City Treasurer Kurt Summers will lead a newly revamped Chicago Infrastructure Trust board

CHICAGO - Three years after its launch by Mayor Rahm Emanuel with former President Clinton by his side, the Chicago Infrastructure Trust is getting a makeover.

Emanuel is putting city treasurer Kurt Summers at the helm of an expanded board with nearly all new members and has tapped first assistant corporation counsel Leslie Darling to serve as executive director.

The Emanuel administration thanked the outgoing board and executive director Steven Beitler, who recently resigned to return to the private sector, as it sought to portray the leadership changes as the next step in the mission of the trust and not as a shakeup.

"The Chicago Infrastructure Trust has the ability to move forward projects that are beneficial to the city, for Chicago's communities and neighborhoods, and this new board will enable us to bring more of these innovative projects over the finish line," Emanuel said in a statement Friday.

Still, the statement underscores how the city's expectations for the trust have evolved, becoming far more modest since its unveiling when Emanuel and finance officials promoted it as a means to fund big, "transformative" infrastructure projects with private investment without burdening the city's balance sheet and tax base.

The city's statement now refers to the CIT's mission as funding "infrastructure projects that benefit Chicago's residents and grow the economy while protecting taxpayers."

The revamped leadership's aim is to move more quickly on the agency's project list and identify new initiatives.

"Our priority is to take the trust to a new level on behalf of taxpayers and drive capital to much needed projects in every neighborhood of Chicago, fueling job creation and economic development," Summers said in the city statement.

In the elected post of treasurer, Summers manages the city's $7 billion investment portfolio. He previously served as chief of staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and in the public sector worked as a senior vice president at Grosvenor Capital Management.

During her tenure in the city's law department, Darling led efforts to comply with court-mandated hiring practices and helped lead the legal team that reached agreement with the Chicago Cubs Organization to modernize Wrigley Field.

She also worked in the private sector in the government group at Ungaretti & Harris LLP.

The trust last year closed in April on a $13 million private placement, off the city's balance sheet, to fund energy retrofits for 60 city buildings.

The trust was forced to scale back the deal's size by more than half and alter other terms to reduce investors' risks. The trust first talked about doing $200 million in retrofit projects in various stages.

The trust also brokered a $32.5 million deal that closed earlier this year with four telecommunications companies to finance the upgrade of wireless phone service in the Chicago Transit Authority's subway system to a 4G network.

The trust is also working on financing for upgrades to public pools operated by the schools and park district and has a handful of other projects are in various phases from the "idea" stage to bidding and request-for-proposals.

They include energy retrofits to the city's outdoor lighting system; combined heat and power upgrades to some city buildings; construction of a network of public access compressed natural gas fueling centers; and museum and zoo energy efficiency upgrades.

The other nominations for board posts are council member Matthew J. O'Shea; Debra Cafaro, CEO at Ventas; Carl Lingenfelter, chief administration officer Northern Trust Hedge Fund Services; Kym Hubbard, global head of investments for Ernst & Young, Global and a prior executive director of the state's chief conduit agency; and Miguel Zarate, a managing partner for Marquette Associates. Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, is a current member and will be reappointed.

Summers replaces James Bell, a retired corporate executive, while the other members replace council member John Pope, former schools finance chief Diana Ferguson, and private attorney David Hoffman. The board is being expanded from five to seven voting members.

The board appointments must be approved by the City Council and the CIT board will vote on Darling's appointment at its next meeting on Aug. 7.

 

 

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