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Chicago Ass'n of Commerce & Ind. v. Rta

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 30, 1981.

THE CHICAGO ASSOCIATION OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY ET AL., APPELLEES AND CROSS-APPELLANTS,

v.

THE REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY ET AL., APPELLANTS AND CROSS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Arthur L. Dunne, Judge, presiding. MR. JUSTICE CLARK DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendants, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and its chairman and directors, filed a motion for direct appeal to this court from an order of the circuit court of Cook County issuing a writ of mandamus "to adopt and promptly implement a policy to provide adequate public transportation in the six county area" and "to consider and decide upon the proper and specific course or courses of action to be taken" under the Regional Transportation Authority Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111 2/3, par. 701.01 et seq.). Plaintiffs, the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry and Samuel R. Mitchell, filed a motion for direct appeal to this court from the same order because it failed to specifically require defendants to increase fares or reduce services or a combination thereof to preserve an adequate level of regional transportation service. We allowed the parties' motions for direct appeal (73 Ill.2d R. 302(b)). After expedited proceedings, we reversed the circuit court's order by an order entered June 11, 1981, and denied plaintiffs' cross-appeal.

Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on June 1, 1981, seeking, inter alia, a writ of mandamus requiring defendants to comply with certain statutory duties under the RTA Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111 2/3, par. 701.01 et seq.) to assure the continued operation of an adequate transportation system and to fund the services by fare increases and service reductions, allegedly "the only means legally available." The statutory duties allegedly arise out of section 1.02(b), which states the purpose of the Act is "to provide for * * * public transportation" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111 2/3, par. 701.02(b)); section 2.20(a), which states the RTA has "all powers necessary to meet its responsibilities and to carry out its purposes" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111 2/3, par. 702.20(a)); section 2.04, which states the RTA shall provide for the level and nature of fares and the nature and standards of public transportation (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111 2/3, par. 702.04); and section 4.01, which states the board shall control the finances of the RTA and provide for payment of debts and expenses (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111 2/3, par. 704.01). Plaintiff alleged that defendants, in addition, have a common law duty to provide adequate transportation. Plaintiff further alleged that defendants breached their duties by failing to maintain a balanced budget, by deferring the implementation of fare increases previously enacted, and by refusing to otherwise increase fares and reduce services or such combination thereof as may be necessary to preserve an adequate level of service.

On June 4, 1981, defendants filed an answer to the amended complaint and both parties filed a stipulation of facts. The parties stipulated that the RTA currently operates at a deficit. The RTA is in arrears in making subsidy payments for the operation of the local transportation services, including the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), several commuter railroads, and many suburban bus systems. Because of the RTA's failure to pay its subsidies, some transportation services have ceased or will cease to operate, and others have reduced services and increased fares. The RTA also owes millions of dollars to noncarrier creditors and has insufficient funds to pay its bills.

The parties also stipulated that in December 1980 the RTA published a five-year program (1981-85) (see Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111 2/3, par. 702.01) which projected a $150 million deficit for fiscal 1981 unless the board made "fairly drastic service cuts, along with increases in fares throughout the region, as the only way to maintain the financial integrity of the system." On December 22, 1980, after public hearings, the board of directors enacted Ordinance No. 80-317, which provided for specific fare increases effective January 1, April 1, and August 1, 1981. The first increase, modified by a deferred increase on the CTA monthly pass, became effective on January 1. The record discloses that the board at that time took some action requiring service reductions, but it is unclear as to the level of reductions.

The parties further stipulated that on January 30, 1981, Price Waterhouse & Company, special assistant auditors for the Auditor General of the State of Illinois, released a financial statement providing that the RTA's ability to meet its debt obligations and continue its present level of financial assistance to carriers was uncertain. The RTA, it continued, owed the CTA $51 million as of January 23, 1981. We must note the financial statement in the record provided that although fare increases and service reductions enacted December 22, 1980, would aid in alleviating the financial problems, "it is anticipated that the RTA will continue to experience cash shortages during the fiscal year ending September 30, 1981."

