The RTA has aggressively been looking into the Metra/Clifford separation. Unfortunately, Metra leadership took steps to ensure the RTA board, much like Illinois taxpayers, would remain in the dark about the severance package. The RTA is now using all its statutorily-granted authority to conduct a financial audit to review whether the severance agreement was a financially appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. The RTA was not a party to, nor did it approve the Clifford separation agreement, as this is not within its existing authority. In addition, the RTA does not have the authority to appoint or remove Metra, CTA or Pace Board members or stop Metra from paying Clifford the generous severance agreement to which they agreed.
As the fiscal oversight agency, the RTA board held two public meetings, which provided more than seven hours of testimony, including the only public testimony heard from Clifford. In addition, RTA staff is thoroughly reviewing thousands of documents related to this matter. When this audit is complete, the RTA will issue a report along with recommendations.
We hope that the Clifford matter can be the catalyst for something the RTA has long supported: greater authority to provide more extensive oversight of the service boards (CTA, Metra and Pace) and the authority to enforce compliance with RTA oversight. I hope to have the support of all elected officials from the six county region, especially those who have appointing authority to the RTA board, in our efforts to remedy those statutory deficiencies so that we can ensure the Northeastern Illinois region area has an efficient, well-managed and world-class transit system.