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Sneed: Column item, Sun-Times report prompted Metra shake-up

A Metrpolice car guards overpass 100th St. Thursday Sept. 27 2007 south side Chicago as MetrElectric Line trapasses. The FBI

A Metra police car guards the overpass at 100th St., Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007 on the south side of Chicago, as a Metra Electric Line train passes. The FBI is investigating whether a section of the commuter train tracks was sabotaged after Metra workers discovered a dozen railroad spikes missing in the area. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) ORG XMIT: ILMG108

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Updated: June 27, 2013 6:59AM

The Metra mess. . .

Finally! Metra seems to be on track.

Sneed hears Sharon Austin, a former Metra ticket agent manager who Sneed claimed drew the ire of Metra police when she became their overseer, is out.

◆ Translation: Austin, who was Metra’s senior corporate director of police and emergency preparedness, was at the helm of its security force when Sneed blasted the agency in March for failing to keep up with police gun recertification tests, due to lack of proper ammunition, and police complaints of old cop cars and radios.

◆ Final shot: Last Monday, Sun-Times reporter Chris Fusco uncovered a cadre of Metra police officers raking in a truckload of overtime last year during Austin’s watch.

◆ Buckshot: Sneed is told Austin has been reassigned within the transit agency, and Metra Chief of Police James Sanford will retire at the end of the year. “[Austin] has offered to take on new responsibilities,” a Metra spokesperson said in a statement.

◆ Backshot: “Her 30 years of railroad experience and her unique skill set can best be used by Metra,” the spokesperson added. “Under her new duties, she will oversee important agency initiatives, which are currently being finalized.”

◆ Flipshot: A Sneed source in the Metra police department disputes the official Metra story, saying it was common knowledge that Sanford was retiring, but Austin was “blindsided” by the agency’s board removing her from her post on Monday.

The source claimed Sneed’s coverage of the problems in the department and additional Sun-Times coverage of the overtime abuse among the officers “played a big role” in Austin’s removal . . . but that Fusco’s story was probably the final straw.

Oh, Obama!

Obama drama! Time magazine’s publication of President Barack Obama’s 1979 prom photo in Hawaii — accompanied by a flirtatious message he wrote in gal pal Kelli Allman’s yearbook — resulted in this comment by Allman to a Honolulu news station:

“He was pretty good at [flirting],” said Allman. “And we had a lot of fun playing around with words and winks and smiles and all of that. But, he was a total gentleman. It was all innocent.”

The Sneed file. . .

Did you know. . .

◆ Former Mayor Richard M. Daley had a fish tank in his City Hall office.

◆ Former Mayor Jane Byrne had a gyrating Gloria Marshall exercise table in her mayoral office.

◆ Former Mayor Harold Washington had a makeshift kitchen in an outer City Hall office.

◆ Bodyguards for the late Mayor Richard J. Daley were ordered to clean up the alewives littering hizzoner’s beach at his summer home in Michigan.

Now you do.

$$$$$. . .

Janet is a billionaire: Janet Jackson, sister of the late singer, Michael Jackson, is wealthy in her own right. The newly classified billionairess made a reported $458 million from concert tours, $304 million from acting roles in films like “For Colored Girls” and “Why Did I Get Married?,” $260 million in album sales and $81 million in sponsorships.

Trump ‘em. . .

It’s in the details: So how did Jacqueline Goldberg, the 87-year-old grandmother, keep calm during the Chicago court proceedings she wound up losing last week to real estate mogul Donald “You’re fired!” Trump?

◆ Answer: Goldberg read Agatha Christie mystery novels.

I spy. . .

Actor Rob Lowe was spotted lunching at RL Friday. Lowe is in town promoting “Behind the Candelabra”, the new Liberace biopic set to air on HBO on Sunday . . . and Sneed is glad one of her favorite past eateries, Alex Dana’s legendary Centro Ristorante, which closed more than a decade ago, is reopening and will try to stay true to the ‘90’s menu by Rosebud chef Joe Farina.

Sneedlings. . .

Saturday’s birthdays: Mike Myers, 50; Aly Raisman, 19, and Sir Ian McKellen, 74. . . Sunday’s birthdays: Lenny Kravitz, 49; Stevie Nicks, 65, and Candace Jordan, priceless.

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