Digital Access

Digital Access
Access nwherald.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.
Local Editorials

Our View: Metra probe is welcome

Controversy surrounding the departure of Metra Chairman Alex Clifford is emblematic of one of several key things wrong with Illinois government, and a thorough probe could be an opportunity for a thorough scrubbing.

If you believe the critics, and at this point they seem to be winning the argument, Clifford was brought in as a reformer to restore the agency beleaguered by the scandalous departure and suicide of former Executive Director Phil Pagano.

Critics, including Jack Schaffer, McHenry County’s representative on the Metra Board, say Clifford’s problem was that he took them seriously and actually tried to reform Metra. Most would argue that reforming a government agency would include things such as stopping patronage hiring and raises.

The latest bombshell surrounding Clifford’s generous severance package of more than $700,000, which critics argue was a check from Metra hierarchy in exchange for Clifford’s silence, were allegations that House Speaker Michael Madigan was putting patronage demands on Metra.

Today, Clifford has been given some latitude to break his silence contract, and he is expected to answer questions from the Regional Transportation Authority. The RTA’s chief of staff has bowed out of the inquiry, since Madigan is his father-in-law.

State Rep. Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, also wants a hearing before the House Mass Transit Committee, although compelling Clifford to testify at such a hearing would require the blessing of ... you guessed it, Speaker Madigan.

For too long, patronage has been more important to Illinois politicians than taxpayer dollars, efficiency and good government. If that’s what happened at Metra, the public deserves the facts, an explanation and accountability.

However that inquiry happens and in whatever forum, Clifford must be able to speak freely. Spending $700,000 of public money to keep the public from knowing what happened is truly a scandal, even in Illinois.

Loading more