CTA board chairman, vice-chairman quit

September 23, 2009 2:12:26 PM PDT
The two top board members, Chairman Carole Brown and Vice Chairman Susan Leonis, have resigned.The resignations come as the CTA is expected to face yet another multi million dollar budget crisis.

Only one of them leaving would be a tough setback for the CTA board. But having both the chairman and vice chair step down on the same day is huge and, they tell ABC7, by design. They're hoping it will send a very loud message.

"I wouldn't call it a celebration, but we are reminiscing about our last six years," said Brown.

She may not be calling it a celebration, but Carole Brown was smiling a lot on Tuesday night, and so is her good friend Susan Leonis. They were having dinner together at Fred's on top of Barney's on Rush Street and came out to tell ABC7 why they did it, why they quit the CTA board in tandem.

"It was a good time for the CTA to really get a fresh and new perspective. Like I said, there are challenges ahead and a new look at things might help," said Brown.

Mayor Daley appointed Brown to the board in 2003.

Browne says she'll miss working closely with Daley and former CTA president Ron Huberman, now running Chicago Public Schools. She had no comment about the newly-appointed CTA president, former aviation commissioner Richard Rodriguez. But she did admit that she'd had enough of suffering through financial crises. This year it was a $190 million budget gap, next year is expected to be even worse.

"It has been incredibly frustrating but somebody like the mayor to be your boss and to have his guidance every day has just been amazing. Working with somebody like Ron Huberman who is just a savant," said Brown.

Susan Leonis was appointed to the CTA Board by former Governor Edgar in 1996.

"It's always been rough," said Leonis.

The close friends leave the CTA saying their proud of their service and accomplishments, but very concerned for the CTA's future.

DePaul transportation expert Joe Schwieterman says the CTA desperately needs a boost of confidence in its leadership for some very tough times ahead.

"CTA has lost a lot of the key talent. Now we see that the board experience is gone. Clearly questions are going to be raised about the need to bring on some new experience to get through tough times," said Schwieterman.

Schwieterman says experienced leadership will be important if Chicago is expected to host the 2016 Olympic Games because big improvements to the CTA infrastructure would be important then. Browne and Leonis say they're simply exhausted but excited to take on new challenges yet.


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