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Article updated: 7/3/2013 4:36 PM

Lawmakers set hearing over Metra severance

Alex Clifford

Alex Clifford

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The day after Regional Transit Authority officials plan to question Metra Chairman Brad O'Halloran about a $442,000 severance package for the former Metra CEO, state lawmakers will try to pry answers out of the commuter rail agency's board.

Lawmakers have put increasing heat on Metra over the deal, which could expand to $749,000 if former CEO Alex Clifford doesn't find a new job soon, and a Chicago meeting of the Illinois House Mass Transit Committee July 11 could be the first official airing of those concerns.

State Reps. Jack Franks of Marengo and David Harris of Arlington Heights have said Metra must find a way to absorb the cost of Clifford's deal without asking for more state money or higher fares.

O'Halloran and other Metra board members are invited to the state hearing next week.

On Wednesday, O'Halloran will appear before the RTA board, which has financial oversight of Metra.

The circumstances under which Clifford's severance package were negotiated have been kept largely secret so far, but O'Halloran has suggested the settlement was made last month at least in part to avoid lawsuits.

Clifford's contract was to run through February of next year.

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