Metra board names Don Orseno interim executive director

A Metra Electric Line train passes on an overpass at 100th Street. ((AP Photo/M. Spencer Green))

August 27, 2013 9:11:53 AM PDT
The embattled Metra board named veteran railroad man Don Orseno as interim executive director for the commuter rail.

Orseno, a long time Metra employee, had been running the commuter rail agency's operations since the departure of former CEO Alex Clifford, who was offered a $700,000 buyout package to leave the transit company. The buyout led to a series of resignations within Metra and investigations into the scandal-plagued agency.

Clifford had said he was pushed out for resisting political pressure on hiring and salary. He resigned on June 21, 2013. Allegations swirled that the payout was "hush money," and led to the resignation of Metra Chairman Brad O'Halloran and Metra board members resigned four other board members .

Orseno will run the railroad until the board launches a search for a new CEO. That can't happen until the board gains at least two new members. The current board - reduced from 11 to six - because of resignations over the Clifford dismissal, is barely a quorum and can't begin the hiring process. Two new board members may be appointed as early as next month.

On Tuesday, the board members that were left also fired the agency's attorney.

In the meantime, Orseno says the professionals at Metra will keep the railroad running on time.