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Fourth Metra Board Member Resigns

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A fourth member of the Metra board has now quit following the blistering criticism that the commuter rail agency has faced over the buyout of its former chief executive officer.

Mayor Emanuel’s office says the mayor and Larry Huggins spoke today and agreed Huggins would resign from the Metra Board.

“I spoke with Larry today and we both agreed that he will step down from the Metra board. Larry has a lifetime of service to our city and its neighborhoods. His decision to leave the Metra board demonstrates his commitment and will allow the agency to begin a new chapter,” Emanuel said in a statement.

“I would like to thank Mayor Emanuel for the opportunity to serve Chicago and its residents. I care deeply about this city and in recent days, it has become clear that it is time for me to step aside and allow Metra to move on,” Huggins said in a statement.

Another casualty was former chairman Brad O’Halloran.

O’Halloran sent his letter of resignation to Cook County board members Thursday afternoon.

He was among board members who OKd a more than $700,000 contract buyout for former Metra CEO Alex Clifford, who claimed he was pressured to raise the salary of an agency employee who was a political crony of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

O’Halloran is the third Metra board member to resign amid heavy criticism.

Clifford appeared before Metra’s parent organization last month and said Madigan last year sought the raise for campaign worker Patrick Ward at a time when Metra had imposed a freeze on non-union employee pay.

He also testified that another state legislator, Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago), asked him to hire someone recommended by the Latino caucus, and that two Metra board members asked him to grant the requests.

Clifford ultimately denied the requests, and Madigan’s political supporter quit his job at Metra to work for the state.

O’Halloran said the severance deal was OKd to avoid a legal battle with Clifford that would have been costly, win or lose.

Read O’Halloran’s resignation letter here.

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