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Sneed: Penny Pritzker moves closer to Obama Cabinet slot

Wayne Wats| Sun-Times~Tom Cruze

Wayne Watson | Sun-Times~Tom Cruze

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Updated: April 6, 2013 6:29AM

The Pritzker ascendancy ...

Sneed hears rumbles uber-rich Chicago businesswoman Penny Pritzker, who President Barack Obama is anxious to sign on as his commerce secretary, may be in the process of signing an ethics agreement enabling her to so do. The agreement would likely seek to ensure that none of her investments pose conflicts.

◆New Secretary of State John Kerry, whose monied wife was once married to an heir of the Heinz ketchup fortune, also signed an ethics statement. Stay tuned.

The CSU battle ...

Sneed hears the fight over leadership of Chicago State University, the 145-year-old historically black college on Chicago’s South Side, is this/close to being settled and branded a win-win solution.

◆To wit: Word is embattled President Wayne Watson, who agreed to go on a forced sabbatical recently until he found out his replacement was immediate, is expected to win his battle to stay at the school’s helm until the semester is over — instead of going quietly into the night as two CSU board members expected. (Sneed tipped the brouhaha exclusively more than a week ago .)

◆Sneed is told Gov. Pat Quinn, who Watson hoped would come to the rescue by appointing three new CSU board members whose terms had expired, is staying out of the conflict — which has become a pitched battle waged between the old vs. the new black power hierarc hy.

◆On one hand are heavy-hitters such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, his son, Jonathan, and former State Senate President Emil Jones Jr. fighting to retain the presidency of Watson, who has a long history as a Chicago educator and who doesn’t want what had been described as a stellar career to end on a sour note.

◆The flip side: The two CSU board leaders, who have been trying to boot Watson out in order to breathe “new life” into the old institution, are representative of the new guard who have close ties to powerful friends of the Obamas.

◆The end shot: It should all be over at Friday’s CSU board meeting.

As the Worm turns...

Worm words: It should come as no surprise, basketball bad boy Dennis “His Airheadness” Rodman, returned from his kiss-kiss trip to North Korea and power coupling with leader Kim Jong Un to deliver a message that Kim wants President Barack Obama to call him.

◆It should also come as no surprise Obama will do no such “gangnam” thing.

Outside the conclave...

Sneed hears that Cardinal Francis George — now busy helping to pick a pope — recently sent a letter to state Sen. President John Cullerton supporting a resolution showing solidarity with the Greek Orthodox Church in their ability to choose the head of their faith.

◆Translation: The Greek Orthodox church, whose Ecumenical Patriarchate (akin to the Vatican) is based in Turkey, is forced to bend to the choices made by the Turkish government. The passage of the resolution — sponsored by state Sen. Bill Brady — would add Illinois to a list of 42 states asking for religious freedom for the Greek Orthodox faithful.

◆Further translation: They are hoping the state Legislature — led by many religious Roman Catholics — follows through.

I spy...

In case you were wondering what was exploded by a special effects team last Thursday to toast Harry Caray on Thursday: rigged beer glasses! Tom Ricketts, Ernie Banks, Billy Corgan, Richard Dent, Roe Conn, Richard Roeper, Dutchie Caray, Marv Levy, Steve McMichael and Lou Canellis were all present for the explosion ... Steak break: After her onstage workout with first lady Michelle Obama on Thursday at McCormick Place, tennis ace Serena Williams headed over to Chicago Cut for a steak.

The women’s room...

Not a ladies man: Veteran newsman Bob “All the President’s Men” Woodward was recently asked if the choice of actor Robert Redford to portray him in the hit Watergate movie helped him out on the ladies front.

◆Quipped Woodward: “You have no idea how many women I disappointed.”


Tuesday’s birthdays: Eva Mendes, 39; Talia Balsam, 54; and happy belated to Mabell Truitt, 105!

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