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updated: 7/16/2013 7:12 PM

Internal strife on Metra board peaks with demand for information

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  • Jack Schaffer

      Jack Schaffer

  • Brad O'Halloran

      Brad O'Halloran

 
 

More turmoil is brewing at Metra with one director demanding beleaguered Chairman Brad O'Halloran stop keeping the board "in the dark" on the spiraling costs of ex-CEO Alex Clifford's separation agreement.

"Please do not run up any additional legal fees trying to figure out a way not to give me this information," Director Jack Schaffer of Cary wrote in a letter to O'Halloran. "I believe the board has been kept in the dark on these costs for too long."

A Metra spokesman said Tuesday the agency "had no issue" with providing Schaffer with all the information he requested at the board's next meeting in August. O'Halloran said Tuesday evening he had not received the memo yet.

The commuter rail agency has been in flux since March, when a dispute over renewing Clifford's contract erupted. In an April 3 memo, Clifford accused the chairman and board Director Larry Huggins of improper conduct by condoning political patronage at the agency. He also said O'Halloran attempted to fire two top administrators.

O'Halloran and Huggins have denied Clifford's claims.

"I have never intervened with Metra's staff regarding any jobs or contracts," O'Halloran said in a statement Friday. "The board attempted a fair and unbiased review process for Mr. Clifford that was upended by his threatened legal strategy, which resulted in the settlement."

Meanwhile lawmakers and the RTA are scrutinizing the contract, which could give the former CEO up to $718,000, according to the latest estimates. Clifford is expected to testify to the RTA today.

Schaffer demanded a "full and honest accounting" of expenses from the board's attorney Andy Green, consulting attorney Joseph Gagliardo, a mediator, and a former U.S. attorney who O'Halloran said had examined Clifford's claims and found no wrongdoing.

"By the way, when is the board going to see a copy of that investigation?" Schaffer asked.

Schaffer, a former state senator, also questioned who had authorized public relations consultant Dennis Culloton to work for Metra and how much bills from Culloton and media consultant Mack Communications for damage control have totaled.

Schaffer voted "hell, no" in June against approving the separation agreement.

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