CN July 18, 2013

Mike Madigan was never all that excited about Lisa’s political career. When she first wanted to run for State Rep, he didn’t like that idea. And she had to fight him and push through to get him to take her seriously. That’s a story recounted by Laura Washington on CN this week, as she describes a conversation she had a couple of months ago with Lisa Madigan.

Laura, who in addition to her Sun-Times column and her Channel 7 political commentary is now Interim Publisher of the Chicago Reporter, tells us that Lisa Madigan, in deciding against a run for governor, was probably reacting to the “piling on” of issues regarding her father: the lack of ability to deliver pension reform and other legislation, and now the revelations that he was meddling in Metra personnel decisions.

“And I think she was trying to send a message to him as well,” she adds, “by specifically nailing him as the reason.” Was that message received? “Yea,” she says. “But he doesn’t care. Obviously. That’s why she’s not running.”

Metra, the once-proud railroad, is a mess.  But for political junkies, Wednesday’s RTA hearing was a feast of name-calling and recrimination. Former CEO Alex Clifford made serious charges about political interference in his job and was paid a lot of money to resign.

It was more than  the Tribune Editorial Board could stand, and board member Kristen McQueary explains why today’s editorial calls for the resignation of every Board member.

“These are people who have a job to run a railroad,” she asserts. “Here, they’ve let $718,000 walk out the door in what we’ve called hush money. Why should they stick around? Why should taxpayers be paying their salary and pension benefits if they’re not really experienced in running a railroad?”

There’s reference to Carol Marin’s Sunday column, in which she points out that Deb Mell, now in consideration for Alderman and currently chairman of the committee investigating the Metra mess, could call Mike Madigan before her committee. Or perhaps ask Lisa Madigan to investigate. But she’d be investigating her own father, and by the way, her brother-in-law is Metra’s Chief of Staff.

But Chris Fusco, investigative reporter for the Sun-Times, tells us there’s another issue. Many of the Metra Board members are also conflicted in subtle ways. “If you look at Larry Huggins, Riteway Construction, minority contractor at O’Hare Airport on the People Mover, lots of clout, lots of campaign contributions,” he explains.  “Brad O’Halloran, Metra Board Chair, Orland Park Village official, works for the University of Notre Dame, has some sort of transportation development company – these are guys who are flying under the radar…and that’s what’s gonna be fun to watch as you see scrutiny of the Board members as well.”

Fusco also takes us on a step-by-step tour of the intriguing story he and Natasha Korecki wrote last week about a court case that alleges Dick Mell actually had a one-third ownership in the infamous landfill that spurred the family feud between Mell and Rod Blagojevich. If the allegations prove true, it could mean legal trouble for Dick Mell, who just left the Council after nearly 40 years. He has always maintained that he never owned any part of the landfill. Fusco’s explanation is deep and detailed – more than can be encapsulated here – so it’s really worth watching.

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About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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