Metra Retains Orseno as CEO

Don Oreno was interim CEO since Alex Clifford stepped down last summer

Metra's Board of Directors on Friday unanimously voted to retain Don Orseno as CEO of the commuter rail agency.

Orseno had been in the position as "Interim CEO" after Alex Clifford stepped down last summer in the wake of a scandal that eventually replaced six members of the board.

His salary of 262,500 is retroactive to Aug. 27, 2013.

Board member Martin Oberman said Metra "looked at the best candidates. ... None of them came up to the standards of the one we already had."

Clifford, who took the job after then-CEO Phil Pagano committed suicide in May 2010, 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 Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and other politicians and acquiescence by some board members frightened of political clout.

The Regional Transportation Authority in August ordered Metra's board to conduct a review after an audit determined the severance given to Clifford was not financially prudent. 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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