Metra rail agency defends costly buyout of ex-CEO

July 10, 2013

The Associated Press

Flickr/vxla
File: Metra train. The chairman of Chicago's Metra commuter rail agency is defending a costly buyout of its former executive director.

The chairman of Chicago's Metra commuter rail agency is defending a costly buyout of its former executive director against criticism that it represents a shocking misuse of taxpayer money.

Brad O'Halloran says threats of a lawsuit by former CEO Alex Clifford forced Metra to agree to a deal that could give Clifford as much as $718,000.

O'Halloran was called before the Regional Transportation Authority Wednesday to explain the settlement to its board of directors, who have financial oversight over Metra and other Chicago transit agencies.

Clifford resigned June 21 after months of negotiations. He has suggested he was being pushed out in retaliation for resisting pressure to hand out patronage jobs.

O'Halloran says there's nothing to substantiate the claim, but letting it go to court would have cost taxpayers millions.