Cronin not rushing to fill Metra vacancy
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DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin says he's in no hurry to appoint a new county representative to the Metra board of directors.
He said he would prefer to delay the appointment until after Metra deals with the fallout over its former CEO Alex Clifford's resignation.
"DuPage County taxpayers and riders should have a seat at the table and they should be represented," Cronin said Wednesday. "But right now, I think, the agency is paralyzed. It doesn't make a lot of sense to rush in."
The chairman's comment came one day after DuPage's former delegate, Paul Darley of Elmhurst, became the second Metra director to step down in recent weeks.
Metra board members have been under fire since approving a separation agreement that would pay Clifford up to $718,000.
The controversy escalated when it was learned Clifford sent an April 3 memo to the entire board, alleging that board Chairman Brad O'Halloran and Director Larry Huggins condoned political pressure from Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan regarding jobs. Clifford also claimed in the memo that the chairman tried to get two top administrators fired or demoted.
O'Halloran and Huggins both have denied the accusations.
In his resignation letter to Cronin, Darley said he supported a "comprehensive investigation" into Clifford's resignation and patronage allegations. He also defended the separation agreement, 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," Darley wrote in his resignation letter.
"As hard as it is to swallow, the settlement was in the best interest of our riders, Metra employees and taxpayers."
Cronin, who appointed Darley as a Metra director in April 2011, said he understands why Darley decided to step down and do something else. However, he said, "I'm disappointed that our culture here is so problematic."
Cronin called Darley an accomplished leader and a smart businessman who "threw himself into that job and gave it his all."
"We had a great guy there," Cronin said, "and circumstances were such a turn off for him that we lost him."
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