State lawmakers who are demanding that Metra officials explain a $740,000 severance deal for the agency's former CEO and the secrecy cloaking the reasons for his departure have scheduled a hearing on the matter for next week.
"Given Metra's already poor track record of managing public money, it is imperative that we learn all that we can about this separation agreement," Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, said Wednesday in a news release announcing the hearing.
Franks and Rep. Deborah Mell, D-Chicago, head of the House Mass Transit Committee, set the hearing in Chicago for July 11, a day after the agency that oversees Metra opens its own hearing on the deal.
Officials from the Regional Transportation Authority said Tuesday that they have summoned Metra Chairman Brad O'Halloran to appear before them July 10 to explain the severance package given to former CEO Alex Clifford, who had eight months left on his contract when he resigned last month.
Franks said he and Mell have asked O'Halloran and the other members of the Metra board to appear at the legislative hearing.
"And I'd also like Mr. Clifford to be there," Franks said. "It's voluntary — he doesn't have to appear. But if he doesn't, we can always hold another hearing and get a subpoena. So I would encourage him to attend."
But Clifford, in an email to the Tribune late Wednesday afternoon, said he had "not received an invitation."
The legislative hearing will be at 11 a.m. July 11 on the sixth floor of the Bilandic Building, 160 N. LaSalle St., Chicago.
The settlement between Metra and Clifford was approved after lengthy private negotiations.
Metra leaders have refused to reveal the reasons for Clifford's departure or disclose details of the severance terms, citing a confidentiality agreement that bars either side from discussing the matter except with "entities with oversight, legislative or other authority over Metra."
Clifford was hired in 2011 to clean up the agency after a vacation pay scandal involving former Executive Director Phil Pagano.Copyright © 2015, RedEye