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New Chairman Promises To Cleanup Scandal-Plagued Metra

Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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(CBS) — In Springfield Wednesday, the legislative inspector general ruled that no laws were broken in the hiring scandal that led to a shake-up in the top ranks of Metra, but that hasn’t stopped Metra’s new chairman from proposing tough new hiring rules.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine spoke with new Metra Chairman Marty Oberman, who feels it’s important to Metra’s future to eliminate even the perception of politicians’ clout in hiring.

“I think if we can build credibility that Metra is not a political dumping ground but is a professional corporation. We will be able to get the financial support we need,” said Oberman.

Levine and Oberman met at a busy North Side platform where three lines converge at the last stop before Union Station and where he detailed how Metra plans on dealing with political and other recommendations.

“Log that conversation, describe it, who was the person calling who was the person recommended to be hired and that gets posted as public information,” said Oberman.

But Oberman while reporters ask about patronage and financial mismanagement, the concerns his riders shared with are more basic. One rider commented that the infrastructure seems dated, while another wanted to know about on-time records.

As Levine and Oberman boarded a train for the quick trip downtown, and ran into more commuters and concerns about the condition of Union Station, for example. Oberman says that Amtrak owns the station and Metra only pays rent, which prompted one rider to respond, “You should stop paying rent.”