Rep. Harris Urges Appointments to Metra Board

News From

State Representative David Harris

For Immediate Release                                                                      Contact: Rep. David Harris    

21 August 2013                                                                        (224) 635-2010 or (224) 764-2440

HARRIS URGES APPOINTMENTS TO METRA BOARD

            State Representative David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) today wrote to the elected officials who are the designated appointing authorities for members of the Metra Board of Directors.  Harris sent his letter to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the eight suburban Cook County Commissioners, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin and Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen; these are the individuals who have responsibility for filling current vacancies on the Metra Board.

            In his letter, Harris pointed out that the Board currently has only 6 of its authorized 11 members, meaning that it barely has enough members for a quorum.  “I urge you to make an appointment to the Metra Board as soon as you possibly can,” wrote Harris. “Do not delay – delay only weakens the Board further.”

            Harris also encouraged the appointing authorities to think outside the box in making their appointments, looking for individuals who do not have political connections. “How about a small business person with a basic understanding of budgets, revenues and expenses?” Harris suggested.

            Harris noted that any reform proposals for Metra or the RTA Act have to be enacted by the legislature and signed by the Governor, and that will not occur quickly.  Until changes are enacted, the structure in place is the one we all have to work with.  “We have an opportunity to restore faith and confidence in the Metra Board, but that can only happen if you make the appointment to restore full membership to the Metra Board,” Harris said in closing to the appointing authorities.

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Rep. Harris Renews Call for O'Halloran to Resign



For Immediate Release  Contact: Rep. David Harris
30 July 2013  (224) 635-2010 or (224) 764-2440

HARRIS RENEWS CALL FOR O’HALLORAN TO RESIGN

State Representative David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) today renewed his call for METRA Board Chairman Brad O’Halloran to resign his position as Chairman and his position on the METRA Board of Directors. Last week Harris filed House Resolution 521 calling for O’Halloran to step down. Harris’s renewed call comes in the wake of The Chicago Tribune’s revelation that O’Halloran received salary from his position as an Orland Park trustee at the same time as he was receiving his salary as the METRA Board Chair.
“Mr. O’Halloran’s actions have further demonstrated that he has no regard for the proper accountability and handling of public funds,” said Harris. “The inappropriate golden parachute agreement that he pushed to remove Alex Clifford from the METRA Executive Director spot, and the subsequent attempt to shroud the reasons for that agreement in secrecy, show his lack of understanding that public funds must be handled in an open and transparent manner.
“Further, the revelation that he accepted his salary from Orland Park at the same time he was taking his salary as METRA Board Chairman demonstrates his total disregard for acting in the public interest. Even more importantly, the fact that he accepted both salaries is in clear violation of State law as spelled out in the Regional Transportation Authority Act.”
The law prohibiting METRA Board members from taking another public salary in addition to their METRA salary is known to all members of the Board. METRA Board Member Arlene Mulder, who was the Mayor of Arlington Heights while serving as a METRA Board MEMBER, never took her salary as Mayor from Arlington Heights.
“I commend METRA Director Mulder for her straightforward and honest compliance with State law during her service on the METRA Board. And I condemn Chairman O’Halloran for failing to adhere to the same high ethical standard,” added Harris. Mr. O’Halloran has shown his contempt for the fare payers, for the taxpayers and for the laws of our State. He should resign immediately.”
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News Release -- General Assembly

News Release – General Assembly

 

For Immediate Release                                                                      Contact Rep. David Harris

25 June 2013                                                                                 224-764-2440

                                                                                                            repharris@yahoo.com

 

Representatives Franks and Harris Demand Taxpayers Not Be Forced to Pay for METRA CEO’s Golden Parachute

 

In response to the large severance package granted to outgoing METRA CEO Alex Clifford, State Representative Jack Franks (D-Marengo) and State Representative David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) are calling on METRA to ensure that Illinois taxpayers and fare-paying commuters are not forced to cover the cost of Clifford’s golden parachute. 

The buyout pays Clifford $442,237 to cover the remainder of his contract, and includes a provision for an additional $300,000 if Clifford fails to find another job within 13 months.  The compensation owed to Clifford for the eight months remaining on his contract,conversely, would only have been about $168,000.

“The wastefulness inherent in this decision is truly shocking,” Franks said.  “The board could very easily have bought Clifford out of his contract or placed him on leave until it expired. Instead, they chose to give him more than his predecessor allegedly looted from the agency in the first place and send the bill to the taxpayers.”

 “It would have been a lot less expensive for Mr. Clifford to have been allowed to ride out the remainder of his contract,”said Harris, “even if day-to-day responsibility for the control of METRA’s operations were given to another executive.”

             Rep. Franks and Rep. Harris see the recent deal as a waste of taxpayer and fare payer money.  METRA receives annual subsidies from the State, and it recently imposed a fare increase of roughly 16% across all fare zones.  The public funds and fares paid by riders should be used where they can be most effectively, not used to provide a golden parachute for a fired Executive Director.

Franks, the chairman of the House State Government Administration Committee, and Harris, the minority spokesman on the House Revenue and Finance Committee, are urging METRA to assume the cost of Clifford’s severance package internally, and not force Illinois taxpayers to pay any expenses beyond Clifford’s contracted salary of $252,500.

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HARRIS RETURNS FUNDS TO STATE TREASURY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2012                                               

HARRIS RETURNS FUNDS TO STATE TREASURY

State Representative David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) announced today that he is returning over 9% of his District Office Allowance for Fiscal Year 2012 to the State Treasury. The books were just closed on Fiscal Year 2012, which ended on June 30th of this year.

