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updated: 8/28/2013 4:53 PM

Metra board member says he's done at end of term

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  • Jack Schaffer

      Jack Schaffer

 
 

The lone Metra board member who voted against the controversial severance package for the agency's former CEO says he's leaving the board once his term expires in June.

"Eight years is more than enough for any rational human being to serve on a board like this," McHenry County appointee Jack Schaffer said. "My term runs out in June and I have no intention of serving beyond that."

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Schaffer is one of six remaining Metra board members out of the 11-member board who haven't resigned following the agency's latest scandal that had former CEO Alex Clifford accusing former board chairman Brad O'Halloran and another board member, Larry Huggins, of misconduct and political patronage tied to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Both men denied any wrongdoing, but Clifford negotiated an up-to-$718,000 severance package that ignited the scandal and led to the resignations.

Schaffer's announcement comes on the heels of calls by the four Republican Cook County commissioners for the three remaining Metra appointees from suburban Cook County to resign. The county commissioners claim the Metra board members have lost the public's trust.

Noting that it was the same commissioners who appointed the embattled O'Halloran, Schaffer said following their directions would likely only lead to more problems.

"Next time they may give us Jesse James," Schaffer said.

Former Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder, who has been a Metra board member since 2005, said Tuesday that she has no plans to resign.

Larry Suffredin, an Evanston Democrat who is one of six suburban Cook County commissioners who gets a vote to appoint some Metra board members, does not believe the remaining board members should be forced out.

"I have seen nothing that the three of them have done wrong," he said of the Metra directors from suburban Cook County.

"If we want to send a message that when these board members make decisions that commissioners don't agree with that we'll pull the rug out from under them, who's going to want to be on any of these boards?"

Schaffer said he believes many of the Metra board vacancies will be filled in short order and the new board can set about finding a new CEO for the agency.

On Tuesday, the board voted to make Donald Orseno, who has been with Metra for 29 years, its interim CEO.

Clifford, who was brought in after former CEO Phil Pagano killed himself amid allegations of financial wrongdoing, has said that he would take the job back. Schaffer said he supports that plan, but others believe it's unlikely to come to fruition.

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