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State Rep. Wants Metra Board Replaced

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roberts250 Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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CHICAGO (CBS) - A northwest suburban legislator wants the Metra board replaced. But the chairman of the commuter rail agency’s board said his criticisms are off-base.

Metra Chairman Carole Doris said State Rep. Jack Franks’ “attack was based upon an erroneous view of the law and a twisted presentation of information.”

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In a prepared statement, Doris said Metra board members are paid as employees because Internal Revenue Service regulations require it, and said that as employees, board members always have been part of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) pension plan.

She said she considers the treatment of Metra board members no different from that of the CTA, Pace and RTA boards and numerous state-sanctioned boards.

Franks (D-Woodstock) accused Doris of seeking reimbursement for hotel rooms and limousine rides. Doris said she routinely does not seek reimbursement for meals, travel to and from board meetings and other Metra-related expenses.

“Indeed, a simple review of the documentation would show that I routinely do not seek reimbursement for these items,” she said.

She said Metra representatives have made “multiple attempts” to speak with Franks in recent days, but were told that he was unavailable.

Doris is an attorney, but said she has checked with outside counsel to make sure she is on firm legal ground.

Others at Metra question whether Franks has an ax to grind. His law firm represents the widow of former Metra Executive Director Phil Pagano, who committed suicide in May 2010 and has been accused in subsequent investigations and reports with a series of financial irregularities. The Metra board was expected to fire Pagano the morning he walked in front of one of his own trains.