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Michael Merchant is Rahm’s ‘perfect choice’ to run CHA: Sneed

Department Buildings Commissioner Michael Merchant restaurant under constructiwith Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks about streamlining building permits August 2011.  |

Department of Buildings Commissioner Michael Merchant, at a restaurant under construction with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, talks about streamlining building permits in August 2011. | Sun-Times file photo

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Updated: November 17, 2013 6:33AM



Sneed exclusive . . .

Sneed has learned that city Buildings Department Commissioner Michael Merchant will become the next head of the Chicago Housing Authority — replacing Charles Woodyard, whom Sneed exclusively tipped last week was exiting the agency’s revolving door.

Sneed also hears Woodyard may have been taken to the woodshed and forced to resign, although City Hall sources claim Mayor Rahm Emanuel felt Woodyard wasn’t moving fast enough to deliver on his CHA transformation plans.

◆ Set shot: Woodyard, who is leaving after a two-year stint at the CHA, claims he is leaving to spend more time with his family. His predecessor, Lewis Jordan, left in 2011 after his use of CHA credit cards came into question.

◆ Backshot: Merchant, a former U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, has impressed the mayor with his ability to turn around the Buildings Department over the last two years — and is reportedly popular with community advocates. Sneed is told that Emanuel feels he has made “the perfect choice.”

Fire ’em?

Grab the fire hose: ABC is furiously denying reports the heralded debut of Jenny McCarthy, the latest member of the hit TV show “The View,” is not going well.

◆ “There is absolutely no truth to this story,” which was reported in Radar Online, said a representative for ABC. Methinks McCarthy invented the word survivor.

Hill swill . . .

Pass the ammunition! Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who may be facing veep Joe Biden as a Dem presidential opponent — got out the Biden bazooka Tuesday.

◆ When queried about the death of Osama bin Laden in a raid approved by President Barack Obama, she let loose the fact Biden opposed the infamous mission — while speaking at a convention for the National Association of Convenience Stores in Atlanta.

◆ How convenient? Hillary painted herself and former CIA director Leon Panetta as the action’s fiercest supporters, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

◆ Backchat: In 2011, Sneed reported that Biden, who recites the rosary daily, was fingering a rosary ring he always carries while watching the raid unfold in the Situation Room at the White House. Guess now we know why.

Hill swill II . . .

Hillary Clinton got a parking ticket Saturday in London while being honored at a diplomatic event.

◆ Stop ’em: The Brit press claims Hill’s personal security staff guarding her car, identified as a silver Mercedes, had been sitting in another car to avoid the rain — and were furious when they failed to stop the meter man from issuing the ticket.

◆ Drop ’em: American diplomats reportedly top the list of UK ticket scofflaws, racking up nearly $12 million in fines in the past 10 years, according to the Daily Mail.

The real Rielle . . .

Rielle Hunter, the ex-mistress of former presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards, is trying to resell her book — which bombed — blasting Edwards’ late wife, Elizabeth.

So Rielle is apologizing.

◆ Her book, “What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me,” is being re-released with annotations of regret.

◆ Hunter claims she behaved badly, is sorry for her wrong, selfish behavior and didn’t think about how her actions would affect everybody, according to a blog post she wrote for the Huffington Post.

◆ Now there’s a novel way of trying to sell a loser novel.

Excuse ’em . . .

Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, the press schmoozer, isn’t blaming the rollout fiasco of Obamacare on Obamacare.

◆ Gibbs gab: The former Obama explainer boils the lack of signups down to a “website architecture problem.”

Sneedlings . . .

I spy: The Rev. Jesse Jackson and nine family members and friends celebrating his birthday Friday at Rosebud on Rush. . . . Wednesday’s birthdays: Suzanne Somers, 67; Tim Robbins, 55; Bob Weir, 66, and Benny the Barber, 94.



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