2 Investigators Prompt Deeper Metra Investigation Into Film-Kickback Claim
CHICAGO (CBS) -– Metra officials on Friday said they were seeking more answers – and potential policy changes — following a CBS 2 investigation into a former rail employee’s alleged shakedown of a film company.
The 2 Investigators earlier this week revealed that a film location manager for the movie “Source Code” complained that a Metra employee who helped coordinate the work last year tried to solicit a $2,000 bribe.
CBS 2’s report with the Better Government Association raised all kinds of questions about how Metra handles its negotiations with film companies.
Under the spotlight now is everything from personnel rules to how misconduct investigations are handled to how movie deals should be negotiated.
“I think my heart sunk” upon learning of the allegations, Metra Executive director Alex Clifford said. “It is just another contribution to these tough and tumultuous times that this agency has gone through.”
Metra has said its inspector general had already launched a probe. At a board meeting Friday, Clifford said he also has asked the I-G to investigate how Metra police initially handled the kickback allegation.
Clifford also said he is also reviewing current personnel policies to be sure they specifically and adequately cover the solicitation and acceptance of gratuities.
“And if there is something missing in our policy — although I think this is really common-sense stuff, you just don’t do this stuff — then I will make the appropriate adjustment,” Clifford said.
He said he’s checking out how other city transit systems handle film negotiations, including how much they charge. For its first four-day shoot, the “Source Code” production contracted to pay Metra $19,000.
Clifford said another question is whether the agency charged enough for its services.
“We’ll find out when we survey best practices,” he said.
The Metra employee who allegedly solicited the payoff has retired. Another employee who was also supposed to be given the money still works as a Metra operations official.
The “Source Code” location manager refused to make the payoff but reported what happened, hoping she could stop it from happening again. She may get her wish.
The film — a science fiction thriller that takes place aboard a commuter train heading into Chicago — opened early this month.