Beleaguered Metra Board Chairman Brad O’Halloran has stepped down amidst a patronage and severance controversy that has thrust the rail agency into the headlines.
O’Halloran sent his resignation letter to Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Doody Gorman, the elected official who originally appointed him to the board.
A growing chorus of state legislators have called on O’Halloran and the entire board to resign after the June 21 decision to pay out $718,000 in severance to outgoing Metra CEO Alex Clifford.
Clifford has said he believes he was ousted because he resisted requests from House Speaker Mike Madigan to give a raise to one Metra employee and promote another. Clifford said O’Halloran was concerned refusing the powerful Southwest Side Democrat would cause Metra to lose funding.
Metra Board Jack Schaffer has denounced the severance package as “hush money.”
On Wednesday, Schaffer stood with GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bill Brady as Brady called for the entier board to be dumped. Brady had harsh words for O’Halloran, saying his behavior “lies in question” and that he should answer questions and be held accountable.
“To the average citizens of Illinois, ... a buyout contract, whether it’s for hush or other reasons is wrong and the people of Illinois deserve to know that their tax dollars are going into a system that is run by people who are behaving ethically and putting the taxpayers in front of anyone’s personal political gain,” Brady said.
Two board members have already stepped down — Paul Darley, who represented DuPage County, and Mike McCoy, who represented Kane County.