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Former board members eligible for RTA panel

Published: Friday, April 5, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – Former County Board members would be eligible to serve as the county’s representative to the Regional Transportation Authority board, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office said.

Thursday, County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen released a letter sent to him by Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Lulves addressing whether the chairman legally could appoint county elected officials to the RTA board.

The RTA holds budget oversight of Metra, Pace and the Chicago Transit Authority.

In the letter dated Wednesday, Lulves said the law governing the RTA board would bar any county elected officials from serving simultaneously at the RTA and the county.

However, Lulves said the Kane County ethics ordinance does not prohibit former county elected officials from serving on the RTA board.

The ordinance declares that county elected officials cannot be appointed to a different position with the county within a year of leaving office.

The potential ethical concerns prompted County Board member Mike Donahue, R-Geneva, to withdraw his name from consideration for the RTA post.

“Initially, I did not read the ordinance to include boards and commissions such as the RTA,” Donahue wrote in a letter sent to Lauzen. “But upon further reflection I agree that the spirit and intent of the ordinance, which we just reaffirmed last year, is to prevent current and recently retired County Board members and county elected officials from receiving undue political consideration from their peers in the appointment process.”

Lulves, however, said he does not believe the RTA board appointment would be subject to that rule, as the RTA “is not a division or department of Kane County.”

RTA directors earn a salary and benefits that are paid by the RTA. Lulves did not reference this in his letter.

Lauzen has said he intends to appoint a new representative from Kane County to the RTA board soon to fill the expiring term of Jan Carlson, a former County Board member who has represented the county at the RTA since he was appointed by then-County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay in 2008.

Lauzen on Thursday said a three-person committee – made up of County Board members Drew Frasz, R-Elburn; Brian Pollock, D-Aurora; and T.R. Smith, R-Maple Park – have narrowed a list of two dozen applicants down to a “short list” of six names.

Those still under consideration include retired judge Manuel Barbosa; St. Charles Mayor Don DeWitte; former Kane County Division of Transportation Director Nabi Fakroddin; former County Board members Bonnie Kunkel and Jim Mitchell; and Pingree Grove Trustee Bernard Thomas.

Mitchell also served as a campaign chairman for Lauzen during his successful campaign for chairman.

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