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Stroger v. Regional Transportation Authority

August 24, 2001

JOHN H. STROGER, JR., PRESIDENT OF THE COOK COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, AND BERNARD SCAVELLA, A REGISTERED VOTER RESIDING IN THE 4TH DISTRICT OF COOK COUNTY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANTS
v.
THE REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, METRA, THE COMMUTER RAIL DIVISION OF THE REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, AND PACE, THE SUBURBAN BUS DIVISION OF THE REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Campbell

UNPUBLISHED

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE MOSHE JACOBIUS, JUDGE PRESIDING

Plaintiffs, John H. Stroger, President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, and Bernard Scavella, a registered voter residing in Calumet City, Cook County, Illinois, brought this action for declarative and injunctive relief against the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), the Commuter Rail division of the RTA (Metra), and the Suburban Bus Division of the RTA (PACE) (collectively, defendants), alleging that certain provisions of the statute empowering defendants, the Regional Transportation Authority Act (the RTA Act), violate certain principles of the Illinois Constitution. The trial court denied plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction and granted defendants' motion to dismiss.

On appeal, plaintiffs contend that the appointment provisions of the RTA Act: (1) violate the "one person, one vote" guarantee embodies in Article I, § 2 and Article III, § 3 of the Illinois Constitution; (2) violate the separation of powers required by Article II, § 1 of the Illinois Constitution by stripping the constitutionally created chief executive of Cook County of inherent executive powers of appointment; and (3) violate Article VII, § 6(f) of the Illinois Constitution by changing the form of Cook County government without referendum. For the following reasons, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand this matter for further proceedings.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are relevant to this appeal. Plaintiff, John H. Stroger (Stroger), is President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Pursuant to Article VII, sec. 4(b) of the Illinois Constitution:

"The President of the Cook County Board shall be elected from the County at large and shall be the chief executive officer of the County. If authorized by county ordinance, a person seeking election as President of the Cook County Board may also seek election as a member of the Board." Ill. Const. 1970, Art. VII, sec 4(b).

Plaintiff Bernard Scavella (Scavella) is a registered voter who resides in the 4th District of Cook County, outside of the City of Chicago. On February 29, 2000, plaintiffs filed a three-count complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against defendants challenging the appointment provisions of the RTA Act as unconstitutional.

By way of background, the RTA Act was enacted in 1973, and became effective in 1974 after approval by the voters in a six-county referendum. The referendum was upheld as constitutionally valid in Hoogasian v. RTA, 58 Ill. 2d 117, 317 N.E.2d 534, 536 (1974). The RTA Act is now codified at 70 ILCS 3615/1.01 et seq.

The stated purpose of the RTA Act is as follows:

"* * * to provide for, aid and assist public transportation in the northeastern area of the State without impairing the overall quality of existing public transportation by providing for the creation of a single authority responsive to the people and elected officials of the area and with the power and competence to provide financial review of the providers of public transportation in the metropolitan region and facilitate public transportation provided by Service Boards which is attractive and economical to users, comprehensive, coordinated among its various elements, economical, safe, efficient and coordinated with area and State plans." 70 ILCS 3615/1.02(c) (West 1998).

Originally, the RTA Act allocated the responsibility for appointments to the RTA Board among three sub-areas in the six-county region, Chicago, suburban cook County, and the five collar counties. The corporate authorities and governing body of the RTA is a board of directors consisting of 13 directors.

The appointment procedures for the RTA Board of directors are delineated in section 3.01 of the RTA Act:

"(a) Four Directors appointed by the Mayor of the City of Chicago, with the advice and consent of the City Council of the City of Chicago, and a fifth director who shall be the Chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority. Each such Director shall reside in the City of Chicago except the Chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority who shall reside within the metropolitan area as defined in the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act [70 ILCS 3605/1 et seq.]

(b) Four Directors appointed by the members of the Cook County Board elected from that part of Cook County outside of Chicago, or, in the event such Board of Commissioners becomes elected from single member districts, by those Commissioners elected from districts, a majority of the electors of which reside outside Chicago. In either case, such appointment shall be with the concurrence of four such Commissioners. Each such Director shall reside in that part of Cook County outside Chicago.

(c) Two Directors appointed by the Chairmen of the county boards of Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties, with the concurrence of not less than a majority of the Chairmen from such counties, from nominees by the Chairmen. Each such Chairman may nominate not more than 2 persons for each position. Each such Director shall reside in a county in the metropolitan region other than Cook or DuPage Counties.

(d) One Director shall be appointed by the Chairman of the Board of DuPage County with the advice and consent of the County Board of DuPage ...


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