Skip to comments.Feds, Durbin Join Probe into Metra's Pagano [The Rail Boss]
Posted on 05/06/2010 4:41:42 AM PDT by fight_truth_decay
In an ominous sign of a still-spreading political scandal, federal officials are probing potential misuse of U.S. funds by exiled Metra chief Phil Pagano.
In a series of developments, U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who has helped Metra obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants in recent years, called on the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation to "investigate whether any federal funds were misused or spent in any unauthorized way."
Mr. Durbin's action came after the Federal Transit Administration the USDOT unit that actually makes grants to transit operators put Metra on restricted drawdown status which means Metra can still get federal cash but with more than the usual oversight and review.
The twin actions came a week after Metra's board placed Mr. Pagano, who has been the agency's chief executive for 20 years, on administrative leave and hired a lawyer to review his performance. Those actions were triggered by questions from me [GregHinz] about whether Mr. Pagano last year received a $56,000 bonus without board approval.
(Excerpt) Read more at chicagobusiness.com ...
Now, its Phil Pagano, Metra's "gruff boss of commuter rail operations" for two decades. There is no indication in Metra's 2010 budget that "the rail boss" (nicknames even make the guy sound guilty) received extra compensation of $56,000 in addition to his annual salary of $269,625, "the same salary made the previous year," Metra Chairwoman Carole Doris has stated.
"Under his leadership the agency has added new commuter railroad lines and run generally well-regarded service, though it has been slow to add innovations like allowing passengers to pay with credit cards," reports Hinz.
From 1996 to 2004, it was reported that Pagano (now on paid leave) did take bonuses in addition to his base pay increases; but he Illinois Attorney General's office intervened in 2005 and required Metra's board to approve all top staff salaries outside of closed sessions.
(Here comes History)In 2002, it Metra board member Donald Udstuen resigned after admitting to taking bribes from a state legislator so his firms could win millions of dollars worth of contracts with the rail system.
He was later marched off to jail for 8 months after he cooperated with government's prosecution of (ratted on) former Gov. George Ryan.
[Above]16th Congressional District United States Representative Manzullo has working closely with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to return Amtrak and commuter rail to northern Illinois, -a Chicago to Dubuque Amtrak line beginning in 2012.
"Illinois was one of only three states, among 31 states chosen (as the song goes- "Be True To Your School" ), in the country to receive over $1 billion for high speed rail. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) called for a critical rail/rail flyover near 63rd and State Streets in the Englewood community on the south side of Chicago. The flyover to carry the north-south Metra Rock Island commuter rail line over the east-west Norfolk Southern/Amtrak line.
The $133 million CREATE-related grant was part of a larger $1.2 billion federal award to bring high-speed passenger rail service to Illinois by 2014.
$1.2 billion vs. [focus on] $56,000 in question? Perhaps even more in the Metra Chief's cookie jar? But, has to be like finding a needle in a smoke stack.(yes...smoke.)
There, I fixed it.