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updated: 9/10/2013 4:50 PM

DuPage leaders feud over transit panel, Metra pick

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  • Dan Cronin

      Dan Cronin

  • Elizabeth Chaplin

      Elizabeth Chaplin

 
 

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin admonished a county board member Tuesday for canceling public transit committee meetings and not discussing several "pressing" issues, including the Metra scandal.

That Democratic board member fired back by accusing Cronin, a Republican, of "political bullying."

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The public rebuke of Elizabeth Chaplin, who chairs the public transit committee, came after she criticized the process Cronin used to pick Naperville resident John Zediker for the Metra board. She said Cronin didn't provide county board members with information about the roughly 30 other candidates.

"We owe it to them (everyone who applied for the Metra seat) to make sure that the process is fair and open," Chaplin said before the full board approved Zediker's appointment. She and board member Lauren Nowak voted "present."

It wasn't until the end of Tuesday's meeting that Cronin announced his plans to form an ad hoc committee on public transit even though the county already has a public transit committee.

Cronin said the new panel is needed because Chaplin's committee, which is supposed to meet monthly, has met only three times this year. And all of the committee's scheduled meetings this summer have been canceled.

"Frankly, I am very disappointed with the chairwoman of this committee, who has ignored an issue of such grave importance to our citizens and taxpayers," said Cronin, referring to the controversy at Metra. "In my view, our public transit chair decided not to go to work on public transit matters 66 percent of the time."

Chaplin responded by pointing out that her committee didn't meet because there weren't any public transit issues related to DuPage that needed attention.

While the committee could have talked about the Metra scandal, Chaplin said she's not sure what action the panel could have taken.

Still, Cronin said Chaplin has shown a lack of attention, interest and genuine involvement in "pressing" issues. Those issues include Gov. Pat Quinn convening a task force to review public transit agencies in the region with the possible outcome of changing the structure of the Metra board, CTA, Regional Transportation Authority and Pace.

DuPage's ad hoc committee would examine "the critical funding and governance proposals" confronting the RTA and Metra, according to Cronin.

"This is just political bullying," Chaplin said of Cronin's announcement. "I've been outspoken against a lot of the chairman's initiatives."

Cronin said Chaplin is the one "playing partisan political games" because of statements she has made to the media and on her blog.

"I left partisan bickering in Springfield to get something done here in DuPage County and to govern," said Cronin, a former state senator.

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