Kane County officials are now taking applications from local residents who would like to represent the county on either the Metra or RTA transportation boards. But finding willing applicants might not be as easy as when previous board openings occurred.
Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said in an interview he's already had an applicant withdraw his name. The withdrawal came following the intense scrutiny of the Metra board's approval of a $718,000 severance package for former CEO Alex Clifford. Since then, five Metra board members, including Kane County's Mike McCoy, have stepped down.
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"The person withdrew his application at the urging of his own family," Lauzen said. "Who needs to be called all those things the Metra board members are being described as?"
Lauzen has said he's not quite sure what qualifications will be most appealing for a candidate while the agency is in turmoil. He has suggested a lawyer, an investigator or someone seasoned in politics may be the best choice.
Metra currently has the bare minimum number of board members to take at least some basic votes. With applications due Sept. 3, Kane County is unlikely to have a new representative until at least the next meeting of the full county board Sept. 10.
The county is advertising the position as paying $15,000 per year with no insurance or pension benefits.
But that may be the less appealing of two transit board appointments that are currently open in the county. Applications are also being accepted from local residents who want to be the county's new RTA board representative.
The more lucrative, $25,000 a year job, also comes with no insurance or pension benefits. The position opened earlier this month when Lauzen's initial appointee to the board, Nabi Fakroddin, resigned when an investigation revealed Fakroddin's concurrent service on the Illinois Human Rights Commission was illegal.
To that end, county officials are advising all applicants they can't be "an officer, a member of the board of directors or Trustees or an employee of any transit Service Board (Metra, Pace or CTA) or transportation agency, or be an employee of the state of Illinois, or of any unit of local government or receive any compensation from any elected or appointed office, except that a director may be a member of a school board."
County board member T.R. Smith was a member of the bipartisan, three-member selection committee that helped Lauzen trim the list of applicants to a handful of finalists for the last RTA appointment. Smith said he expects a similar process this time, though he hasn't been notified if he will be on the selection committee again.
"We were never allowed to have an actual committee because we would have been obligated by the Open Meetings Act," Smith said. "So we formed a screening committee where we each went through the applications by ourselves and submitted four names to the chairman. "Then he had them all in for interviews. Of course, he didn't ask the right questions. And in Nabi's defense, he did disclose (his other appointment)."
County board member Cristina Castro had called for a vetting of all appointees by the Kane County State's Attorney's Office. But the office's appointee to the county board, attorney Patrick Kinnally, said that would be inappropriate.
Interested applicants for either position can send applications by mail to the Kane County Board office, or electronically to: CLauzen@kanecoboard.org.