The [Thursday] Papers
"Ousted Metra CEO Alex Clifford implicated at least two board members in a patronage complaint shortly before he began negotiating a generous severance package with the commuter rail system, officials publicly acknowledged for the first time Wednesday," the Tribune reports.
"Those board members - whom Metra has refused to name - also voted on the $718,000 severance deal despite Clifford's threats to file a lawsuit if he could not reach a financial settlement with the agency."
So instead of reporting the allegations to the proper authorities, like, say, the U.S. attorney's office, Clifford used them to extort a better severance package.
"But members of the Regional Transportation Authority did not press Metra for additional details about those revelations during a Wednesday hearing, even though the agency oversees Metra and had advertised its meeting as an opportunity to force the commuter rail agency to drop the veil of secrecy shrouding the controversial deal."
In other words, just make it go away. Nice job, RTA!
"Clifford also has signaled willingness to turn over a copy of an eight-page memorandum in which he outlines the patronage allegations. The memo, which he gave to the board in April, prompted settlement talks with the agency. Clifford resigned in June after agreeing to a severance package worth more than three times his annual salary."
"The RTA board did not ask Clifford to testify and showed little interest in inviting him to a future meeting, as it extracted few new details about his severance package Wednesday and demanded few detailed explanations about the patronage allegations.
"I'm satisfied with what I heard," Director John Frega said.
You and 16 others. The rest of us not so much.
"Frega was among the few RTA or Metra officials willing to speak with reporters Wednesday after the meeting. The majority left the hearing room from a side door, leaving in their wake several new concerns about the severance package and Clifford's allegations."
Maybe they had a train to catch.
"Metra officials said they forwarded the allegations to the state inspector general's office, but its lawyers have refused to release the document to the Tribune following a Freedom of Information Act request."
Pretty much everybody behaved - and is still behaving - badly in this imbroglio (journalese, I know, but Iike it).
"It's unclear how many claims Clifford made, but Gagliardo told RTA officials that one involved a conversation with state lawmakers about minority hiring and the other concerned contracts for a $93 million railroad bridge on the South Side known as the Englewood Flyover.
"The first allegation stemmed from a discussion Clifford had in March 2012 with Latino lawmakers in Springfield. The legislators questioned him about the percentage of Hispanics working at Metra and asked him to hire a more diverse staff, O'Halloran told the RTA board.
"State Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, attended the meeting but denied he recommended people for Metra jobs. He told the Tribune that he routinely questions state agencies about minority hiring but said he never asked any political favors from Clifford. Arroyo said he has not been contacted by the inspector general's office."
Well, that seems reasonable.
"'He's really grasping for straws if that's what he's saying,' said Arroyo, whose daughter was hired at Metra after he raised concerns about Latino hiring under past CEO Phil Pagano."
"He's crying over spilled milk."
Arroyo's daughter's spilled milk.
"He lost his job because he had no personality."
Like, the kind of personality that wouldn't cry over spilled milk.
Well, to be fair, Arroyo added "and wasn't a good manager."
But one gets the idea that wasn't the primary reason - though one also gets the idea it was true.
"House Speaker Michael Madigan is denying he pressured ousted Metra CEO Alex Clifford to give an employee a raise, according to a statement released this morning," the Tribune reports separately.
"Madigan said he recommended in March 2012 that the employee, Patrick Ward, receive a merit adjustment based on his education level and job performance.'
In other words, he pressured Clifford into giving Ward a raise.
In Illinois, admitting something is the same as a denial because everyone knows you did it and nobody cares.
CPS Math Out Of This World
Bucktown Beating Update
Meet The Chicago Knights Robotics Team
I'm not sure the Blackhawks realize they can now sell strands of that logo on eBay for more money than they probably get from their TV deal. Also: Tours. Bieber Stood Here.
RiRi's Pee Wee Fee
That's less money than the cost of the pen she used to sign this deal.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Inflatable.
Posted on July 11, 2013
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