Monday, January 8, 2007

Aftermath of Appointment of New Pace Chairman

The recent appointment of Richard Kwasneski as Pace's Chairman continues to attract press attention.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the appointing authorities in Lake, Kane and DuPage Counties were not consulted before Kwasneski was appointed. According to the article the suburban Cook County executives and Will County teamed up to push through Kwasneski's appointment.

Lake County Board Chairman Suzi Schmidt likened the appointment process to "Cook County politics," a comment that is sure to go over well with the Cook County representatives on Pace's board. However, she and Kwasneski pledged to work together to obtain the $22.9 million in extra money Pace needs to stay afloat.

Orland Hills Mayor Kyle Hastings was appointed to fill Kwasneski's spot on the Pace board. The Daily Southtown ran a scathing editorial entitled "Hastings' Record Doesn't Bode Well for Pace Board." The editorial is a pretty deadly attack on Hastings' record of public service and his dealings with Republican Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Doody Gorman. The editorial closes with this shot: "So, next time you're standing on a corner waiting for a Pace bus that may never come, remember that Kyle Hastings is now a member of the Pace board. And then stick your thumb out and hitchhike."

Certainly in the early stages of the upcoming Moving Beyond Congestion spring offensive in Springfield the Pace board and even the contentious factions that make up the MBC will hold together. The kind of raw feelings resulting from Kwasneski's appointment, however, may result in weak spots in the coalition that will grow into fissures under the pressures of the legislative process.

Will, for example, the collar counties bolt from the coalition if Metra's needs are taken care of, leaving Pace and the CTA to their own devices? Could there be a Chicago, suburban Cook County and Will County bloc? Only time will tell.

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