Kass: Oh Lisa, save us!

When would Lisa Madigan, the people's champion, hold a news conference to announce that she'd begun investigating the Metra scandal?

You'd think it would be a no-brainer for someone who wants to protect the beleaguered taxpayers.

First, there's the hush-money issue. Then there's all that political intrigue. Also, don't forget about the alleged patronage and contract issues, which reportedly led to Clifford's ouster.

Apparently, Clifford didn't want to hire people based on their skin pigment, or their political connections, or give out contracts based on political connections. In Madiganistan, this is an outrage. So the Metra board arranged to pay him off and say goodbye.

Brad O'Halloran, a southwest suburban Democrat, is the Metra board chairman. Years ago he got a nice piece of juicy O'Hare Airport contracts, because he was partnered with the famed City Hall political "expediter" Jeremiah Joyce, who was in the inner circle of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

One of Daley's most trusted advisers once described Joyce as the Keyser Soze of Chicago politics.

These days, the southwest suburbs, and the rest of the state, are under the claw of Boss Madigan. And Lisa Madigan, the people's lawyer, is Boss Madigan's daughter.

O'Halloran voted for the hush money but has been highly critical of Clifford. When the deal was revealed June 21, Tribune reporter Richard Wronski quoted O'Halloran as saying:

"While we want every dollar possible to go directly to serving our passengers, this payment is a small price to pay for future goals of garnering more state and federal investment in Metra and taking Metra in a different direction."

After all, who wouldn't want to invest in a corrupt public transportation system with little or no oversight run by a bunch of politicians who dance when the boss plays the bagpipes?

Only one Metra board member, Jack Schaffer, refused to dance. He voted against the hush money. "Hell, no," Schaffer said during the vote.

So on Thursday I asked Lisa Madigan's office when she'd announce her investigation. Again, she's thinking about running for governor, and she's the people's attorney, and there's that big stinky Metra onion perfuming all the daily train commuters who suffer delays and service problems.

Guess what?

Lisa isn't investigating Metra or whether her dad is involved.

Amazing, no?

"The facts involving the Metra CEO's departure are just starting to emerge as this committee hearing gets underway," said a Madigan spokeswoman. "It is important that the committee continue this work to ensure the public is aware of all the facts at hand."

That's the committee of the legislature that Boss Madigan controls. The committee where hacks can speak freely while the fellow receiving the hush money keeps his mouth shut.

Oh, Lisa. Lisa Madigan. Where are you in this, our hour of need?

Save us, Lisa Madigan. Please, save us Lisa.

We'll leave the light on for you. The Lisa Light.

jskass@tribune.com

Twitter @John_Kass

CHICAGO

More