Alex Clifford

Gov. Pat Quinn has appointed a 15-member independent panel including former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate fraud and overhaul Chicago-area public transportation.  
The move follows allegations of political hiring at Metra and calls for change at its overseeing board, the Regional Transportation Authority.  
The Chicago Democrat issued an executive order Thursday creating the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force. Quinn previewed the idea last week.  

Ethics Panel Votes To Investigate Madigan's Metra Role

Jul 26, 2013

House Speaker Michael Madigan's request to be investigated by the Legislative Ethics Commission is being granted.

Metra is considering hiring a former assistant U.S. attorney to investigate allegations that prominent politicians pressured staff in personnel and contract decisions.

The public agency's board of directors will vote Monday on whether to approve hiring Patrick Collins, who prosecuted the case that sent former Gov. George Ryan to prison for corruption.

The allegations involving Metra emerged during inquiries into a lucrative buyout for former CEO Alex Clifford.


A former California transit executive tapped to clean up Chicago's scandal-tarnished Metra commuter rail agency says he was pushed out for doing exactly that and resisting pressure from Illinois politicians.
Alex Clifford was allowed to speak publicly for the first time Wednesday about his lucrative buyout agreement, which critics have called hush money and a waste of taxpayer funds.

A memo by the former CEO of the Metra commuter rail service contends that Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan lobbied not only for a pay raise for an associate at the agency, but also sought employment for another person.

The memo by Alex Clifford was cited Thursday at a contentious legislative committee hearing on Clifford's resignation and a $718,000 separation agreement.

Clifford says in the memo that he was told before his ouster that he had damaged Metra and its future funding "by my refusal to accede to Speaker Madigan's requests."