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updated: 3/26/2014 11:07 PM

Ex-Metra CEO heads back to California for transit job

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  • Alex Clifford

    Alex Clifford


Former Metra CEO Alex Clifford who blew the lid on patronage scandals at the agency may be headed back to California to take a job with another transit entity.

The Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District is expected to vote Friday on hiring Clifford as CEO. Clifford came to Chicago after working as a transit executive in southern California.

Last summer, turmoil erupted at Metra after Clifford accused two former chairmen of condoning political patronage pressure over jobs by lawmakers including Speaker Michael Madigan and conflict of interest. The former officials, Brad O'Halloran and Larry Huggins along with Madigan denied any wrongdoing but both stepped down from the board.

Also drawing controversy was a $718,000 separation agreement the board approved for Clifford that some called hush money. Not only did the deal draw criticism for its amount given that his salary was about $252,000, but board directors were castigated for the fact they missed using an insurance policy.

The tentative contract with the district would pay Clifford about $181,000 a year, according to the agenda.

As of February, Metra had paid Clifford about $319,000 and would have owed him six more months of salary through August 2014 if he had not found a job by then. Metra also agreed to compensate him for any difference between his salary and a future job if it was less. Other payments being held in escrow include $75,000 for legal fees and $78,000 for moving expenses,

The Santa Cruz agency operates over 40 bus routes.

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