Amid the confusion and chaos of this week’s legislative session in Springfield, the House and Senate passed a groundbreaking bill targeting the fraud, waste and corruption that plagues the Chicago area’s mass transit systems.
The bill’s supporters expect the Governor to approve the measure.
The Better Government Association has been working with Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest), good-government advocates and the RTA to craft legislation that creates an independent inspector general for the transit agency that oversees the RTA, Metra, PACE and CTA.
The resulting bill, Senate Bill 3964, was co-sponsored by Sen. Garret and Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock), and creates an independent inspector general to oversee the boards and employees at RTA, Metra, PACE, and CTA.
The inspector general will be housed in the Office of the Executive Inspector General, which already oversees the activities of the Governor’s office and its agencies.
Sen. Garrett has been working on the legislation with leaders at the transit agencies since last spring when news reports emerged detailing how Metra’s Executive Director Phil Pagano gave himself unapproved payouts on future vacation time. The unauthorized payout of $56,000 came on top of his salary of more than $250,000.
Ultimately, questions surrounding Pagano’s actions lead to his suspension. In May 2010, Pagano, 60, was found dead of an apparent suicide.
The BGA is committed to eliminating fraud, waste, and abuse of public resources. This legislation is an important step toward making the Chicago area’s mass transit systems more open and accountable.