Thursday, January 18, 2007

Pace's Governance

Section 3A.02 of the RTA Act, (70 ILCS 3615/3A.02) gives Pace a 12-member board. Six directors are appointed by the suburban members of the Cook County Board. These directors must come from various statutorily-defined regions to ensure geographic diversity. The Chairman of each collar county (Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage, Will) appoints one director. The collar county directors must be chief executive officers of a municipality within their county.

The Pace Chairman is selected by "a majority of the Chairmen of the DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will County Boards and the suburban members of the Cook County Board."

The recent controversy over the appointment of Richard Kwasneski to be Pace's Chairman begs the question: Does this language require a majority of the Chairmen of the collar county boards and a majority of the suburban members of the Cook County Board to appoint a Pace Chairman? Or is is enough that a majority of all eleven Cook County board members and collar county board chairmen sufficient?

News reports indicate that the Will County Board Chaiman plus the suburban Cook County board members engineered Kwasneski's appointment. Lake, Kane and DuPage Counties were not consulted.

If the intent of the General Assembly was to require regional consensus on a Pace Chairman by requiring majorities of both the Cook County board members and the collar county Chairman--a reading that one can argue with a straight face is supported by the statutory language--then there may be a question whether Kwasneski's appointment was valid had the Lake, Kane and DuPage Chairman voted no to his appointment. (The actual vote for Kwasneski's appointment was not reported.)

Perhaps this issue could widen into a fissure dividing Will County and the suburban Cook County members on Pace's board from the rest of the collar county board members when the political heat rises as the Moving Beyond Congestion initiative winds its way through the General Assembly. Could there even be a legal cloud over Kwasneski's appointment and the legal validity of his actions as Pace's Chairman if in fact he did not receive a majority of votes from the collar county board chairmen? The possible ambiguity in the statutory language covering the appointment process for Pace's Chairman should be cleared up if and when the General Assembly amends the RTA Act.

A final note on Pace's board. The City of Chicago has no representation on Pace's board even though Chicago is the destination of many of Pace's customers and reverse commuters from Chicago comprise a significant part of Pace's ridership. On the other hand, none of the RTA sales tax revenue raised in Chicago is allocated by statute to Pace.

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