And now more of the truth is emerging about personal and political agendas by certain METRA Board Members involved in the swift ouster of former Chief Executive Officer Alex Clifford and his over-inflated severance package. The Regional Transit Authority (RTA), which has financial oversight of METRA and other transportation agencies, conducted an in-depth audit immediately after the scandal was made public and its results are troubling indeed.
So troubling, in fact, that we can safely say that METRA Officials Lied regarding the decisions to pay Alex Clifford an exorbitant amount of money in exchange for his silence as well as redefining the power structure at the agency instead of using an insurance policy that would have indemnified METRA up to a $10 million for cases specifically covering whistle-blower and employment-retaliation lawsuits.
This insurance policy, which was purchased by METRA for $98,000 earlier this year, carried an $150,000 deductible is far less than the revised value of the severance package which now stands at a whopping $871,000 vs. the earlier reported $718,000. Of course either of these numbers are absolutely insane but $871,000? And the agency was covered against this very situation?
Well folks, it doesn’t take a fricking genius to figure out that there was something else going on at METRA. And it obviously had less to do with suppressing a whistle-blower for which they were covered and some lofty political aspirations. The real shame here is that maybe one or two board members that resigned under fire may have had a legitimate argument that they were deceived by some of their colleagues.
But let’s be clear here too – each and every board member had the obligation to gather as much pertinent information regarding their options as opposed to acting as a collective rubber-stamp. How is it that the information regarding this insurance policy was unknown, as some have suggested? Did they not all have to concur on an expenditure that would offer protection for their agency? And what of other of the multitudes of government boards in state government? Are they all run on the whims of a powerful few while others are left in the dark?
And if that is the case then the taxpayers of Illinois are in a much worse place than they already are because that would indicate that a substantial amount of government appointments are being led around by their nose-rings by agency czars who may or may not have the best interests of that particular board at the top of their priority list.
Unfortunately many who are ultimately caught for transgressions against the taxpayer are permitted to walk away without fear of prosecution because there is very little in the way of real ethics or are given generous loopholes by an equally corrupt Illinois Legislature. But kid yourselves not – these things that they do most certainly qualify as being criminal acts against the people of Illinois.
And what about the possible malfeasance of outside law firms hired by METRA to offer them legal advice? Should they not be penalized beyond getting fired? I would think at the very least that that those law firms return any fees they may have made because they certainly did not do their due diligence if they had no knowledge of what METRA had to indemnify themselves against possible litigation. Or were they purposely misled by certain board members? I mean isn’t it awful strange that the internal lawyers working for METRA were kept out of this entire process?
Hmm let’s see – what’s the definition of a conspiracy? Oh yes – “a secret plan or agreement to carry out an illegal or harmful act, esp with political motivation; plot.” So then – it seems we can safely assume that there were certain members on the METRA Board who had political motivation to remove former CEO Alex Clifford as quickly and quietly as possible.
Was this a conspiracy? I don’t know but sure sounds like one.
We already know that upon learning of the possibility that his contract would not be renewed, Clifford threatened the board he would blow the whistle on them regarding patronage hire requests and subsequent pressure to do so and that also led directly to Illinois Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan. Seems the board was stuck between a rock and a hard place as political hardball met political hardball.
Exactly what occurred leading up to the decision to offer Alex Clifford his cozy severance package is anyone’s guess but I have a theory that wouldn’t bode well for whoever pulled the strings on this. And I have no doubt that this goes much deeper than what has been revealed thus far.
There is a reason for all this deception and misleading of elected officials trying to get to the bottom of this. The big question is whether or not we will ever be told the entire truth behind it? But let us not forget that Alex Clifford, for all intents and purposes, was an outsider going toe to toe with loyal insiders of our Political Jericho. And having its walls fall down is the very last thing that Illinois Democrats and their Combine brethren desire.
Why? Because there is much money to be made off the backs of “Illinites.”
Tags: Alex Clifford, Chicago Political Commentary, Former Metra CEO Alex Clifford, Headline News, Illinois, Illinois Combine, Illinois Democrats, Illinois Legislature, Illinois Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan, Illinois Taxpayers, Jericho, Metra, METRA and Insurance Policy, METRA Board Members, METRA Board of Directors, METRA Lied, METRA Scandal, Michael J. Madigan, Nepotism, News and Opinion, Op Ed, Patronage, Political Corruption, Political Jericho, Politics, Regional Transit Authority, RTA, RTA Audit of METRA, state of Illinois, Taxes, Taxpayers, Whistle-Blower and Employment-Retaliation Lawsuits