The fallout over ex-Metra CEO Alex Clifford's resignation continued this week, as the DuPage County appointee to the Metra board of directors resigned Tuesday, effective immediately.
Paul Darley of Elmhurst told County Board Chairman Dan Cronin in a letter that it was a difficult decision and he supported a "comprehensive investigation" into Clifford's resignation and patronage allegations.
"On one hand, I feel I am abandoning the Metra team at a time when it faces monumental issues, aside from this discreditable settlement and patronage situation," he wrote. "On the other hand, there are a lot of other places where I can invest my time and talents and won't involve Illinois politics."
Darley, who was seen as a neutral party in increasing tensions between Clifford and board Chairman Brad O'Halloran and Director Larry Huggins, told the CEO in March his $252,000 a year contract might not be renewed. That led to an explosive April 3 memo from Clifford to the entire board, alleging that O'Halloran and Huggins condoned political pressure from Speaker Michael Madigan regarding jobs, overstepped their authority and that the chairman had tried to get two top administrators fired or demoted. Both men have denied those accusations.
Darley defended the up to $718,000 separation agreement for Clifford, saying it was reached after months of negotiations and 12 hours of mediation.
"No one was happy with it, but we accepted it at the recommendation of our legal counsel. As hard as it is to swallow, the settlement was in the best interest of our riders, Metra employees and taxpayers," Darley wrote, later adding, "I firmly believe the taxpayers of Illinois have a right to know everything that took place at Metra; and I fully support the completion of a comprehensive investigation."
Darley did not immediately return a phone message Tuesday night.
The resignation is the second in recent weeks. Former Kane County Board Chairman Mike McCoy, long considered an independent voice on the board, also stepped down from the Metra board.
In a prepared statement Tuesday, Cronin praised Darley for his service, calling him a "savvy business owner" who donated his Metra salary to charity.
"I believe Paul carefully weighed the options and voted in favor of the (Clifford separation) agreement because it was the most fiscally prudent decision," read part of Cronin's statement. "None us liked it but voting it down would have resulted in spending even more taxpayer dollars."