No honeymoon for Rodriguez at CTA

Less than a week after regional officials approved $241 million in federal-stimulus projects at the Chicago Transit Authority, the agency's board is set to appoint its new president and review the latest inspector general's report.

Mayor Richard Daley recommended Richard Rodriguez, 38, for the position two weeks ago, to replace former CTA President Ron Huberman, now head of Chicago Public Schools.

Since four of seven CTA board members are Daley's appointees -- three are appointed by the governor -- Rodriguez's appointment was a political certainty as soon as the mayor tapped him for the job.

There will be hardly a honeymoon period for Rodriguez, the former city aviation commissioner, who will join the CTA as it faces a wave of financial hardship.

Among other problems, the agency is strapped with a severe budget shortfall. Last year's deficit, estimated at $87 billion, was about half of the CTA's projected revenue shortage this year, $155 million.

Last month, transit executives from the CTA, Metra commuter rail, Pace suburban bus system and the Regional Transportation Authority, which funds the other agencies, gave state legislators a glimpse of their financial problems.

Days later, in announcing his recommendation, Daley said one of Rodriguez's key responsibilities would be to continue to lobby for money.

"He must fight in Springfield to get Chicago's fair share of funding," Daley said.

Rodriguez will not be the only newly minted official dealing with these challenges. After Chief Financial Officer Dennis Anosike announced his retirement, the CTA board is also set to appoint a new treasurer and assistant treasurer.

Tomorrow's meeting is at 10 a.m. in the second-floor boardroom of 567 W. Lake St. in Chicago.