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State Rep. Arroyo Denies Making "Threat" To Metra To Rename Station After Roberto Clemente

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 29, 2012 10:15PM

Illinois Rep. Luis Arroyo (Photo via the representative's website.)

State Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) is under scrutiny over comments he made to Metra’s Board in September over the possibility of renaming one of their stations after baseball legend Roberto Clemente.

Arroyo, who chairs the House Appropriations-Public Safety Committee in Springfield, reminded Metra’s board that he was very influential in the appropriations process, that naming the Healy station on the Northwest side would be a point of pride among Hispanics in his district, and that it would be mutually beneficial if Metra considered his request.

"I think that Metra, [the] CTA and the mass transit didn’t get any cuts. You guys got all the funding you got. ... "So I’m going to support mass transit. I used to be the chairman of [the House Mass Transit Committee] before and, I don’t know, the speaker . . . sent me to Appropriations to deal with the money so, you know, he says I don’t have no problem cutting and doing this, but I only cut the people that don’t do the right stuff. You do the right stuff, you won’t get cut. So, apparently, you guys didn’t get cut. So I don’t think — you guys did a good job, so you won’t get cut.

"So that’s why I’m here today, pleading with you and seeing, before you make any drastic changes on the way you name stations, I would like to get your support on helping me rename Healy station ‘Roberto Clemente.’"

(Read the full transcript of Arroyo’s remarks here.)

State Rep. David Reis (R-Olney), who sits on Arroyo’s committee, told the Sun-Times and the Better Government Association he “could see easily how that could be construed as a threat.” Having read the transcript, we would tend to agree with Reis and believe Arroyo’s comments were clumsy, at the very least. Arroyo told the Sun-Times and BGA only people who “had their mind in the wrong place” could see his remarks as a threat.

The Healy Metra station, on the agency’s Milwaukee District/North line at Fullerton and Pulaski, is set for extensive renovations and is currently in the design phase of the project. Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said work hasn’t started on the project as the agency is awaiting construction funds. All the more reason Arroyo’s comments are being scrutinized.