CTA Prez Rodriguez values family time over a CTA commute -- as he should

The Sun-Times reported Monday that CTA President Richard Rodriguez was yanking the “company cars” that 68 employees could enjoy at home and at work. Rodriguez himself and 37 other top managers making six figures will lose the perk — or pay about $200 a month plus gas to lease it from the city. Good for him.

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In the same article, the Sun-Times mentioned a fact that others media have noted in the past: Rodriguez prefers to drive his city car to work so he can spend some extra quality time with his five young children, dropping them at school or day care. The story also noted that Rodriguez is a regular CTA rider. I’ve also noted that fact. So fine. He’s a family man but also finds time to experience the CTA.

But then Tuesday the Sun-Times editorialized that Rodriguez should forget about family bonding and ride the CTA to work every day:

“How else can he fully appreciate what his customers go through when
they wait on a dark winter morning for a bus that never comes?”

Well, I happen to support Rodriguez’s decision to ditch public transit and spend what precious little “free time” he has with his children. I figure, as long as he is a regular rider otherwise, then he should be allowed to do what he thinks is best for himself and his family.

I suspect many of you will disagree with me. So be it.


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  • As long as he understands the system he runs, there is no reason for him to use it for every trip. That Sun-Times editorial seems really insensitive. We have this belief in America that work should dominate all, but Rodriguez seems to have his priorities straight. Plus, if he uses a car, he will spend a lot of time in traffic, a constant reminder of how important the CTA is to Chicago, something people sometimes seem to forget.

  • I'm all for his priority of family time. In fact, I would love that too, as would a lot of other CTA riders. It's too bad that we don't have the option of a company car to use instead. Perhaps, if he were forced to ride the CTA to work instead of use that car, he would see the strain that his system puts on our family time. He is one person who is in a unique situation to do something to fix it.

  • I wondered why I saw a CTA SUV parked in a residential area near Golf Mill (not CTA territory) a couple of years ago. I guess we won't be seeing it there now.

    The Tribune used to track how many times CTA Execs' passes registered on the Chicago Card reader. Pretty high for Frank and Terry Levin, not very often for Carole Brown (who talked about having to get to her then real job, since eliminated by the financial crash) and Sheila Gregory, head mouthpiece. It would be interesting to see what the figures are today.

    Also, I wonder if all the TV news investigations about CTA staff abusing handicap parking placards and such around the Lake Street headquarters have had any effect.

    Basically, if you work for the CTA, you should ride it to work, whenever possible. As for your comment about Rodriguez, I don't care how he gets his children to school, so long as his pass racks up at least 1000 rides a year, and he isn't driving them in a CTA nonrevenue vehicle using CTA nonrevenue fuel.

  • I give him props for not only taking away some of these cars, but for taking the perk away from himself. He is showing that his decisions affect him, not just everyone else which is good.

    I assume he'll be paying the $200 for the car for when he needs it. I'm glad he does use the CTA often. There is no better way to understand the CTA than to use it as much as possible in as many different areas.

    I have no beef with him trying spend more time with his family. In fact, he has a job that probably could allow him to work from home on occasion.

  • I was emailed a comment from SPT, who said s/he was having trouble registering and signing in to the site to comment. Since s/he has a different take on the issue, I wanted to share it.

    Comment from SPT:

    I think the real story here is: what employees (positions, not names) have take home cars and why do they need them? Have they been reporting this to the IRS? Are they on-call 24 hours a day? Are they suits in the president's office - or people who actually respond to service interruption and emergencies?
    That's the story I would like to know about. Other bloggers have posted in the past that Huberman had 4 cars assigned to him- one at home, one at work, and to assigned to the minions who drove him and then took the cars home themselves. Does a similar situation exist in Rodriguez's office?
    Since there were 68 take-home cars and there are now going to be 38, who is losing them? People who never should have had them? That Sun-Times story was incomplete at best, and the follow-up left even more questions.

  • I am trying to figure out the motive of the press and those who comment on what a leader of the 2nd largest US transit agency does in terms of getting his family to school/day care. Is it just the usual banter of executive level employees vs non executive level employees or just that people think it's odd that Mr. Rodriguez prefers to spend time with his young family before they grow up. Admittedly it looks bad for the leader to not use the service he is responsible for but I take transit whenever time/baggage is not a factor but if I can't bc of time/baggage considerations, I drive or take a taxi too.

    So if the motive is the classic have/have nots - can't do a thing about that since that particular fight is biblical, we have to accept it and take heart on the move to drop the perks of a company Crown Vic, need to applaud that move in our current financial climate. If the motive is to embarrass Mr. Rodriguez, well, ultimately he just wants to spend more time with his family and he shouldn't have to be called out for it - anyone with a family member they like to be with or young children could understand that. He takes the CTA the other times and is accountable for the CTA no matter how he gets to work.

    Some of my fondest memories of my son when he was younger was walking with him to the El and then once I was up on the platform, I would wave at him as he was walking home. It's doubtful he remembers those daily walks but I do and they are permanently intertwined with the CTA. Additionally, my son learned his numbers by reading the CTA buses.

    I too would be interested to know how many CTA employees take the service to work each day - that information has to be available and easily accessible and could be posted weekly on transitchicago.com or presented as a quick item in the monthly CTA board meeting.

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    Good for you 20fie18. I said this elsewhere and I'll repeat it here--I have tons of memories of important things that happened to me as a child that my father missed because of work. This isn't Carole Brown complaining about the dirty buses, this is a guy trying to spend as much time as he can with his kids. I don't see how people can argue with that. I don't have children, I don't even like children all that much, but I can understand his reasoning.

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    Two things:
    1) Whatever his motivation or reasons, it is a TERRIBLE PR move to peg his children and family against the product he's in charge of selling to the public. Some of you may commend him for family values or his honesty, but it is outrageously amaturish for RRod to even have gone there and let this become a debate. I think most reaction has been to the whole "perk" thing and whether taxpayers are being hosed, instead of just looking at it from just a plain 'ole marketing perspective. No CEO of any company is going to go on record saying that he doesn't consume his company's product because it's bad for his family. No one--even if it's true.

    2) As far as tax-payers being hosed, I agree with SPT: the real story is whether those 38 cars were really doled-out to execs with no safety or quick-response operational purpose and whether those execs actually were taking those cars home or not. In other words: name some names Sun-Times, otherwise this isn't an interesting story. Back on RRod: if he does in fact have a personal reason to drive--ok, but then USE your own car and pay for parking in a lot near your office. Don't get on your high-horse and pat yourself on your back for paying your $200 a month lease on a car probably purchased with precious Federal capital dollars. And what is that free-parking worth downtown--probably another $200 a month! If the reason you need to drive to work is personal, then you should not use a CTA car no matter what you pay them. That's not how it should work.

    This is bad PR moves for RRod all around.

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