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Editorial: Don’t railroad Metra just for a name change

Master harpmaker Michael Lewandowski Ly  Healy’s Chicago showroom 2008.  |  Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media

Master harpmaker Michael Lewandowski in Lyon & Healy’s Chicago showroom in 2008. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 1, 2012 6:20AM

You don’t have to look very deep to divine the real meaning of state Rep. Luis Arroyo’s recent, shall we say, chat with Metra.

Arroyo (D-Chicago), who wants to rename Metra’s station at Fullerton and Pulaski, denies he was strong-arming anybody.

But how else would an experienced Chicagoan interpret his Sept. 14 statement to the Metra board in which he first explains how much influence he has over Metra’s state funding and then says, “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 for helping me rename the Healy station ‘Roberto Clemente.’ ”

Arroyo’s Northwest Side district includes a large Latino constituency, so renaming the station would give him something to talk about on the campaign trail. And it wouldn’t cost him a nickel.

But if he wants to make the case for a new name, he should do so in a straightforward manner, in a debate strictly on the merits of the issue.

Public transportation is critical to the economic health of the region, yet it has been starved of funding for years. It’s alarming to hear someone in a position of authority even toy with the idea of unnecessarily hurting public transit.

And as for this particular name change, let’s remember Healy wasn’t some long-forgotten ward heeler. The station is named for one of the founders of Lyon & Healy, a harpmaking business that has stayed loyal to Chicago since it was founded in 1864 and still turns out harps at a factory at Ogden and Lake in the West Loop.

At a time when Chicago needs to hold on to every possible job and attract new ones, that’s a record worth honoring.

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