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Article updated: 7/19/2013 6:32 PM

Kane County leader steps down from Metra

By Marni Pyke

As Metra copes with allegations of conflict of interest and patronage, one of the board of directors' independent voices is leaving.

Former Kane County Board Chairman Mike McCoy resigned Friday from the Metra board of directors. "I no longer have the time or desire to continue serving," he wrote current Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen, who will appoint McCoy's replacement.

Republican McCoy, a civil engineer, cast the lone vote against an unpopular increase in the 10-ride pass pushed by former Metra CEO Alex Clifford in late 2012. The fare hike backfired with a drop in 10-ride purchases and Metra Chairman Brad O'Halloran has said he wants to repeal it.

McCoy and the entire Metra board are under fire after approving an up-to-$718,000 separation agreement for Clifford.

Lawmakers have called for the entire board's resignation but McCoy said he stands by his decision to approve the controversial separation agreement June 21.

However, McCoy told Lauzen he owed an explanation of his reasoning.

"My vote was based primarily on financial analysis," McCoy wrote. "I felt the financial risk of litigating and possibly losing the Clifford-threatened lawsuit far outweighed the cost of settlement. I believe this even more strongly today."

Clifford's exit has not been quiet. In an April 3 memo that was kept secret until July 19, he accused O'Halloran and Director Larry Huggins of retaliating against him for refusing to go along with pressure from politicians like Speaker Michael Madigan to favor cronies or relatives working at Metra.

Both O'Halloran and Huggins have denied the allegations.

"I never believed for a second the April 3 Clifford memo outlining his threatened lawsuit should or would be kept secret," McCoy said. "Immediately after Clifford's resignation, I pushed strongly for its release."

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