Larry Huggins resigns from Metra Board

August 2, 2013 3:32:50 PM PDT
On Friday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Larry Huggins spoke and agreed he would resign from the Metra Board, the mayor's office said.

"I spoke with Larry today and we both agreed that he will step down from the Metra board. Larry has a lifetime of service to our city and its neighborhoods. His decision to leave the Metra board demonstrates his commitment and will allow the agency to begin a new chapter," Emanuel said.

"I would like to thank Mayor Emanuel for the opportunity to serve Chicago and its residents. I care deeply about this city and in recent days, it has become clear that it is time for me to step aside and allow Metra to move on," said Huggins.

Huggins is the fourth recent departure of a Metra board member.

The board that had 11 now has seven. Larry Huggins is the latest to go. He is the one Chicago mayoral appointee to the Metra Board.

The executive director with his generous severance package, Alex Clifford, is gone. The chairman who wanted him out, Brad O'Halleran, is gone. And now Larry Huggins joins two other board members in calling it quits. Huggins, a Chicago contractor, was accused by the now-departed Clifford of playing the patronage game at Metra.

It does not immediately appear that more will quit. Jack Partelow is the now-acting chairman, and he spent much of the day on the phone with fellow board members.

"What I'm finding is they feel a need to do something and do it quickly. They want to put this chapter behind them as soon as possible," Partelow said.

Partelow is trying to find a consensus candidate to be the new board chairman.

"I don't think anyone is standing in line for the job," said Jack Schaffer, Metra Board member.

The by-laws say the next chairman must be from Cook County. Four of the seven remaining on the board are from Cook. Two of them say they don't want it, leaving two who might. The problem is the board needs eight votes to elect a chairman and hire a new person to run Metra's day-to-day operations, and there's no longer eight people on the board. The railroad is still running, but temporary leadership ultimately raises concern about operations.

In the meantime, several board members say running the railroad needs full-blown attention.

"Stop spending money on lawyers flaks and outsider investigations and stop burning taxpayer money," Schaffer said.


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