New Aviation Commissioner Faces Challenges

As the Chicago Department of Aviation commissioner steps down, her replacement will face a series of challenges. 

Ginger Evans will officially resign Aug. 1 and will be succeeded by the current Chief Procurement Officer Jamie Rhee, officials said.

Starting her career with the City of Chicago in 1994 as an airport information officer, Rhee has worked for the city for nearly 24 years in various roles, the city said.

As Chicago’s CPO, Rhee is responsible for purchasing approximately $2 billion in goods and services for dozens of user departments of the City of Chicago, including the CDA, and the certification of thousands of minority, women-owned, disadvantaged business enterprises, as well as Veteran-owned businesses and businesses operated by people with disabilities and the Airport Concessionaire Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) program.

“I am honored to continue my work with the City to serve its residents in any way that I can, and I am humbled by the Mayor’s faith in me,” Rhee said in a statement. “This is a tremendous opportunity to continue the work that we have done to highlight Chicago’s innovation, integrity, inclusion and transparency to the world.”

Rhee’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Chicago City Council.

Evans, whose salary is $300,000 with a $100,000 bonus, is the most highly compensated Chicago employee. Rhee will make $275,000 with no bonus in her contract.

Evans recently helped broker a huge leasing at O’Hare International Airport for new terminals.

Meanwhile, Midway Airport concessions are undergoing a complete overhaul that will take years to complete. In the meantime, there are plenty of complaints. Midway travelers tell NBC 5 they’re not so impressed with the food options.

"Usually I go on concourse a and it's new and it's a long way, and there's not many concessions between here and there," one traveler said.

A few of the Midway online reviews say "the food selection is so awful" to "worst airport food in the country." The deputy commissioner for concessions Juan Manzano spearheaded the changes at Midway and also faces five complaints from aviation employees of bullying and harassment.

Freedom of information act requests reveal several ongoing investigations at the aviation department.

There are also complaints from several aviation union employees who tell NBC 5 they must do political campaign work in order to receive preferred assignments or overtime. As for the harassment investigation into Manzano — no findings have been released.

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