“State Representatives are allocated $69,409 to maintain an office in their local districts,” said Harris. “I am pleased to be able to report that through frugal budgeting and tight controls on expenses, I spent only $63,150 of that allocation. I was able to save the taxpayers of Illinois over 9% in the General Revenue Funds appropriated for my District Office.”

While it may not be a big sum of money, every penny counts in dealing with the budget situation in Illinois.

Harris added, “I operated my District Office on a full-time basis, and I provided all the services to constituents that are expected of a state legislator. During the past year and a half my office has fielded nearly 20,000 e-mails and handled dozens of direct constituent service matters. My office staff has done a great job, and we did it all while directly saving taxpayer dollars by returning 9% of the appropriation.”

Harris Announces Chamber Tax Forum

For Immediate Release                                                                                             Contact: Rep. David Harris
17 November 2011                                                                                                 (224) 635-2010

Harris Announces Chamber Tax Forum

State Representative David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) announced today that he will be hosting a Small Business Tax Forum in conjunction with the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce and local Chambers of Commerce. Area owners of small and medium size businesses and their tax accountants are invited to discuss pending state tax law changes.

“The legislature is currently considering plans to offer tax incentives to large corporations like Sears Holding and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in order to keep their headquarters in Illinois,” said Harris. “The intent of this local business tax forum is to ensure that small and medium size businesses are involved in the process of reforming the corporate income tax system in the State of Illinois.”

The forum will take place on Monday November 21st at the Arlington Heights Village Hall beginning at 9 a.m. Doug Whitley, the President the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, will chair the forum. The forum will include participants from the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, the Greater O’Hare Association, and the Schaumburg Business Association.

As the ranking Republican Spokesman on the House Revenue and Finance Committee, Representative Harris is seeking the advice from area businesses on how best to reform the corporate tax structure in the state. “This forum is important to ensure that small and medium sized businesses are part of the conversation on reforming the corporate tax structure in the state of Illinois,” added Harris. “The input from small and medium size businesses will be important to any changes that the legislature might make. The objective of change is to help business create jobs to improve the economy in the state of Illinois.”
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Rep. Harris Tackles Chicago and Cook County Pension Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 25, 2011

Springfield, IL- Legislators in the Personnel and Pensions Committee unanimously approved House Bill 3813; a measure that seeks to reform the Chicago Pension Funds to make them more accountable to the taxpayers and further prevent abuses in the future.

State Representative David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) is the Chief Co-Sponsor of this bill, which would repeal a portion of state law passed in 1991 that allowed Chicago city employees to retire with a city pension that was based on a much higher union salary. House Bill 3813 would affect the Chicago Municipal Employees’ Pension Fund, Chicago Laborers’ Pension Fund and the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund. The change would only allow future union officials to accept a city pension based on their city salary when they left service.

“I am outraged by the stories I have recently read that highlight the fraud and abuse surrounding huge pension increases, dipping into multiple pension funds and employees pocketing far more than they have earned,” said Rep. Harris. “I am pleased to join Leader Cross on this effort to work toward a pension system that is sustainable and accountable to Illinois taxpayers.”

Additionally, this measure would also ensure that union officials cannot collect two pensions, one through the City of Chicago and one through a labor organization, by earning pension credit in both pension funds for the same period of service. This would affect the Chicago Municipal Employees’ Pension Fund and Chicago Laborers’ Pension Fund.
According to media reports in the Chicago Tribune and WGN TV, in some cases, pension fund boards did not report fraudulent activity. HB 3813 would also amend the Illinois Pension Code to state that if any board member or employee of any retirement system or pension fund statewide has reasonable suspicion to believe that fraud is being committed or has been committed, then that individual shall either notify the board or the State’s Attorney of the county having jurisdiction of the alleged fraudulent activity.

HB 3813 now moves to the Illinois House of Representatives for consideration

HARRIS SPONSORS LEGISLATION ENDING SCHOLARSHIPS

News From
State Representative David Harris

For Immediate Release Contact: Rep. David Harris
18 October 2011 (224) 635-2010

HARRIS SPONSORS LEGISLATION ENDING SCHOLARSHIPS

State Representative David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) announced today that he has joined State Representative Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates) in sponsoring legislation that would end the General Assembly legislative scholarship program.

“I joined Representative Crespo as the chief co-sponsor of HB 3810, which would bring the General Assembly legislative scholarship program to an end as of June 1, 2012. My sponsorship of the bill he introduced adds bi-partisan effort to end the program,” said Harris.

Recently the Governor vetoed HB 1353, a bill dealing with the General Assembly scholarships which was passed in this year’s Spring session of the legislature. His veto put language into the bill that would end the program. However, because of the new legislative language the Governor added through his veto, he may have exceeded his constitutional veto authority and due to that it appears that the Governor’s veto of HB 1353 will not be considered.

“The best way to end the scholarship program is for the General Assembly to pass legislation doing so; it should not come through a gubernatorial veto. The House and the Senate should take positive action and send a clear message ending the program, and that is what HB 3810 does. I am pleased to join Representative Crespo on this,” added Harris.

The scholarships are distributed at the discretion of each legislator; they are tuition waivers forced on the state’s public universities. It is estimated that the waivers are an additional $13 million burden on the universities, which is in addition to the hundreds of millions they are already owed by the State of Illinois in overdue payments. 
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Paid for by Committee to Elect David Harris. A copy of our report is filed with and available for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, IL.