South Holland's De Graff says he won't quit Metra board

2013-09-12T14:10:00Z 2013-09-13T00:03:04Z South Holland's De Graff says he won't quit Metra boardGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent
September 12, 2013 2:10 pm  • 

CHICAGO | At a time when Republican members of the Cook County Board are trying to get Metra board officials to resign in the wake of financial problems at the commuter railroad, a south suburb’s representative says he has no intention of quitting.

Don De Graff, the South Holland village president who also serves on Metra’s board of directors, is not following the lead of other Metra officials, who in recent weeks have indicated a willingness to be replaced.

“We’re all very competent people who want to deal with the problems facing Metra,” De Graff said, saying he has no intention of leaving before his term expires June 30, 2016.

“It would make no sense for any of us to leave now,” De Graff said. “We have serious problems to address, and very competent people who are capable of dealing with them.”

But some Metra members have been willing to leave. Most recently, Arlene Mulder, of Arlington Heights, said she will quit when her term ends next year, while William Widmer, of Evanston, offered his resignation earlier this week.

The departures come in the wake of significant public attention due to financial problems, particularly the approval back in June of a sizable severance package for former Metra CEO Alex Clifford.

Among those calling for the departures are the Republican members of the Cook County Board — Gregg Goslin of Glenview; Timothy Schneider of Elk Grove Village; Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman of Orland Park and Peter Silvestri of Elmwood Park. They sponsored a resolution this week that asks all suburban Cook County Metra appointees to resign.

“The public has grown suspicious and skeptical as more allegations surface making it impossible for the remaining Metra board directors to continue in their positions with any public confidence,” the resolution reads.

The Metra railroad board consists of 11 people, five of whom are chosen by officials from each of the Illinois counties that surround Cook. The Chicago mayor and Cook County Board president each get a pick, while suburban county commissioners get to pick people from their respective areas.

That resolution was referred to a County Board committee for further study, as was another resolution introduced by Commissioner Jeffery Tobolski, D-McCook, that urges the Illinois General Assembly to come up with specific guidelines for the county to follow when choosing Metra board members.

Tobolski said it would help the County Board if there were qualifications needed to serve on the Metra board.

Tobolski’s resolution says that currently the only requirement is the people picked by Cook County must live within the Cook County suburbs.

As for qualifications that should be set by the state, Tobolski’s resolution says, “Chief among these requirements should be a threshold age limit, educational level and professional background.”

The County Board is scheduled to meet again Oct. 2, although it is not known if any action will be taken on either resolution.

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