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Article updated: 7/2/2013 5:24 AM

Lawmakers: Shake up RTA board appointment

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SPRINGFIELD -- Two suburban lawmakers are asking McHenry County leaders to open up their next pick for the Regional Transit Authority Board to new candidates instead of reappointing longtime member Al Jourdan.

The McHenry County Board was set to make that decision Tuesday, but Chairman Tina Hill said a committee will consider the decision before the board makes a choice in the coming weeks.

Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo and Republican state Sen. Dan Duffy of Lake Barrington argue the process should be more open to less-connected candidates, especially after Metra hastily announced giving its departing CEO, Alex Clifford, a severance package worth something between $442,000 and $749,000.

"To reform government, you have to try something different," Franks said.

Hill said she's sticking with Jourdan because of his experience and said it's unfair to tie his appointment to the Metra situation because the RTA board had nothing to do with Clifford's settlement. Jourdan was appointed to the RTA board in April 2008.

Hill argues the process is open because the county board can reject Jourdan.

"I did look at other candidates," Hill said. "Al's got the strongest voice."

Franks and Duffy said the RTA could end up investigating Clifford's severance package, so the questions are warranted.

Duffy said he expects some resistance to his stance because Jourdan is a fellow Republican and former chairman of the state party.

"We have to treat all these positions the same," Duffy said. "I'm trying to stay consistent."

The RTA has financial oversight of Metra, Pace and the Chicago Transit Authority. RTA directors are paid a stipend of $25,000 a year.

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