Carole Brown's CTA legacy: Steering the ship through rough waters

Former CTA Board Chairwoman Carole Brown took the helm in 2003. That means she has seen much change, and helped guide the transit agency through times of great change, growth and turmoil. She resigned this week.

Here's a very short list of the legacy she leaves behind:

  • Let former President Frank Kruesi make a mess of the Block 37 fiasco.
  • Created her own blog in 2005 to communicate with passengers, but then pretty much neglected it in the last year or so.
  • Lobbied effectively in Springfield for more funding.
  • Got more tax dollars from the state, but then had to raise fares when there wasn't enough of that new tax revenue to cover rising operating costs.
  • Led the board as good stewards of more than a half billion in federal dollars to expand ridership on the Brown Line.

Brown noted in a Tribune story that "Ron [Huberman] and I had a simpatico that I missed" when Richard Rodriguez took over as CTA president. Though she said that's not why she it quitting.

And the Sun-Times reports that Mayor Daley is not wasting time in looking for her replacement. He's already interviewed three or four candidate.


Filed under: CTA in the news

Tags: Carole Brown, CTA


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  • Hmmm, no calls from the Mayor yet.

    It perplexes me why I haven't been appointed yet.....


  • In reply to KevinB:

    Have you made your contribution to HDO yet?

  • In reply to KevinB:

    From your summary of her accomplishments, it sounds like she was able to get funding for the CTA from state and federal sources, but was unable to do much else.

  • In reply to KevinB:

    Chris: That's probably as much of a blase comment that could be constucted about her tenure there...she didn't do alot other than look "concerned".

    Jack: I'm just waiting for the HDO to tell me how much...besides, I thought they had that down to a science....Isn't there a payroll deduction plan for those type of donations?


  • In reply to KevinB:

    Too bad we don't have departure of most of the members of all 3 boards - then there could be a chance to apply some of changes brought up last month to Chicago area transit leadership. There was a good amount of feedback/questioning why we need so many boards each competing for a piece of the same transit pie. But with politics, there is little reason to power share and disrupt the status quo so we'll wait for the Mayor and Governor to appoint.

    Are these departures a precursor to the announcement that Chicago will or will not get the Olympics?

    Oh, and as of 2006, Carol Brown earned $25,000 per year as a Board member. This was published in a CTA press release so the savings per month isn't that significant.

  • In reply to KevinB:

    The real issue is that about 24 hours before Carole Brown and Susan Leonis "submitted" their resignations, Moody's downgraded CTA's debt. That means CTA will have great difficulty raising more capital in absence of federal/state monies that will never show up. Moody's name is tarnished because they gave AAA ratings to questionable packaged sub-prime mortgage debt, but it is still negative for CTA. Doomsday, here we come.

  • In reply to marthat3:

    Could be, since they were the only two who purportedly knew something about finance. I guess the Board still has Rev. Robinson, who can pray for a solution to Doomsday, as he did in Jan. 2008.

    Until the issue came up with regard to the Douglas and Brown Line projects, the RTA wouldn't authorize the CTA to issue bonds. The bonds mentioned in the previous sentence were secured by the New Start Full Funding Agreements, so their payment wasn't much at risk.

    Then, various Huberman President's Reports stated that bonds could be sold to fund Options 3 and 4 (buses 1630-2029), presumably by mortgaging future entitlement to federal 5307 and similar funds. Following that, there was the lease deal with Traxis for 4000-4149, in which Traxis said that the sole security was the buses, and did not involve priority rights in any federal or state grant stream. However, there must have been some assurance of a revenue stream to pay the $13 million per year due under the lease, as I really doubt that Traxis (a Cerberus company) really wants to repossess and resell 150 hybrid articulated buses (especially since its NABI subsidiary appears to be stuck with approximately 225 other ones).

    CTA has also entered into various leaseback deals involving the NovaBuses and the Green and Orange Lines, supposedly secured by various trust arrangements.

    Of course, after it was revealed that CTA had made and then deferred the order for another 140 buses, it appeared that the state did not come through with the mini-capital bill money.

    So, I can see how CTA is bonded to the gills, even though the sources of payment of them are not clear to the public. However, Carole, Susan, and Moody's apparently know what they are.

  • In reply to jack:

    I should have also thrown in Carole's real legacy--the pension bonds secured by the real estate transfer tax increase. Since the real estate market is in the dumpster (at least this year), I don't know if the CTA has to make that up from other sources.

  • In reply to jack:

    An article from The Bond Buyer about this. Apparently it was the pension bonds.

  • In reply to KevinB:

    I saw that in Bond Buyer and considered it a direct result of RTA decisions and less than anticipated tax revenue. Whatever the reason, the end result is the same, A1 isn't too bad but yes it's more expensive to borrow. My bet is still Olympic Politics - make way for board members with Olympic-like venue experience.

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    But that's assuming now about something that will become certain (one way or the other) in 7 days, plus or minus a few hours.

  • In reply to jack:

    Check out .... One way or another we'll know soon. Seems odd that transit in Chicago didn't register as a con but that sore feelings from Utah did. If President Obama heads to Denmark for a chat, some cheese, and a beer, 2016 will probably be here or Tokyo.

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    Well, according to the Sun-Times, Terry Peterson got the appointment. All one can say is Daley keeps rotating his hacks, so no new perspective, like Carole Brown requested. Also, apparently not a person with Olympic-like experience.

    Not that it makes much difference. However, if an "Ask Terry" blog appears to ask people outside of the city to "support funding," forget it Terry.

  • "Created her own blog in 2005 to communicate with passengers, but then pretty much neglected it in the last year or so."

    I see she also deleted all the comments.

    Also, you noted the Block 37 fiasco. Frank didn't get mentioned in any of the news reports, although she said in her farewell "I wouldn

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