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April 29, 2003

Blagojevich outlines Illinois Toll Highway Authority reforms

Announces creation of inspector general

Tabs John Mitola of Chicago as board chair

CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced sweeping reforms of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority that include the creation of an independent inspector general’s office to investigate allegations of waste, fraud and mismanagement and the naming of a new chairman and four other board of director members who have agreed to forego any compensation or benefits for their service.

“The toll highway authority has long been associated with wasteful spending, cost overruns, faulty planning and poor financial management,” the governor said. “Today, the effort to restore the public trust in one of the state’s most troubled agencies is shifting into high gear. Reform of the system is long overdue, but with these new authority members, an inspector general and a new management team in place we intend to quickly make up for lost time.”

Blagojevich named John Mitola, 38, Chicago, chief executive officer of Electric City Corporation as the board’s new chair, replacing Art Philip, who’s term expires Wednesday, May 1.

Others named to four-year terms were David R. Andalcio, 42, Chicago, chief executive officer and president of Interface Computer Communications Inc.; Frank M. Clark, 57, Hazel Crest, president of ComEd, executive vice-president of Exelon Energy Delivery and senior vice president of Exelon Corporation; Donald J. Gasparini, 60, Rockford, retired Winnebago County sheriff; and Naperville Mayor A. George Pradel, 65, who will begin serving his third term as mayor next month.

In the past, the board chair was paid $31,901, plus benefits, and board members received $27,788, plus benefits.

“We have been able to find five highly-qualified, dedicated individuals who are committed to serving in this important position without any compensation,” Blagojevich said. “I appreciate their willingness to add this responsibility to their many other duties, as do the millions of motorists who rely on the tollway system.”

Pradel is the only one of the five with previous experience on the tollway board having been appointed in October 2001 to fill any unexpired term that expires Wednesday. His appointment today is to a full four-year term.

In calling for the creation of an independent inspector general, the governor fulfilled a campaign promise to improve accountability and investigate any hint of improprieties in the day-to-day operations of the toll highway authority, its employees and its contractors. Blagojevich said a search is underway for the most qualified person possible to fill the position.

“I want the toll authority to be known for an efficient tollway system rather than an extravagant headquarters, a haven that serves the needs of political insiders and not those who use the tollways,” the governor said. “The initiatives I have outlined and begun to put in place will make the toll authority more open and accountable and will improve services to our customers.”

Other reforms and inefficiencies that are underway include:

  • Pursuing the sale of the toll highway authority’s headquarters in Downers Grove.

  • A $94 million reconstruction of the tollway’s seven oases at no cost to users that will provide improved food and gas services.

  • Launching a new Traffic and Incident Management System (TIMS) to share travel information and reduce delays caused by incidents on the roadways.

  • A top-to-bottom review of the people who work for the toll highway authority – what they do and how they do their jobs to learn how it can be operated more efficiently.

  • A reduction in the number of staff who are assigned tollway vehicles for use to and from work and evaluating the need for all vehicles in the fleet.

  • A review of all major contracts currently in place and how contract management can be improved.

  • Seeking innovative customer service companies to provide better service.

  • Expanding I-PASS access and improve marketing of it to attract new customers.

  • Posting all bids and contracts on the authority’s Web site.

  • A crackdown of scofflaws who fail to pay tolls.

  • Improvements in how the authority can improve its cash handling practice.

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