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Scoopsville: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is exiting office

U.S. Dept. TransportatiSecretary Ray LaHood signing inlaw next phase Illinois Jobs Now! Capital plan. The event was held future highway/rail

U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at signing into law the next phase of the Illinois Jobs Now! Capital plan. The event was held at a future highway/rail project in Bellwood Tuesday, July 10, 2012. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 16, 2013 6:31AM



Sneed exclusive . . .

Scoopsville: Sneed has learned that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is exiting office — ending speculation about his future in the Obama administration.

“He is definitely leaving office — perhaps in the next few months,” said a top top Obama source. However, fellow Illinois resident — and presidential BFF — Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is expected to stay on.

◆ Speculation: LaHood, who backtracked recently on his original stance that he would leave office after President Barack Obama’s first term, will be replaced by a woman.

◆ Hmmm: Could that femme be former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who got passed up for a Cabinet post during the last go-round?

The Khan file . . .

Sneed hears that the body of million-dollar lottery winner Urooj Khan, who mysteriously died before he could pick up his bulk payout of $425,000, will be exhumed on Thursday, according to a top police source.

◆ Backshot: About a week after his July death, police received a call saying Khan needed to be re-examined — and tests done on samples from Khan’s body showed evidence of cyanide poisoning. Khan’s wife, Shabana Ansari, told police she had fixed his dinner the night of his death, which was attended by four people.

◆ Killshot: Sneed is told that it was one of Khan’s brothers who reportedly called the Cook County medical examiner’s office to investigate Urooj Khan’s agonizing death.

◆ Upshot: “The Khan exhumation at Rosehill Cemetery is on for Thursday because the medical examiner is due back Wednesday night from a family funeral,” a police source said.

Guns & glory . . .

Watch for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s gun-control regulations to be introduced at the Illinois General Assembly on Tuesday requiring gun owners to notify the State Police when a handgun is lost or stolen, thereby slowing down the illegal transfer of what’s called “straw purchasing” of weapons. Currently, there are no laws governing how stolen or lost handguns should be reported.

A dance chance . . .

Former first lady hopeful Ann Romney, a big “Dancing With the Stars” fan, was approached by the show’s producers after the election to appear on the show, but she recently turned down their offer. Romney was reportedly “very interested” in the reality show and attended several meetings about joining the cast before deciding against it, according to TMZ.

The eraser set . . .

Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard recently accepted a position as a senior adviser for the College Board in Washington, D.C. Brizard will help the company, which oversees the administration of national SAT testing, “develop the College Board’s initiatives to strengthen and expand career education in the nation’s middle schools, high schools and community colleges,” a source said. He starts Feb. 1.

The Jackson file . . .

Sneed hears former Ald. Sandi Jackson’s chief of staff, Keiana Barrett, was under consideration as the alderman’s replacement since her abrupt resignation last week —until it was discovered that Barrett didn’t live in the ward.

◆ A top Sneed source said because of the “political decline of the Jackson and [Cook County Commissioner Bill] Beavers contingent, it doesn’t look like there is anyone out there to select without community input for potential appointees.” Stay tuned.

Ergo, Argo . . .

Former CIA operative Tony Mendez, whose bravura rescue of Americans in Iran during the 1980 hostage crisis became the focus of actor and director Ben Affleck’s hit film, is now an artist who paints landscapes and operates a gallery in the Blue Ridge Mountains. According to the Washington Post, Mendez lives in seclusion and has recently seen the market for his paintings increase.

Obamarama . . .

Malik Obama, half-brother of President Barack Obama, plans to run for governor of the western Kenyan county of Siaya as an independent candidate this March.

Sneedlings . . .

Tuesday’s birthdays: Charo, 62; Chad Lowe, 45, and Margaret O’Brien, 76.

The royal baby . . .

Blimey! There are not two buns in the royal oven.

◆ Translation: Despite speculation Kate Middleton and her hubby, Prince William, might be expecting twins because of the severity of her morning sickness, they are not. Whew! That keeps name selection down to one. That also keeps selection of which one would sit on the British throne easy. Due date: July.



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