- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - A disputed state contract given to Gov. Pat Quinn’s former campaign manager who was selected to run a city-state agency has more job protections than a predecessor’s contract, an analysis of the two documents shows.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://bit.ly/1x4Ayux ) that 30-year-old Lou Bertuca’s contract to run the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority guarantees he will be paid in full for the two-year position that pays $160,000 annually even if he’s fired. The agency built and operates U.S. Cellular Field, which is home to the Chicago White Sox, and floated $399 million in bonds to renovate Soldier Field, where the Chicago Bears play.

The contract also requires a unanimous vote by the authority board to fire him. The board includes four appointees of the governor and three chosen by the mayor of Chicago. All three of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s picks voted against hiring Bertuca, while Quinn’s picks were in favor of the move.

With the appointment made just weeks before the Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, is scheduled to leave office, incoming GOP Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has said he plans to try to reverse the appointment.

But that task is significantly harder than it had been in the past.

Bertuca replaces outgoing executive director Kelly Kraft, a former Quinn aide who was a contentious pick in 2012. Kraft completed a two-year contract in November and is leaving to attend law school, according to a news release.

While Kraft’s salary, health care benefits and vacation time are the same as those given to Bertuca, Kraft’s contract required only a majority vote for dismissal and would have paid only a two-month severance.

Bertuca has almost exclusively worked for Quinn since he graduated from Lake Forest College. Before running Quinn’s campaign, which the six-year governor lost by 142,000 votes, Bertuca was listed as a “special assistant” to the governor, according to state records. When he left the state payroll in November 2013, he was making $92,000.

Quinn’s office declined to comment Wednesday on the differing details of the contracts given to Kraft and Bertuca. Quinn’s spokesman Grant Klinzman did note that Bertuca’s last role with the state was as a deputy chief of staff to Quinn. Before taking the sports authority job, Kraft had been the governor’s assistant budget director.

Board spokesman Michael Alvarez said in a statement that the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority “evaluates each contract it enters into - whether it be for goods, services, or employment - on a case-by-case basis, always with taxpayers’ best interest in mind.”

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