April 19, 2024

McHenry County's Metra representative resigns over time conflicts

McHenry County’s new representative on the Metra Board is stepping down only a year into his four-year term, citing schedule conflicts.

Former McHenry County Board member Marc Munaretto got the appointment in June 2014 to represent the county's suburban commuter rail interests. But the time required has increasingly conflicted with his work and travel schedule, he said in a Monday resignation letter to County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller, R-Crystal Lake. His resignation takes effect at the end of the month.

“I decided, since there are three years left in my term, that it would be appropriate to step down and give someone with more time to devote to Metra the ability to fill that appointment,” Munaretto said Wednesday morning.

Munaretto, of Algonquin, owns a commercial real estate and brokerage company. He served on the County Board from 1998 to 2012, when he did not seek re-election. Board members appointed him to the job in 2014 after two-term Metra representative Jack Schaffer announced he would not seek reappointment to a third four-year term.

McHenry County has representatives on the boards of Metra, Pace and the Regional Transportation Authority who oversee them along with the Chicago Transit Authority.

Munaretto’s appointment came after back-to-back corruption scandals at Metra that tarnished the agency’s credibility, outraged lawmakers and prompted several reforms.

Former Metra CEO Phil Pagano killed himself in 2010 near his rural Crystal Lake home by stepping in front of a Metra train hours before his board was set to fire him for collecting $475,000 in unauthorized vacation payouts and other fiscal irregularities. Pagano, who it turns out was supporting two other households besides his own and had a number of extramarital affairs, borrowed so much against his executive compensation package that he died owing Metra at least $127,000.

The Metra Board in 2011 hired Alex Clifford as CEO in an effort to clean up the agency. But the Metra Board in June 2013 approved a generous exit package for Clifford, with eight months remaining on his first contract. When pressed by angry state lawmakers, Clifford alleged he was forced out because he would not acquiesce to political patronage requests.

While Schaffer was accused with the rest of the board of lax oversight in the wake of the Pagano scandal, he found redemption of sorts in reacting to the Clifford scandal. While Schaffer finished out his time, both the Pagano and Clifford scandals resulted in a number of Metra Board resignations.

The County Board posted the impending vacancy Tuesday afternoon. Applicants have until 2 p.m. Aug. 28 to submit their résumés.

The Metra Board pays $15,000 a year, but new appointees no longer receive pension or insurance benefits as a result of reform laws that passed after the scandals.