Franks Bill Provides New Way to Complain About RTA, Metra, Pace and the CTA

The billboard message that ticked Jack Franks off.

I’ve written previously of State Rep. Jack Franks’ personal motivation for going after Metra and RTA board members, but let me remind readers that Metra Board member Jack Schaffer owns Liberty Outdoor, the company that puts up small billboards favored by politicians and Al Jourdan still is active in McHenry County Republican politics.

Neither favor having Jack Franks represent McHenry County in Springfield or Washington.

Specificity ticking off Franks this past fall was one billboard on Route 47 going into Woodstock.

On the trip from Chicago to Crystal Lake this engine got a snow facelift. It is beginning its reverse trip Downtown.

With that background, it is still possible for a piece of legislation motivated at least in part to make trouble for political enemies to serve a solid public purpose. Few would argue that Metra could use a bit more oversight.

Franks guided State Senator Susan Garrett’s Senate Bill 3965 through the Illinois House. It passed the House 92-21-1, the Senate 53-3. (The “No” votes in both the houses came from Downstate Republicans. All local legislators voted for the bill.)

Wonder Lake Pace bus on Route 47 in Woodstock.

And, even though Franks did not support Governor Pat Quinn in the primary election, Quinn put Franks’ name in his press release. (Good move on Quinn’s part.)

The bill “brings oversight of the regional transit boards under the jurisdiction of the Executive Inspector General and Executive Ethics Commission,” the press release announced.

After noting the sponsorship, the release further explained that the legislation “requires each regional inspector general to submit a monthly report to the Executive Inspector General which will outline, among other things, the agency’s reported complaints, as well as investigation status and outcomes.

“The Executive Inspector General will work to detect and prevent fraud and mismanagement at all levels of the transit agencies…Senate Bill 3965 has an effective date of July 1.”

CTA Repid Transit crossing the Chicago River.

Let me augment that summary by showing you the bill summary legislators saw:

  • Jack Franks

    Amends the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. Provides that, beginning January 1, 2011, the Executive Inspector General has jurisdiction over all board members and employees of the Regional Transit Boards and all vendors and others doing business with the Regional Transit Boards to investigate allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, misconduct, nonfeasance, misfeasance, malfeasance, or violations of the Act.

  • Requires the board of each Regional Transit Board to designate an ethics officer. Authorizes Regional Transit Boards to hire an Inspector General to receive complaints and conduct investigations in accordance with an ordinance or resolution adopted by the Board.
  • Authorizes the Executive Inspector General to disclose otherwise confidential information to an Inspector General appointed or employed by a Regional Transit Board.
  • Specifies additional duties for the Executive Inspector General.
  • Details the responsibilities of Inspectors General appointed or employed by a Regional Transit Board, which include, among other things, the filing of monthly activity reports with the Executive Inspector General.
  • Provides that, in specified portions of the Act: “appointee” and “officer” include a person appointed to serve on the board of a Regional Transit Board and “employee” and “State employee” include a full-time, part-time, or contractual employee of a Regional Transit Board.
  • Defines “Regional Transit Boards” and “board members of Regional Transit Boards”.
  • Amends the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act to provide that a member of the Chicago Transit Authority may be removed by the Governor in response to a summary report issued by the Executive Inspector General provided he or she has an opportunity to be publicly heard in person or by counsel prior to removal.
  • Amends the Regional Transportation Authority Act to provide that directors of the Regional Transportation Authority and members of the Suburban Bus Division and Commuter Rail Division may be removed by the Governor in response to a summary report issued by the Executive Inspector General, provided that they have an opportunity to be publicly heard in person or by counsel prior to removal. Effective July 1, 2011.
  • Provides that within 30 days after the effective date of the amendatory Act, a Regional Transit Board must notify the Executive Ethics Commission of (rather than “or”) any person serving on that date as an Inspector General for the Regional Transit Board.

Missing from Quinn’s press release is his newly-enacted power to remove Metra, RTA, CTA and Pace board members.

Also missing is that board members could be removed for “nonfeasance.”

So, if you have ethical complaints about any mass transit agency, there soon will be a way to get more people to look at them now.

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