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New tollway director, ICC chair named

Friday, Apr 19, 2019

* Sun-Times

The Illinois Tollway on Thursday named Jose Alvarez, the former COO of the Chicago Housing Authority, as its executive director, as Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration completed a full sweep of the tollway’s board.

Alvarez also served as deputy chief of staff for Chicago Public Schools and chief of staff for the state superintendent of education for Washington, D.C., schools.

Alvarez replaces interim director Kevin Artl, who previously served as chief operating officer. Artl led the agency after former Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman, whom former Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed in 2018, left the board in mid-March.

* Daily Herald

“He’s been there and done it,” tollway Chairman Will Evans said. “He’s got experience running a large agency; the CHA is, I think, the second largest housing authority in the United States.

“You’ve got a large organization that he’s been used to managing, he made a lot of changes and it’s really a great team member that’s going to join us.”

Alvarez’s hiring comes with the backing of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, who on Feb. 28 replaced the entire tollway board in the wake of concerns about cronyism in hiring and contracts. Usually, governors let tollway directors finish out their terms.

Alvarez replaces former Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman, an influential Republican, who was picked with support from former GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner in February 2018. Gorman exited March 15 this year.

* Daily Energy Insider

Gov. JB Pritzker made two new appointments to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) this week, naming Commissioner Carrie Zalewski chairman and adding Maria Bocanegra to the commission.

Both positions still require approval from the Senate. That said, outgoing ICC chairman Brien Sheahan has already congratulated Zalewski on her new position, which follows her recent, five-year term appointment to the ICC. By contrast, Bocanegra will serve only a four-year term.

Both women come to their positions from backgrounds as attorneys and in public service. […]

Zalewski has worked as a state regulator, on the Illinois Pollution Control Board and as Assistant Chief Counsel for the Illinois Department of Transportation, in addition to private practice work. She also received her education in-state, at Chicago-Kent Law School and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. […]

Bocanegra has served as an arbitrator at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, in the public seat on the Labor Advisory Board for the Illinois Department of Labor, in addition to her private practice work. She is a graduate of DePaul University College of Law and Quincy University.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

22 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 10:51 am:

    –The Illinois Tollway on Thursday named Jose Alvarez, the former COO of the Chicago Housing Authority, as its executive director,–

    I’m going to take a wild guess that some suburban lawmakers aren’t going to make the connection between running the CHA and running the tollway.

    I suspect some will not be happy.


  2. - Hard D - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 10:58 am:

    Wordslinger- I bet the connection they do make is that Rahm is now running the tollway.


  3. - Anon - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:00 am:

    Don’t know Alvarez at all and wish him the best of luck. However, this seems like the same old politics, just different party.

    Evans is obviously spinning this. As they say,
    the easiest thing to sell is truth. So, what’s Evans selling?

    The tollway may have its issues, but it has talented staff and serves the motoring public well. CHA and CPS aren’t examples of effective organizations and if the tollway is run similarly, we’re in for a long ride.


  4. - SuburbanCook - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:06 am:

    -…and if the tollway is run similarly, we’re in for a long ride.-

    A long, bumpy ride — *ba dum tss*


  5. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:16 am:

    Carrie Z is awesome and was an accomplished attorney for IDOT and the IL Pollution Control Board. Some people would say her career was advanced by being a state legislator’s spouse, but she is more than qualified and takes a deep dive into her work.


  6. - Roads Scholar - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:47 am:

    Great pick for the ICC. Big shoes to fill for the PCB.


  7. - Chip - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:48 am:

    == Some people would say her career was advanced by being a state legislator’s spouse, but she is more than qualified and takes a deep dive into her work. ==

    Why can’t both be true? I know many extremely smart and dedicated state employees who will never get above Public Service Administrator because they don’t have any connections and are in very flat org charts. This isn’t meant to be a knock on her, but the reality is that when you get to the top, who is know is definitely more important in the final hiring decision than whether you can do the job, since basically everyone can do it.


  8. - StateworkerD - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 12:01 pm:

    Looking at Alvarez background in education and at the Chicago Housing Authority, if JB Pritzker was serious about the Illinois Tollway he should never been granted an interview or let alone get a job with his lack of credentials.


  9. - Demopower - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 12:06 pm:

    In my 25 year at the Illinois Tollway, without a doubt Alvarez has the least qualified resume.


