Suburban worries that Metra troubles may end up giving Chicago more influence

DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin doesn’t want the troubles with Metra to give Chicago an opportunity to grab more power over regional transit:

As Metra tries to function amid scandal, it’s essential the suburbs maintain their influence on the board, DuPage Chairman Dan Cronin warned Friday.

With state lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn pushing to reinvent the troubled agency, there’s a danger whatever emerges will shift the balance of power to Chicago, Cronin said.

“I’m here representing the nearly 1 million people in DuPage County,” Cronin said. “I want to make sure their voice is heard. We have to be mindful of transit needs in the suburbs.”…

Friday marked the first time the board of directors has met since its game-changing session in June when they approved a separation agreement with former CEO Alex Clifford that’s been called a golden parachute at best and “hush money” at worst…

Other fallout included the departures of Kane County appointee Mike McCoy and DuPage’s Paul Darley. McCoy, a civil engineer and former county chairman, and business owner Darley were considered independent voices on the board.

There is not much context here about Cronin’s statements. However, this statement hints at larger issues. This is part of a ongoing power struggle in the Chicago region between the city and suburban interests. There are transit needs in DuPage County including rail lines to Chicago and major highways and roads (plus a lack of mass transit to points within the county itself outside of Metra lines). And Metra is not the only flashpoint; the Regional Transit Authority is another issue. But, this could also simply be a manifestation of something many suburbanites, particularly conservatives, fear: Chicago is a power-hungry entity that can’t wait to dictate more policy to the rest of Illinois. And this may be the reason many suburbanites live there in the first-place or now justify their suburban presence: they wanted to get away from Chicago.

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