ST. CHARLES – The retired former director of the Kane County Division of Transportation, Nabi Fakroddin, resigned his position on the Regional Transportation Authority board Tuesday, following concerns that he could not legally serve there and on the Illinois Human Rights Commission.
Board Chairman Chris Lauzen appointed Fakroddin, 74, of St. Charles, in April as Kane County’s representative. Members of the 16-member board represent their respective regions in four-year terms.
The issue was raised by RTA Board Chairman John Gates Jr., who advised in a letter Aug. 6 to Gov. Quinn that “It is my belief that according to the law, it may not be permissible for him to continue to serve on the RTA board, and Mr. Fakroddin agreed … He will be submitting his resignation to Kane County Chairman Lauzen.”
Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman said in an email response that Gates “is mistaken on the law, and our office will follow up with him on this matter.”
RTA board members are paid $25,000 a year, spokeswoman Susan Massel said. Human Rights Commissioners are paid $46,960, according to the appointments page of the State of Illinois website.
Lauzen did not return a message seeking comment.
The RTA is the financial and oversight body for the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace.
Fakroddin said he was considering an unpaid position Gates had offered him on the RTA Citizens Advisory Board, which advises the board of problems and suggestions for solutions.
Fakroddin said he started his career working for the Illinois Department of Transportation when he was 18, working there for 20 years and receiving six promotions.
After that, he worked as the director of highways for Warren County for five years, then came to Kane County as transportation director from 1984 until his retirement in 1997.
Fakroddin said he was doing private consulting until he was asked to serve on the RTA board as Kane’s representative.
He said he chose to remain on the Human Rights Commission, which involves listening to cases and reviewing briefs.
“Discrimination is not just the color of skin, and religion, but also in housing, gender and sexual orientation,” Fakroddin said. “They all come to us.”
In his resignation letter, released by Lauzen’s office, Fakroddin noted a personal connection to protecting human rights.
“While growing up in the 1950s, I have personally witnessed human and civil rights violations,” Fakroddin wrote in part. “And as a commissioner for the Human Rights Commission, I have been part of the process of redressing proven civil rights violations committed against Illinois citizens.”
Fakroddin said while he is in good health, he wanted to continue serving the public as long as he can.
“The Lord has been good to me,” Fakroddin said.
Another RTA board member, the Rev. Tyrone Crider, left July 31 after his failure to repay a $91,000 state grant became public. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued Crider in 2011, records show.
In Gates’ letter to Quinn, he states his concern regarding the appointment of Frank Zuccarelli to the CTA Board because Zuccarelli also is the Thornton Township supervisor, a dual role that “violates the intent of section 19 of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Act.”
But Quinn spokesman Klinzman said the two situations are completely different.
“The statute prohibits anyone who is paid by a municipality, county, or state government from serving. The Illinois municipal code explicitly states that a township official does not fall under these categories,” Klinzman said.
“Zuccarelli is a military veteran and represents a region that has historically been underserved by public transportation,” Klinzman said in an email. “He [Zuccarelli] is filling a position that is specifically designated to represent the suburbs of Cook County, and he is a strong advocate for that region.”
Fakroddin said because of the current scrutiny of Metra, everyone who serves on dual boards also is being scrutinized.
“Before, nobody paid any attention,” Fakroddin said. “Now they’re looking into every board member – who is working where.”