  10. - Chunga - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 12:07 pm:

    Alvarez will do fine at ITHA he just has to watch out for a Deloitte created new system monster fail.
    Carrie Z. Is great people. Great addition.


  11. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 12:21 pm:

    Qualifications are unimportant. Politics dictate who gets on these boards. the real issue is cost. The average salary is about $32,000 for a board member. If you add the 12 regular monthly meetings and add 8 committee meetings and then add another 10 ad hoc meetings, you’re looking at about $1000 dollars a meeting. Even if you add in time for review materials that is either outrageous or a sweet deal. But for a state that is still neck deep in debt and a tollway system that keeps finding news ways to spend money, perhaps the board could find it in their hearts to reduce their salaries a little.


  12. - Tollway Veteran - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 12:29 pm:

    Everyone on pins and needles because of this past Wednesday, two women who have been here 25 years each got fired both Democrats (btw). So the question is, why did they get fired before Alvarez was officially hired and who authorized it? Only Evans could have ordered it so was he sending a message to Alvarez (I’m the boss). Not good another 4 years of inter-office fighting between Chairman and E.D. is upon us.


  13. - My view - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 12:57 pm:

    ==- Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:16 am:

    Carrie Z is awesome and was an accomplished attorney for IDOT and the IL Pollution Control Board. Some people would say her career was advanced by being a state legislator’s spouse, but she is more than qualified and takes a deep dive into her work.==

    Some would say Rep. Zalewski’s career was advanced by being married to Carrie. Or that the two of them have worked hard to build a family and maintain careers, with both finding ways to sacrifice. Carrie is one of the most qualified lawyers around.


  14. - Tolly Tollster - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 1:38 pm:

    Demopower really?

    Kristi LaFluer was deputy chief of staff at DCEO, Greg Bedalov was the economic development coordinator for Downers Grove and then DuPage County, and Liz Gorman was an elected official. Which of those scream major experience?

    Sure seems like running an a large agency like the CHA and having leadership experience in other large government agencies is a lot more experience than the last 3 Executive Directors combined.


  15. - Lincoln Lad - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 1:55 pm:

    I’m with Tolly Tollster. Management skills, commitment, and the ability to lead matter most. It’s a large agency with professionals in key roles. You just need to listen to them, unlike what some others of late didn’t do.


  16. - Life Long R - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 2:16 pm:

    Tolly Tollster- Cant say i disagree but like her or not, Gorman has a masters from Notre Dame in Business and was a managing director for a division of PWC. Thats a pretty strong resume JMO.


  17. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 2:43 pm:

    I hear Carrie Z is awesome. And it’s great that we’ll finally get an ICC chair who represents consumers and not just the utilities.


  18. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 2:57 pm:

    ==- Tollway Veteran - those two women were fired because they engaged in hiring improprieties. Politics had nothing to do with it. Doubtful Evans even knew who they were, other than from the IG report. And the Chairman of the Board’s approval isn’t needed to fire employees for misconduct.


  19. - Amalia - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 4:00 pm:

    Tollway Tollster hits it. Liz Gorman could not possibly be as qualified as Alvarez. Corporations hire outside the discipline all the freaking time.


  20. - Nobody Sent - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 4:05 pm:

    Re ICC and “Carrie Z is awesome,” the fact remains that had she not been politically connected in some way, she would not have been appointed. Same for other appointees. There are many very qualified but not politically connected individuals who don’t even get acknowledged when they apply. Politics always supersedes qualifications–its just that simple. And in the context of the ICC, we continue to have 5 commissioners from the Chicago area. I find it extremely difficult to believe that JB could find no one “qualified” in any sense of the word from downstate.


  21. - gimmy yum yum - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 4:18 pm:

    ===Gorman has a masters from Notre Dame in Business=== If memory serves me, I believe she used a controversial Cook County expense account to pay for this degree. This was an over the top taxpayer money grab that the Cook County Commissioner had to fatten their pay without voting for a pay raise. Also, didn’t she and her hubby have all kinds of controversy surrounding their failed car dealership


  22. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 4:19 pm:

    ===JB could find no one “qualified” in any sense of the word from downstate===

    How does being born and raised in Ottawa, IL strike you? Carrie Z was that person.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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