First, let’s stipulate that the governor is an idiot.
According to CTA President Ron Huberman, the transit agency would have balanced its budget this year if not for the governor’s free ride programs and his elimination of a state reduced-fare subsidy.
And unlike Rod Blagojevich, I don’t think Huberman is lying.
But when Blagojevich accuses the CTA board of “taking its marching order from City Hall,” who can deny it?
The mayor appoints four members to the CTA board while the governor appoints three, and it’s clearly Daley’s board. Moreover, Daley has been mayor for 19 years. He may have inherited the perpetually troubled agency, but it’s clearly his agency – and his responsibility.
Unfortunately, the governor stepped on his message and drew attention to himself instead of leading reporters to ask where Daley’s board is in all of this. And just who is this board? Let’s take a look.
THE MAYOR’S APPOINTEES:
1. Carole L. Brown, chairwoman. Succeeded Valerie Jarrett in 2003. A managing director with Lehman Brothers. One of several officials the BGA found in 2007 who had failed to file the required state contracts disclosure form to prevent conflicts of interest.
“Carole L. Brown, the chairwoman for the Chicago Transit Authority, said that she started her blog last year because of bad press coverage,” the Columbia Chronicle reported last spring. “She said that she was reading posted comments on the Chicago Tribune’s online edition when someone called her the ‘Angel of Death.’
“’I’m not the Angel of Death,’ Brown said to a co-worker over the phone. ‘Why don’t they understand what’s going on [about the CTA budget crisis].’
“She said that she created her blog in April 2005 to get unfiltered information from the public.”
2. Rev. Charles E. Robinson. Was found by the Sun-Times in 2002 – his first year on the board – to have used his CTA pass just twice.
3. Alejandro Silva. Once appeared in a RedEye photo when budget cuts were being considered in 2005. Otherwise, a mystery.
4. Henry T. Chandler, Jr. Who?
THE GOVERNOR’S APPOINTEES:
1. Susan A. Leonis, vice-chair. “The [Emerald] casino had once seemed a sure bet and attracted a bevy of politically connected shareholders, who bought in at a rate of roughly $1.5 million for each 1 percent stake,” the Tribune once reported. “They include the wife of Timothy Degnan, a top adviser to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley [and] Susan A. Leonis, a consultant for Rosemont and a friend of Stephens, Daley and Daley’s wife, Maggie.”
2. Cynthia A. Panayotovich. An old George Ryan crony whose husband, a former state legislator, was the Ryan’s top liquor regulator.
“Panayotovich, 52, of south suburban Lansing, will be paid $25,000 a year when she starts her term Dec. 2, a day after she takes early retirement from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, where she was paid $87,840 a year as the director’s executive assistant,” the Sun-Times wrote upon her appointment. “Sam Panayotovich was the director of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, a job he resigned two years ago after the Chicago Sun-Times reported he was asking liquor companies to donate money to an obscure campaign fund. The Panayotoviches spent election night with Ryan, his family and several friends.”
3. Nicholas C. Zagotta. “Mr. Zagotta is a principal and founding member of the Law Offices of Nicholas C. Zagotta,” his firm’s website says. “In 1994, after earning a J.D. from the John Marshall Law School, Mr. Zagotta founded the Law Offices of Nicholas C. Zagotta. The firm has a concentration in Employment Law, Labor Law, Construction Law, Municipal Law and Futures and Commodities Law. Clients include municipalities, major construction firms, large real estate firms, professional athletes, hospitals, and religious orders . . .
“Prior to practicing law, Mr. Zagotta was the principal owner of Zagotta Grain, a Chicago Board of Trade commodities trading firm, from 1985 to 2004. He served on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Board of Trade from 1998 to 2000. Mr. Zagotta is still a full member of the Chicago Board of Trade.”
Of course, the board is a Combine effort.
“The Mayor’s appointees are subject to the approval of the Governor and the Chicago City Council; the Governor’s appointees are subject to the approval of the Mayor and the Illinois State Senate,” the CTA’s website says.
But make no doubt; this is the mayor’s board. He – and they – should be held accountable.