- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn’s former campaign manager was named head of Illinois’ sports facilities agency Monday, on a divided vote after a heated exchange, just five weeks before the Democratic governor leaves office.

Lou Bertuca, 30, was given a two-year contract for the $160,000-a-year post by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority board on a 4-3 vote. 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.

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.

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner, a Republican who beat Quinn last month, pledged to try to reverse the appointment. Asked at an event in Chicago about Bertuca’s appointment before the Monday afternoon board action, Rauner said, “There’s Illinois, isn’t it? Right there.”

Bertuca’s salary is the same as Kraft’s, according to board spokesman Michael Alvarez.

“Lou Bertuca’s management skills, government experience and legislative expertise will serve the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority and the ballpark very well,” board chairman Emil Jones Jr. said in a prepared statement. “Lou is a smart, effective leader and we look forward to working with him.”

But the board - made up of four gubernatorial appointees and three by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel - exchanged words before the vote to approve Bertuca. Crain’s Chicago Business reported (https://bit.ly/1udpyp6 ) that Emanuel loyalists on the board criticized the speedy appointment without a national search.

“The taxpayers of the state of Illinois are due a transparent process in how we select the executive director,” board member Jim Reynolds, CEO of Loop Capital, said. “That’s not what happened today.”

Jones rejected criticism that the board should wait for Rauner to take office, saying if the incoming executive wanted a say in the matter, “he should have picked up the telephone and called, but I haven’t heard from him.”

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, although Quinn’s office said Monday he served as a deputy chief of staff. When he left the state payroll in November 2013, he was making $92,000.

“This is a great opportunity to take the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority to the next level,” Bertuca said in the news release. “I’m eager to work with the board and staff to run the authority effectively and efficiently, protect taxpayers and increase recreational opportunities for your in our communities.”

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