More churn on Metra board
Friday, June 10, 2011
by Marni Pyke
Another Metra director has stepped down amid a power struggle over the board’s future.
Jim Dodge, an Orland Park trustee and former Republican
candidate for state comptroller, said he would not seek reappointment
Friday during a meeting.
An emotional Dodge praised staff at the agency saying, “I’m very excited about its future.”
But he noted, “I would prefer to exit under different
circumstances. It’s unfortunate Metra has turned into a political chew
toy for Springfield.”
The agency was thrown into turmoil last April during a probe
into financial fraud by former CEO Phil Pagano, who later committed
suicide. Pagano swindled nearly half a million dollars in vacation pay
and exercised complete control over Metra operations, an investigation
concluded. The top-down approach resulted in favoritism and other
The board enacted reforms in the aftermath but several state
senators have called for all directors to step down, introducing
legislation to that effect.
The Metra board is appointed by a mixture of county
chairman, Cook County commissioners and the Chicago mayor. County
leaders have split on whether their appointees should stay or go.
Former board Chairman Carole Doris and Director Ed Paesel both announced their resignations this spring.
Dodge said he was not pressured to go. “It’s the right time,” he said.
Some officials, however, said Cook Commissioner Liz Doody
Gorman and other colleagues did not intend to rename Dodge to the board.
“We appreciate his dedication and service,” Gorman said.
Dodge would definitely have been reappointed but county leaders were
“pigeonholed” by threats from state lawmakers to take away their
appointing authority, she said.
Sen. Susan Garrett, a Lake Forest Democrat, commented that
“many state lawmakers believe that having new blood on the Metra board
is necessary during these challenging economic times. Ultimately, this
is not Springfield’s decision. It has been and will continue to be the
responsibility of the county chairman and commissioners who appoint