepare a self-evaluation and to pay up to $4,000 for consultants to administer an online, confidential survey by employees.

Several officials have confirmed some board directors including Chairman Brad O'Halloran are underwhelmed by the chief executive's performance. Eight board directors out of the 11 are required to approve a contract renewal, meaning just four dissenting votes can scuttle it.

O'Halloran said he couldn't comment on personnel.

Board Director Jack Schaffer of Cary said Thursday "there were still a few (directors) who recognize he's done a fabulous job. We have to keep Alex on the job ... (but) I don't think the chairman is on that wavelength."

Board Director Mike McCoy, a former Kane County chairman, said he hoped the evaluation could be wrapped up by June.

Clifford's tenure has included tensions over: fare increases; building a railway bridge in Chicago's South Side, which led to accusations the agency had discriminated against minority contractors; and the gradual transition to a universal fare card.

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