Stanley Rakestraw has finally submitted his resignation from the Metra Board, a day after revelations that he does not live in the district he is supposed to represent, and in fact, has never lived there during his entire term on the board.
Rakestraw was appointed by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to represent suburban Cook County, on the belief that he lived in suburban Flossmoor. But he now admits he moved from Flossmoor to a downtown Chicago condominium two years ago, after his suburban home was destroyed by fire.
Rakestraw was appointed to the Metra board January 18, 2012, five months after his house burned.
"It was always my intent to rebuild and return to Flossmoor," the resigning board member said in a letter to Preckwinkle Thursday afternoon. "However, because of declining property values, rebuilding my home became economically unrealistic."
Rakestraw says he still owns the lot where his house stood, and that he had informed Metra lawyers of his residency and was repeatedly assured it was not an issue, "given my personal situation."
"My overriding concern is, and has always been, doing the right thing for Metra," he wrote. "That includes eliminating any potential controversy which distracts the Board from its business."
Business at Metra is getting complicated. Rakestraw is the fifth board member to resign since controversy erupted over a $718,000 severance package granted to ousted Executive Director Alex Clifford. That leaves the agency with just six board members, enough to have a quorum and stage a meeting, but not enough to take major actions like electing a new chairman, or hiring Clifford's replacement.
Questions are even being raised over whether all votes on such a decimated board must be unanimous for Metra business to pass.
The agency board meets Friday morning, the first time since the controversies erupted. Among the items on the agenda is a discussion of the economies of restoring discounts for Metra's once-popular 10 ride ticket. Clifford eliminated the discount, causing ridership to drop, but it isn't clear if the economics are there to restore the discount, as many of the remaining board members have advocated.