Coulson is a name partner in the law firm of Gold and Coulson, a Chicago law firm that specializes in class actions and other litigation on behalf of plaintiffs. Indeed, the firm's website describes Mr. Coulson and his colleagues as "Warriors for Justice":
We're out to protect medical providers who have been taken advantage of by insurance companies, we're out to protect patients who have been taken advantage of by insurance companies.
We're out to protect artists and writers who have been taken advantage of by recording and publishing companies, and we're out to protect accident victims against corporate America.
It will be interesting to see how this Warrior for Justice will approach questions of distributive justice, such as the statutory formula for distributing much of the RTA's operating funding to the service boards.
Coulson does not bring a profession transit background to his new position. The RTA press release announcing his appointment states that Coulson "has had a long personal interest in public transportation" and takes transit in Chicago and while traveling. That describes a sizable percentage of people in the six-county area. Likewise, Coulson's impressive resume on his firm's website discloses no professional involvement in transportation issues.
However, it is tough to quibble about the qualifications of a Warrior for Justice. With good judgment, careful preparation, and a willingness to go beyond managerial platitudes to address core issues, a board member can make a big difference. Coulson's experience dueling with multi-billion dollar insurance companies likely is good preparation for his stint on the RTA Board.
Coulson also may bring a unique skill set to the RTA Board. He is a founding member of the Office of Strategic Services Society, a group devoted to celebrating the historical accomplishments of the OSS. The OSS is the predecessor of today's CIA and the historical and cultural links between the two groups run deep. Coulson looks to be way too young to have served in the OSS. However, perhaps through his work with the Society he has learned spying, counter-intelligence and other such skills from Society members affiliated with the CIA and other intelligence agencies. These skills may be what is necessary if the RTA is push its Moving Beyond Congestion agenda through the General Assembly and past the Governor.
So, if you see a man in a trench coat and sunglasses in late May in Springfield--watch out!