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Gov. Quinn wants expert panel to give lawmakers Metra/RTA overhaul plan by Oct. 22

Governor Pat Quinn today said he is preparing to appoint an independent panel of experts to offer ways to restructure the RTA and scandal-ridden Metra.

“I am anxious to work on a fundamental overhaul of Metra and the RTA,” Quinn said at a news conference. The governor had signed three bills today strengthening traffic safety.

Quinn hasn’t appointed the panel members yet but mentioned the names Ann Schneider and George Ranney as possibilities.

Quinn said he would take recommendations from an inspector general’s report — which is still under way — as well as from the new panel.

The governor, who has in the past called for a new Metra board, said he will give legislators an overhaul proposal by Oct. 22.

Quinn has expressed frustration over not having the power to remove Metra board members and said he would consider a proposal that includes giving the governor appointment power.

Four Metra board members have resigned in the wake of a scandal tied to the $718,000 contract buyout of the rail agency’s CEO Alex Clifford. Clifford penned a memo saying he was forced out after he refused to heed to patronage requests by politicians — including the powerful state House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).