Quinn Appoints Patrick Fitzgerald to Transit Reform Panel

"It’s clear that the mass transit system in northeastern Illinois is not working for taxpayers," says governor

The man who helped take down Rod Blagojevich is about to get a little busier.

Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn Thursday to the newly created Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force, an independent, 15-member panel aimed at reforming the area's transit system management amid recent scandal.

“It’s clear that the mass transit system in northeastern Illinois is not working for taxpayers,” Quinn said. “This task force is a step forward to make our transit system worthy of the public’s trust. Their recommendations will be valuable as we work in both the veto and spring sessions to reform mass transit in northeastern Illinois.”

Metra has been embroiled in legal problems since ousted CEO Alex Clifford left with a $718,000 separation agreement. Clifford has said he was forced out of the agency for resisting pressure from House Speaker Michael Madigan and others over jobs and construction contracts.

Metra's board has since lost several other members this year, including Larry Huggins, Chairman Brad O’Halloran, Paul Darley, Mike McCoy, and Stanley Rakestraw, who resigned over a residency issue just hours after Fitzgerald's appointment.

Chicago Transportation Authority board member Frank Zuccarelli, a Quinn appointee, also resigned from his position this week. He was accused of double-dipping because he received $128,000 a year as supervisor of Thornton Township along with $25,000 from the CTA.

Quinn said he wanted to form an independent task force to look at overhauling Metra management, and Sen. Dick Durbin asked for federal transportation oversight of the commuter railroad.

Enter Fitzgerald, who stepped down from his U.S. Attorney post last June. He since took a job at a Chicago law firm.

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