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Metra Board Picks ‘Railroad Man’ As Interim Director

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Don Orseno, a 40-year veteran of the railroad industry, was selected as Metra's interim executive director on Aug. 27, 2013. (Credit: CBS)

Don Orseno, a 40-year veteran of the railroad industry, was selected as Metra’s interim executive director on Aug. 27, 2013. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Metra Board has selected a 40-year “railroad man” as its interim executive director, to help move the troubled transit agency forward.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Don Orseno has been serving as Metra’s operations chief, and has been working in the railroad industry for 40 years.

“He’s got a lot of experience in the market that we’re in. We run a railroad, and Don is a railroad man,” Acting Metra Chairman Jack Partelow said.

The Metra board unanimously approved Orseno’s selection as interim executive director, over administration chief Alex Wiggins. The two had been sharing responsibility for running the agency since the board ousted CEO Alex Clifford in June.

“I’m looking forward to working with everybody, and continue to do what we do best, is provide value ridership for our customers,” he said.

Partelow said having two people run the agency did not work well, and didn’t square with state law.

Orseno said his biggest challenge will be “getting everybody together, and nurturing the team spirit that we have, and just continuing to make Metra a better place. We always want to look towards the positive, and make Metra a better place, and get more riders, and whatever we have to do.”

Asked how Metra gets beyond the taint of alleged political patronage, Orseno said if they do the right things for the right reasons, everything else will follow.

Clifford was stepped down as the head of Metra in June, awarded a severance package worth up to $871,000. He later said he was forced out after resisting patronage hiring requests.

Five Metra board members have since resigned, leaving the board without enough members to elect a new permanent CEO. Eight votes are needed to do so, but only four votes are needed to elect an interim CEO.

Orseno said he wouldn’t be making any changes at Metra until he talks to the board.

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