Preckwinkle and Emanuel Sabotaged METRA

Preckwinkle and Emanuel Sabotaged METRA
Can Toni Be Trusted? (Image: Public Domain)

The details behind the METRA Scandal just keep coming out. And those details illustrate how the Chicago Democratic Machine continues to operate under the radar and how past assertions by political observers that machine politics were dead has been (to borrow a phrase) “greatly exaggerated” by them. The fact is the Democratic Machine is not only alive and well but politicians who have tried passing themselves off as being one of the new fangled reform-minded leaders who will provide constituents with a transparency never seen before – just isn’t true.

To put it another way – I think they lie through their teeth!

Of course I have written plenty about being careful what one wishes for, especially when it came to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Emanuel, at least, was easy to figure out given the information available about him on the web and in newsprint. So anticipating that he would run City Hall much the same way he ran things while serving former President William Jefferson Clinton in the White House was, well, easy. Hey, I can’t help it that actions speak louder than words – its just the way it is you know?

Toni Preckwinkle, though, wasn’t as easy to figure out after watching and listening to her numerous times on PBS’ Chicago Tonight. However I will say this about her – she sure can talk as good a game as the best of them around here. Still, what ultimately done her in my mind was her unwavering support for Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios. Let’s face it, when it comes to political patronage, nepotism and delusions that he is somehow like John F. Kennedy – this guy really takes the cake.

Anyhow, when news came out that Preckwinkle and Emanuel Sabotaged METRA, it was just par for the course. As usual, it was just more of the same old political bullshit we get on a daily basis from our less than stellar politicians. But again, their actions speak louder than words. And what they did to protect their interests and a politically dysfunctional transportation board has only led to the realization that taxpayers are being handed a larger tab to pay on their behalf.

Particularly disturbing is yet another “special” relationship between Toni Preckwinkle and former METRA Board Member Larry Huggins.But one thing is becoming very evident about Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle – she is not the reformer she claimed to be. Naturally that should have been crystal clear even before the METRA scandal when she fired MaryNic Foster as Cook County Ethics Chief after beginning an investigation into none other than her longtime political ally Joseph Berrios.

Matter of fact, Preckwinkle’s continued support of Berrios borders on the perverse and I have to wonder what else is going on there. Of course that is just my own opinion but I have been following Chicago Politics nearly my entire life and their relationship is curious at best.

As for Preckwinkle and Emanuel Sabotaging METRA that involves a political deal that was struck with State Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills) after Phil Pagano committed suicide by stepping in the front of one of his own agency’s trains after financial irregularities were discovered there.

Senator Link, who was ready to dismantle the METRA Board of Directors and had the necessary votes to do exactly that, came into an agreement with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and allegedly Rahm Emanuel. That deal was to allow the board members to quietly retire by June 30, 2012 but Preckwinkle and Emanuel reneged in what appears to be a game of political slight of hand.

Rahm Emanuel says he never agreed that Larry Huggins be included in that agreement and 3 weeks after a June 22, 2011 letter signed by four State Senators and copied to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the five effected suburban METRA Board Chairmen stipulating that – Toni Preckwinkle (according to the Chicago Sun-Times) “wrote a letter to the same four lawmakers, saying Emanuel never agreed to let Huggins retire. In addition, Preckwinkle wrote that Huggins, with whom she had worked when she was an alderman, “has been a great help to me and I cannot and will not advocate to replace him in his current role on the Metra Board.”

And that folks, is how you sabotage a deal the Chicago Way!

Larry Huggins was Emanuel’s and Preckwinkle’s man at METRA and they evidently didn’t care whether or not the agency continued to go down the same path it was on under Phil Pagano. Besides Huggins has been a loyal political organizer and campaign contributor for Toni Preckwinkle. So it should make perfect sense that the Cook County Board President was going to protect the $$$.

After all, isn’t it always about the money in Chicago?

And don’t forget Larry Huggins has made plenty of money after filing bankruptcy in the ’70 via Affirmative Action. His contracts have included construction at O’Hare International Airport, McCormick Place and was General Contractor for Cook County Hospital amid controversy when his company, Riteway Construction Services Inc missed filing its 1997 corporate annual report leading to its dissolution just prior to the groundbreaking after fours years in the making.

Now when it comes to Rahm Emanuel, even if I were to give him a pass on this one (and I’m not saying I am) the fact that Toni Preckwinkle has shown her true colors as being just another one of the rabid Machine Politicians who have taken over as Cook County Board President we must remind ourselves that the Cook County Board of Commissioners have had a long history of political patronage and corruption. I can still vividly remember the days when Richard B. Ogilvie and George W. Dunne ran roughshod over the taxpayers of the county.

