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Article posted: 9/17/2013 4:15 PM

DuPage forms new mass transit panel

Tonia Khouri

Tonia Khouri

 
Elizabeth Chaplin

Elizabeth Chaplin

 
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After criticizing the chairwoman of DuPage County's public transit committee for failing to address certain issues related to Metra and the Regional Transportation Authority, county board Chairman Dan Cronin has formed a new ad hoc mass transit committee.

The panel, chaired by county board member Tonia Khouri, will keep the county board informed about public transit funding and governance proposals, including a potential restructuring of the RTA and the "proper allocation of resources across mass transit service boards," officials said.

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"I am looking forward to fighting for the citizens of DuPage County to ensure they get proper representation on the service boards and equitable funding," said Khouri, who will act as a liaison between the county board and DuPage's representatives on the Metra, RTA and Pace boards.

The six other county board members on the ad hoc committee are Sean Noonan, Don Puchalski, Grant Eckhoff, Brian Krajewski, Tony Michelassi and Bob Larsen. Their first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 24.

The announcement of the ad hoc committee members came a week after Cronin admonished Elizabeth Chaplin, who leads the county's public transit committee.

Cronin said the public transit committee, which is supposed to meet monthly, has met only a handful of times this year. He then accused Chaplin of ignoring "pressing" issues, including the controversy at Metra.

Chaplin denies Cronin's claim. She said she believes the ad hoc committee was formed "to discredit" her because she's been critical of Cronin.

"It think it's to send a strong message to other board members that if you go against the chairman and his agenda, you will be punished," Chaplin said.

Most recently, Chaplin has questioned whether Cronin used an open and transparent process to select Naperville resident John Zediker for the Metra board.

On Tuesday, board member John Curran said the process that was used to pick Zediker was consistent with what Cronin had done in the past.

Curran also advised Chaplin that the public transit committee should let the ad hoc committee do its job and avoid "overlap" between the two panels.

Chaplin said she's planning to invite RTA and Metra representatives to make regular presentations to the public transit committee. Curran says such updates are fine as long they don't deal with governance and funding issues.

"The board has to speak with one voice," Curran said. "The voice on those subjects is now in the ad hoc committee that Dan created."

The ad hoc panel will report to the county board's transportation committee.

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