Embattled Metra Board Names Interim Director

Don Orseno named to take the reins

Metra's embattled board on Tuesday named an interim executive director for the suburban Chicago transportation agency.

Don Orseno, one of two men named by the board this summer to temporarily oversee Metra, officially takes the reins after Alex Clifford resigned in June.

Clifford received a $718,000 buyout as part a controversial arrangement that had been in the works for months. An April 3 memo from Clifford alleged political meddling by certain legislators at the transit agency and acquiescence by some board members frightened of political clout.

Since then five Metra board members have resigned, leaving the current board a party of six.

The Regional Transportation Authority last week ordered Metra's board to conduct a review after an audit determined the severance given to Clifford was not financially prudent.
RTA officials ordered Metra to review its insurance and other policies and report back in 30 days, along with implementing procedures to prevent it from happening in the future. Naming of Orseno is one of the boards first moves since meeting with the RTA.

Metra board officials have said a high severance package was issued to prevent the possibility that Clifford could sue, resulting in millions of dollars in legal fees. The RTA audit discovered that Metra had an insurance policy that would have covered the costs up to $10 million.

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