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Franks introduces bill to close transit-board loophole

State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, issued the following news release Wednesday:

Legislation prohibits township officials from double-dipping on transit boards

WOODSTOCK, Ill. – In the wake of a failed attempt by Gov. Pat Quinn to appoint a career politician and political ally to the CTA Board of Directors, state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, introduced legislation today closing a loophole that allowed certain politicians to pad taxpayer-funded salaries through appointment to state transit boards.

“After decades of corruption, enough politicians in prison to fill their own cell block, and countless millions of taxpayers’ hard-earned money wasted on the same old political games, Illinois can no longer tolerate politicians following the letter of the law, while exploiting loopholes and ignoring the spirit of the law,” Franks said. “The people I represent believe public service is about doing what’s right and making life better for the people of Illinois, not enriching friends and cronies.”

House Bill 3659 makes all employees and elected or appointed officials of township or other local governments ineligible for appointment to the boards of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and Metra. While current law does not prevent township officials and employees from serving on these boards, employees and officials of federal, state, county and municipal governments are ineligible for appointment.

Franks introduced the measure in response to the governor’s attempt to appoint Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli to the CTA Board of Directors, a move which would have added a $25,000 annual taxpayer-funded paycheck to Zuccarelli’s over-$180,000 township salary. Zuccarelli declined the nomination this week, after Franks and others demanded the governor reconsider the appointment which violated the spirit of the current legal prohibition on transit board members collecting other taxpayer-funded salaries.

“Ultimately, no one would design a transit system like the one we have today,” Franks continued.

“Taxpayers deserve an integrated transit system that puts their interests first, speaks with a coherent voice and exercises real oversight authority.  By closing this loophole and continuing to crack down on cronyism at all levels of government, I am fighting to make this message heard in Springfield.”

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