Marianne Markowitz strolls through a hallway at the regional headquarters of the U.S. Small Business Administration in the Loop, not pausing to glance at the two official portraits, one of President Barack Obama, that are the only decor on a yawning stretch of white wall.
She stops at a towering wooden door, fiddling with her keys before turning the knob and entering a bland, taupe-and-tan space.
"I might have the ugliest office in the whole region," she says, her grayish-blue eyes sparkling.
It helps that she spends so little time inside it.
Since being appointed as a regional administrator of the Small...