I am just not sure that we need to keep electing the same wolves in sheep’s clothing for that position. I don’t know maybe it is just impossible to find an honest politician in Chicago and/or Illinois these days, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying to find one that has some real honor and integrity. Because if we don’t then I shudder to think what it will be like for future generations.

I just wonder if the People of Chicago (Illinois) will ever wake up?

And finally elect people with real integrity.

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  • I don't think you have much here. Emanuel eventually did force out Huggins, and it was pretty clear that Huggins's angle was minority contractors, whatever one thinks of that, while it wasn't clear what O'Halloran's real interest was (I doubt that it was only the $25,000 double dipping).

    O'Halloran was there only because the chairperson at the time of the Pagano mess (Carole Doris) left. So, any promise to replace the then existing board would have been hollow, even if it had been implemented.

    As I have said previously, the Metra board is only the tip of the iceberg; the whole mess is a political construct of 47 members on 4 transit boards, Richard M. Daley turning the CTA board into a private political fiefdom, Quinn and Emanuel appointing legal incompetents, Todd Stroger's appointee to the RTA board being forced to resign because he was accused of defrauding the state, and the current so called experts, like Ranney thinking that merging Metra and Pace makes any sense or accomplishes anything.

  • In reply to jack:

    Not so sure Jack. Emanuel only fired him because of the shit storm that erupted in Springfield and knew if he didn't fire him (after the fact) that he would be punished by a Legislature already tiring of his meddling into their domain. Rahm has not achieved the carte blanc power old man Daley had there because there are those other egos to deal with. However you right in your view of the why behind the angles. And you are most definitely right on this being the Tip of the Iceberg!

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    Emanuel apparently had the change of heart to force Huggins out after the word got out about Rush wanting a contract for the National Black Chamber of Commerce to apparently do nothing.

    Which, of course, gets Rush into the crud.

    Other than that, supposedly the "agreement" is with Terry Link, who the Daily Herald has been accusing of being behind a back door provision in the Internet voter registration bill taking away elections from the Lake County Clerk and establishing a board of elections at great cost. Link denies having to do anything with it, but the Daily Herald is at least "skeptical." So, I don't know if I believe him, either.

    With regard to the bill itself, it is being attacked as violating Illinois Constitution Article IV section 13 that the legislature may not pass special or local laws when a general law could be applicable. While a one county law based on population usually is justified by "some other county could grow into that," that isn't the case with this legislation, which reportedly applies to "a county bordering only two other counties and one other state." So, someone blows more money on lawyers based on another back room deal to which no legislator will admit.

  • In reply to jack:

    I am sure if Emanuel could have he wouldn't have - but again one has to choose your battles if he expects the Legislature to back him on his agenda. So sure it was painful (good!) for him with Huggins. Bobby Rush? What can one say about this yo-yo that hasn't? We definitely know how he plays the game.

    The Terry Link thing you bring up, though, is something new to me and will have to do some research (thanks). If you are right though that sucks and diminishes his credibility. Although I do remember he was involved in the METRA brouhaha after Pagano checked out of life with a splat. So I have no doubt he was double-dealt on this issue by Precki and Rahmbo.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    Use this search. on the Daily Herald site.

    Heck, I even gave Steve Dale a hard time on his chicagonow Pets blog about falling for the Quinn "signing ceremony" act.

  • In reply to jack:

    You know I can see that coming from you Jack hahaha. How did he take it? Now there are some bloggers on CN who, well, think you hit them a little hard but I have always said that" this guy is someone who will keep you honest in your writing."

  • Steve Dale did respond in a straight forward manner. You can follow it here. And I didn't even call the media a tool. Now if Mully and Hanley blog after putting Quinn on this morning.....

  • In reply to jack:

    I see and I'd say you both make good points. Although I must admit this household has tired of our pandering Publicity Seeking Hound of a Governor.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    "Hound" would put it in Dale's territory. Although I would rather have the yawning dog.

  • In reply to jack:

    lol have you ever seen Quinn yawn at a photo-op?

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    And I hope I never do.

  • Good post, Michael. I interviewed Preckwinkle as a member of the Sun-Times editorial board when she ran as an independent for alderman. She made a convincing case that she was a reformer (and we endorsed her as I recall), but she sure has come a long way since then. Any connection with Huggins tells the story.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Thank you so much Dennis Byrne, means a lot coming from you as you have had a finger on the political heartbeat around here for quite awhile. Like you and the editorial board, I was more than willing to give Preckwinkle (or anyone else for that matter) an honest chance but actions speak louder than words and the Chicago Democrats here have shown their true colors time and time again. All to the detriment of the people and most important the taxpayers.

    Again thanks so much.

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