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Chicago Mayor Names Commissioner Of Department of Aviation

Richard Rodriguez has been named commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Aviation.

The appointment by Mayor Richard Daley comes after previous Commissioner Nuria Fernandez’s resignation April 16.

Rodriguez, 37, has served on Daley’s Cabinet as head of the Building Department since June. In that role, he worked to integrate the functions of that department and the Department of Construction and Permits, and worked to improve the inspection process and streamline the permit fee process.

In his new position, he will be responsible for Chicago O’Hare International (ORD) and Midway (MDW).

“Rich has proven to be a strong manager during his time at the Buildings Department and at DCAP, and I believe this type of experience and the results he has been able to generate will be a great asset to the Chicago Airport System,” Daley says.

Fernandez, who had been appointed by the mayor in April 2006, left the job under pressure. Sources cite the city’s failure to close the deal with United Airlines and America Airlines for the second phase of expansion for Chicago O’Hare International (ORD), as well as the airport’s poor record for flight delays and cancellations.

Rodriguez, who is a lawyer, began his career as legal counsel in the Office of the Attorney General of Guam in 1997. He later became Deputy Director of the Recovery Coordination Office in the Guam Governor’s Office.

In 1999, he became a field attorney for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington D.C., and then worked as manager of procurement policy and market research for the Chicago Public Schools before joining the Chicago Housing Authority, where he was managing director of operations. In addition, he was managing deputy commissioner of real estate and planning in the Department of Aviation.

Rodriguez earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and communications from Loyola University Chicago and a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law. His salary in his new post will be $165,612 a year.