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Our View: Buyout deal derails Metra

Published: Saturday, June 29, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

The Northwest Herald Editorial Board offers this week’s thumbs up and thumbs down:

Thumbs down: To the Metra Board of Directors for approving last week a potential $750,000 buyout deal for former Metra CEO Alex Clifford amid a cloak of secrecy. Clifford’s hire was meant to clean up the agency plagued by the scandal with the dramatic departure of longtime Executive Director Phil Pagano, who was accused of defrauding the agency of $475,000 before committing suicide in May 2010 by stepping in front of a train. Jack Schaffer, McHenry County’s representative on the Metra Board, voted against the agreement for Clifford. Meanwhile Metra Chairman Brad O’Halloran’s only explanation for the Clifford payout was a difference of opinion. So far, not a great start in transparency or fiduciary responsibility for this supposedly transformed agency.

Thumbs up: To the Chicago Blackhawks for inviting World War ll veteran George Marek, 90, of Fox Lake, to be one of three service veterans to join the team’s anthem singer, Jim Cornelison, on the ice for Cornelison’s stirring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 22. Marek, a lifelong Blackhawks fan, said it “was the thrill of my life” to be on the ice. The group also received a standing ovation during an announcement recognizing the three veterans and their image appeared on the scoreboard. It was just one more example of the class act the Blackhawks organization is when it comes to honoring local veterans and appreciating its fans. Marek’s daughter, Sue Mlynski, deserves kudos as well for helping make it happen in the first place.

Thumbs down: To the state Legislature’s conference committee that is supposed to be dealing with pension reform. Despite being formed June 19, the 10-member panel didn’t hold its first meeting until Thursday. And at that meeting, they heard about five hours of testimony from unions, business leaders, the governor’s budget director and others who basically reiterated the same problems everyone is aware of. We all know the problem. This committee should be seeking solutions, not rehashing what they already know.

Thumbs up: To McHenry County College and its efforts to make board of trustees meetings more accessible. Starting this month, MCC began streaming board meetings live online. Meeting videos also will be archived and watched after the fact. People who can’t attend a meeting now have the opportunity to watch it live or at their convenience.

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