In addition, the parties stipulated that on March 16, 1981, the board enacted Ordinance No. 81-49, which deferred the implementation of the April 1 fare increase. On May 26, 1981, the board convened to consider proposed ordinances for fare increases and service reductions. At that meeting Chairman Lewis W. Hill announced that the RTA had insufficient funds to meet its obligations for the next three weeks. The board did not enact an ordinance to increase fares or reduce services at that meeting.

The parties also stipulated that the board on numerous occasions has met with public officials and testified at legislative committee hearings to express the need for the General Assembly to provide additional revenues for the RTA.

On June 5, 1981, defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint, and the circuit court denied the motion. The circuit court also entered the following order in favor of plaintiffs:

"A. The Defendants, and each of them, shall forthwith exercise their discretion and powers under the RTA Act to adopt and promptly implement a policy to provide adequate public transportation in the six county area subject to their jurisdiction.

B. Further, the Defendant RTA Directors shall convene forthwith at their regular place of meeting, there to consider and decide upon the proper and specific course or courses of action to be taken by them, within the powers and authority conferred upon them by the RTA Act, to comply with their duty as set out in paragraph A hereof. In so considering and deciding, the said Directors shall give consideration to all their powers under the Act, including, but not limited to, raising fares, curtailing service, reducing expenses, and securing revenue from other legally proper sources. In addition, the RTA Directors shall, in so considering and deciding, give special consideration to the findings and conclusions set out in this Order and to the immediate need for action by them to seek to avert a total or substantial shutdown of public transportation services in the six county region subject to their jurisdiction.

C. Further, the RTA Directors are commanded to make return to this Court on the 12th day of June, 1981, at 11:00 a.m., specifying the manner in which they have complied with this Order."

That court, moreover, made a special finding there was no just reason for delaying enforcement or appeal of the order (73 Ill.2d R. 304(a)).

We have concluded that mandamus is not appropriate here. A writ of mandamus is issued in the sound discretion of the court. (People ex rel. Carey v. Scotillo (1981), 84 Ill.2d 170, 175; Baltimore & Ohio R.R. Co. v. Mosele (1977), 67 Ill.2d 321, 334.) This court is limited to deciding matters of law only. (People ex rel. Carey v. Bentivenga (1981), 83 Ill.2d 537, 544; People ex rel. Carey v. Cousins (1979), 77 Ill.2d 531, 544, cert. denied (1980), 445 U.S. 953, 63 L.Ed.2d 788, 100 S.Ct. 1603.) Plaintiff must set forth every material fact needed to show he is entitled to the writ (People v. Teschner (1980), 81 Ill.2d 187, 194), and the burden rests on him to show he has a clear, legal right to it (Horn v. Rincker (1981), 84 Ill.2d 139, 148). Mandamus usually issues to compel the performance of a non-discretionary, ministerial duty or act. People ex rel. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. Clark (1957), 12 Ill.2d 515, 519; see also People ex rel. Jones v. Webb (1912), 256 Ill. 364, 373.

Where the performance of an official duty or act involves the exercise of judgment or discretion, the officer's action is not subject to review or control by mandamus. (South Chicago Community Hospital v. Industrial Com. (1969), 44 Ill.2d 119, 122; People ex rel. Town Court of Cicero v. Harrington (1961), 21 Ill.2d 224, 225; People ex rel. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. Clark (1957), 12 Ill.2d 515, 520; People ex rel. Brignall v. Lewe (1943), 383 Ill. 549, 556; cf. People ex rel. Gill v. 110 S. Dearborn St. Corp. (1936), 363 Ill. 286, 289.) The writ will not lie when its effect is "to substitute the court's judgment or discretion for that of the body which is commanded to act." (Ickes v. Board of Supervisors (1953), 415 Ill. 557, 563, quoting People ex rel. Walsh v. Board of Commissioners (1947), 397 Ill. 293, 305.) The ...


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