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updated: 9/4/2013 7:06 PM

Kane County sees high interest in Metra appointment

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With Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen promising a more thorough vetting of applicants, a four-member review panel was given the task Wednesday of reviewing 41 applications by area residents seeking appointments to the Metra and RTA boards. The catch is, the panel only has about 24 hours to deliberate.

Kane County has been without representation on the Metra board since mid-July when Mike McCoy resigned the appointment given to him by former Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay. Less than a month later, Kane County's RTA board representative, Nabi Fakroddin, resigned when it was discovered he was illegally serving on two boards.

Lauzen called for an open application process, which ended Tuesday. He received a total of 41 applications -- 20 for one board and 21 for the other.

"We got a group of applicants in that I think is just terrific," Lauzen said. "If you go over these resumes, it makes you proud to be a resident in Kane County. It's really an impressive group of folks."

A four-member, bipartisan panel of county board members will get the first crack at narrowing the pool of applicants down to three or four finalists. Lauzen will then select one Metra appointee and one RTA board appointee from those finalists. The full county board must then take a vote on whomever Lauzen selects.

Lauzen said Metra and the RTA have called on the county make an expedited decision on the appointments. Metra, in particular, is down to a scant few board members following rash of resignations that followed intense scrutiny of the board's approval of a $718,000 severance package for former CEO Alex Clifford.

Lauzen plans on bringing his appointees forward for a vote next Tuesday. He wants two days to interview the finalists and submit his picks for a vetting that ensures they don't have any legal or ethical conflicts of interest. That means the four-member review panel will only have one day to review all the resumes and select the finalists.

That might not be too difficult a task as there are likely many repeat applications from the recent, but unsuccessful, appointment of Fakroddin. And three of the four members of the panel are the same people who helped select Fakroddin. The only new member, county board member Deb Allan, said she has some basic qualities she will look for in the applications.

Allan said she thought McCoy was an ideal person to serve on the Metra board. But when McCoy resigned, Allan said she had to rethink her idea of who could best represent Kane County's interests while also maintaining a clean house within the Metra organization.

"I'm looking for someone who is politically adept without being tied to a political party," Allan said. " ... Someone who won't be overwhelmed by the power and glory of the position. It has to be someone with adequate time to do the work associated with the appointment. And I want someone with a world view perspective of the organization."

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