CTA appointee doesn't live near CTA

CTA appointee doesn't live near CTA

  • By Tracy Swartz

    Here we go again.

    The CTA board is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a $25,000 annual salary for retired Chicago Police Sgt. Robert Lewis, who was appointed last month to the transit board. Lewis, of Olympia Fields, would replace Frank Zuccarelli, who resigned in August after he came under fire for being paid as both Thornton Township supervisor and CTA board member.

    Both Zuccarelli and Lewis were appointed by Gov. Quinn—and both lack transit experience and live in the south suburbs, nowhere near the CTA.

    Lewis,a former manager of Investigative Services at Motorola, was also a member of the Village of Olympia Fields planning and zoning commission until he resigned a few weeks ago. He was also on the finance commission. Both are volunteer, unpaid posts, Quinn’s office said.

    Lewis, 68, lives in Olympia Fields near a Pace bus stop and a Metra train, according to public records. The farthest south the CTA extends is the 95th Street Red Line station. Mayor Emanuel campaigned on lengthening the Red Line south to 130th Street, but there is no set plan to expand.

    “Governor Quinn has long committed to appointing a strong south suburban advocate who will give a voice to this region which has historically been overlooked and underserved by public transit,” Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman said in an email when asked about Lewis’ transit experience. Lewis did not respond to a request for comment.

    Lewis was appointed Feb. 14, just two weeks before former U.S. Attorney

    Patrick Fitzgerald recommended that an independent, nonpolitical panel vet transit board nominees before final approval and that these board members should not accept pay. 

    Fitzgerald is a member of the Northeastern Illinois Transit Task Force, created by Gov. Quinn last summer after Metra CEO Alex Clifford was forced out for resisting political pressure in hiring and salary decisions.

    The CTA board is composed of seven members: three appointed by the governor and four appointed by the mayor. Pay is $25,000 a year.

    If Lewis is approved by the Illinois Senate, his term would expire Sept. 1, 2018. 

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