A second Metra board member has resigned in the wake of the controversy over the $718,000 severance package awarded to the agency's ousted CEO and the furor over patronage allegations involving House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Paul Darley, who represented DuPage County on the board, announced his resignation Tuesday in a letter to county Chairman Dan Cronin.
Darley, an Elmhurst businessman who has been on the commuter rail agency board for the past two years, said it was a "difficult" decision because he had agreed to serve as a civic duty.
"On one hand, I feel I am abandoning the Metra team at a time when it faces monumental issues, aside from this discreditable (severance) settlement and patronage situation," Darley wrote. "On the other hand, there are a lot of other places where I can invest my time and talents and won't involve Illinois politics."
Several Illinois legislators among others have called on Metra's board, particularly Chairman Brad O'Halloran, to resign after the board's June 21 decision to award Alex Clifford the severance deal, which could end up paying him as much as three times his annual salary.
Darley and other board members have defended the settlement, saying it was a prudent business decision.
"As hard as it is to swallow, the settlement was in the best interest of our riders, Metra employees and taxpayers," Darley wrote.
Cronin supported Darley, whom he had appointed, noting that Darley had donated his $15,000-a-year salary to charity and turned down other benefits. Cronin said he also backed the decision to approve the severance deal.
Neither Darley nor Cronin was available for comment.
Darley's resignation follows that of Mike McCoy, who represented Kane County. McCoy quit July 19, saying he no longer had "the time or the energy" to continue serving.
Some others on Metra's 11-member board have said they stand behind their vote on the package. Only board member Jack Schaffer of Lake County voted against the deal.
Clifford spurred anger at a hearing July 17 before the Regional Transportation Authority and in an eight-page memo by charging that O'Halloran and board member Larry Huggins improperly interfered with his authority and with the awarding of a $93 million construction contract.
More significantly, Clifford alleged that Madigan helped bring about his downfall after Clifford refused to give a raise to a Metra worker who was a Madigan foot soldier, promote another and hire a third person.
O'Halloran and Huggins have denied the allegations, as has Madigan.
On Tuesday, state Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, reiterated his demand that O'Halloran step down, after the Tribune disclosed that O'Halloran received a salary from his position as an Orland Park village trustee at the same time he was receiving compensation at Metra, which is prohibited by state law.
"Mr. O'Halloran's actions have further demonstrated that he has no regard for the proper accountability and handling of public funds," Harris said.