Now all of us know why Metra board members were so willing to spend $718,000 in public money to buy the silence of their train system’s CEO, Alex Clifford: In an eight-page memo to the board, Clifford alleged that his repeated refusal to kowtow to House Speaker Michael Madigan and other Illinois politicians had imperiled his employment.
Metra officials could have investigated Clifford’s allegations, or denied them, or for all we know disproved them. Instead they turned this into an especially galling lesson in how Illinois works: Board members tried to bury the accusations beneath their $718,000 deal with Clifford — plus whatever more of your money they’ve spent trying to hide his memo.
This isn’t just hush money. It’s protection money — intended to protect important players in the Illinois culture of political sleaze. The board members knew how explosive Clifford’s memo would be if citizens could see it; that they thought they could keep such damning allegations secret testifies as much to their clumsiness as to their grave dereliction of duty.
These Metra officials weren’t trying to serve their customers or taxpayers. No, they were hell-bent on silencing accusations of meddling by their own political masters and cronies. All but one member of this board needs to go; Jack Schaffer of McHenry has fought this scheme in which other board members are complicit. More…