5th Metra board member, Stanley Rakestraw, resigns under pressure from Toni Preckwinkle

5th Metra board member, Stanley Rakestraw, resigns under pressure from Toni Preckwinkle
August 15, 2013 8:43:36 PM PDT
An independent panel including former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will recommend reforms for Metra and other Chicago-area transit agencies, Governor Pat Quinn announced Thursday, the same day a fifth Metra board member resigned.

If the Metra board loses one more member, it won't have a quorum and won't be able to function. The latest resignation was at the result of a residency issue.

Stanley Rakestraw tendered his resignation in a letter to the person who appointed him, Cook County board president Toni Preckwinkle.

"My overriding concern is, and always has been, doing the right thing for Metra," Rakestraw wrote. "That includes eliminating any potential controversy which distracts the Board from its business."

"I hate to see him go," said acting Metra Board Chair Jack Partelow. "He's a good, been a good, board member. And I know why he's stepping down. And I sure wish he wasn't."

The move comes after it was learned Rakestraw no longer lived in the suburbs, a requirement for his particular seat.

Rakestraw has reportedly been living in this downtown Chicago high-rise for two years after a fire, he says, destroyed his home in south suburban Flossmoor.

"Throughout this process," he wrote, "I informed counsel for the Board of my residency and was repeatedly reassured that, given my personal situation, my residency was not an issue."

Metra is now left with six board members out of eleven, the minimum for a quorum, limiting some of the board's powers.

"The board cannot appoint a permanent chairman. The board cannot hire an executive director, a CEO," Partelow said.

The resignation comes the same day Governor Quinn appointed a task force to examine how Metra is run in the wake of the board's approval of a controversial severance package for outgoing CEO Alex Clifford.

"We have to have a public transit system that works for the public. And that's what this task force is all about," Quinn said.

"If his committee can step in there, clean house, and turn things around in short order, he can take the credit for it," said ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington.

The 15-person panel includes former Fitzgerald, former CTA chair Carole Brown and IDOT secretary Ann Schneider.

"In light of everything that's happened, we want to make sure that whatever happens going forward is transparent," Schneider said.

The committee's recommendations are non-binding. They are expected to be submitted to the governor and lawmakers in Springfield starting sometime this fall.


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