Former Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon is the county’s newest appointment to the Metra board of directors. The decision comes despite criticism from several county board members about the process, McMahon’s qualifications and his tenure as state’s attorney. The county board voted 19-4 Tuesday — there is one vacant seat on the 24-member board — to make the appointment.
McMahon was one of 18 applicants for the position, which comes with a $15,000 stipend.
A subcommittee overseeing and vetting the applications narrowed the pool to four finalists for interviews. Three of the four would have been worthy appointments, said county board member Drew Frasz. Frasz sat on the subcommittee along with county board members Vern Tepe and Mo Iqbal, and Carl Scheidel, the county’s executive director of transportation.
The subcommittee was put in place after the unsuccessful appointment of former county board member Matt Hanson to be the county’s Metra representative in February. Hanson resigned less than a month later after Metra ruled him ineligible to be on the board because of his employment with the BNSF railway. The subcommittee is a return to the way such appointments have been made under the last two county board chairs, though that is not a written or required policy.
“Whenever you’re doing something for the second time, we thought we would do an extra thorough method of doing it,” Frasz said.
The method didn’t ease the concerns of county board members who voted against McMahon’s appointment.
Board member Deb Allan said she would have preferred a representative with more relevant experience for the role other than being an attorney.
Board member Ron Ford said he was disappointed the county couldn’t find a person of color to join the 10-member Metra board, which has only one racial minority.
County Board Chair Corinne Pierog said while she supports increased diversity, the subcommittee could only deal with the applications received.
Board member Tom Koppie said he believed McMahon’s application came in after the deadline, though he offered no evidence to support that belief. He asked to table the appointment to allow for an investigation. Frasz said McMahon’s application was one of the first received by the subcommittee, and no board member supported Koppie’s effort to delay the appointment.
Board member Barb Wojnicki touched on one of the more difficult aspects of McMahon’s tenure as state’s attorney in saying she was disappointed the county and McMahon didn’t put up more of a fight to stop an addiction treatment facility from opening just outside Campton Hills. Recovery Centers of America opened its facility last September.
The county had paid out nearly $5.6 million in an earlier settlement deal after the insurer for the county at the time urged the county to settle believing a $68 million discrimination lawsuit brought against the county by a different ownership group was unwinnable.
McMahon has returned to private legal practice since his tenure as state’s attorney ended last November.
Source: The Daily Chronicle