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posted: 8/12/2014 12:10 PM

State inspector's Metra report justified

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In contrast to statements a Metra spokesman made, the recently published report by the Office of Inspector General will not cause "unjustified public confusion." Although Metra is free to question the value of our public investigations, its passengers should rest assured that my office will investigate allegations involving public safety.

This is true, even if afterward Metra prefers our findings not be disclosed, as discussed in Daily Herald transportation writer Marni Pyke's recent article, "Metra opposed release of report on fake work logs." The Executive Ethics Commission published our Metra report earlier this month. It did not have to, but did so, despite Metra's claim that it was "wrought with errors and should not be published."

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We find Metra's request peculiar. Our findings are straightforward and implicate issues of safety and integrity about which the public is entitled to know. In fact, upon completion of our investigation, our materials were forwarded to the Federal Railroad Administration who, not surprisingly, reached the same conclusion regarding Metra record keeping. It found 45 infractions of hours of service documentation in just nine days of Metra records we provided it, which may result in civil penalties.

Nevertheless, we are happy Metra undertook several positive remedial measures: it changed policy on employee changes in assignments; it began entering change of assignment information into the payroll system; and it now randomly audits hours of service logs, all actions stemming from our report.

What really matters is that the public is one step closer to obtaining a cleaner and safer government -- and in that, there's no confusion.

Ricardo Meza

Executive inspector general

State of Illinois

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