O'Halloran feels that despite what he considers making decisions in the best interest of Metra, he has become a distraction to the agency's business and it is time to step down.
O'Halloran was elected Metra chair in November 2012 by the board. He says he acted in a transparent way by asking the agency's inspector general to take the most effective action in the aftermath of buying out Alex Clifford, Metra's executive director, for $718,000 in April.
It was a business decision O'Halloran maintained was better than getting sued by Clifford, action the transportation executive threatened to take when he alleged he had been pressured to hire and promote political allies of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.
In a letter to Cook County commissioners O'Halloran writes: "It is with mixed feelings that I step down. Unfortunately a media and political frenzy has been stirred up (and) the truly critical issues facing Metra will be left aside while the focus remains on the next big headline or attention-grabbing quote."
O'Halloran believes anyone "who knows the true facts can seriously charge that I, or anyone at Metra, tried to cover up allegations" of political impropriety.
"Metra thanks Mr. O'Halloran for his service," said Metra Deputy Executive Directors Alex Wiggins and Don Orseno in a joint statement. "Metra's staff will continue to work with our Board members and focus on our agency's mission to provide the riders and taxpayers of Northeast Illinois with high-quality, safe, affordable and reliable commuter rail service. Our customers should expect no change."
That brings to three, the number of Metra board members that have recently resigned.
The question now is whether vice-chair Jack Partelow will have the confidence of the board to assume the top position or will perhaps the entire board resign, as has been called for in newspaper editorials.