Metra picks Lake Forest accounting expert as new chair

Updated 10/14/2016 5:19 PM

Metra board directors amicably and unanimously picked a new chairman from Lake County Friday but not without some behind-the-scenes differences of opinion.

Director Norman Carlson, an accounting expert from Lake Forest, takes over from Chicago attorney and former alderman Martin Oberman next month.


The change reflects a Metra policy of rotating the chairmanship between a Cook County resident and someone from the collar counties.

Carlson said in a statement his mission was to continue Metra's "forward momentum while addressing the need to secure better and more stable sources of capital funding."

Carlson heads up the audit and finance committee. He is a railroad historian and was an executive at Arthur Andersen Co., where he was head of the North American rail industry sector. He now has a consulting business.

Oberman's term finishes Nov. 2. He only served part of the four-year term, stepping into the job in February 2014 after the sudden exit of previous Chairman Brad O'Halloran amid a scandal that broke out when former Executive Director Alex Clifford revealed instances of patronage pressure from lawmakers.

Oberman, who has not accepted a stipend, led a number of reforms. He was willing to stay on as chairman for an additional term but said "the board had a different point of view" on Friday. Oberman voted for Carlson as chairman.

Carlson was newly appointed to Metra in April 2013 when the patronage issue broke and voted along with a majority of board members for a controversial separation agreement with Clifford that summer.

He has spearheaded an update of the railroad's outdated accounting system.

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