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Mayor plans to announce a major CTA project: Sneed

Robert Yolles MonicYolles (nee Serpe). Provided photo.

Robert Yolles and Monica Yolles (nee Serpe). Provided photo.

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Updated: November 28, 2013 6:47AM

Sneed exclusive. . .

Rahm ‘em. . .

Scoopsville: Sneed has learned Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who credits his decision to rebuild a section of the Red Line train system as one of his biggest accomplishments, plans to announce another major CTA project soon.

“It’s similar to the just completed Red Line south CTA improvement project of CTA President Forrest Claypool and Mayor Emanuel,” said a top Sneed source.

“The work will further reduce slow zones and substantially increase speed of ride,” the source added.

◆ Backshot: The new and improved section of the South Side Red Line, which now features updated stations and an entirely new track bed — just reopened last week.

The Skype connection. . .

It was a case of justice delivered via Skype.

Sneed has learned Natasha McShane, the Irish foreign exchange student savagely beaten with a baseball bat in 2010, was toasted by her family via Skype shortly after her assailant, Heriberto Viramontes, was found guilty of attempted murder, facing up to 120 years in prison.

“It was a bittersweet toast,” said a Sneed source. “But it was a toast nonetheless.”

“Hip, hip, hooray, hip, hip, hooray,” the crowd cheered McShane over the Internet in the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who provided the champagne.

Alvarez, who had never seen McShane before, “was extremely moved . . . she was very emotional,” the source added.

Said Alvarez: “Natasha should have been welcomed to this city with an open heart, and instead she was struck down with a baseball bat. It is a case that shattered the hearts of all Chicagoans in some way.”

Now, severely brain-damaged and living back home in Northern Ireland, Natasha’s Skype appearance showed an “engaged woman unable to talk,” said a source.

It was after 1 a.m. in Ireland when Natasha’s parents, brother and sister, who attended the Chicago trial, were able to talk to their daughter.

Also present was Natasha’s friend, Stacy Jurich, who was also beaten in Viramontes’ attack as he went after their purses.

“Stacy had a private Skype talk with Natasha out of anyone’s earshot,” said the source.

The eraser set. . .

Cut ’em: Sneed hears Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who is trying to cut spending in the massive county budget, just lost one of her reportedly hardest workers.

◆ To wit: Did Preckwinkle, who recently dusted her chief of staff, just take a machete to Jim D’Amico, who is “retiring” from the Cook County Facilities Management Department? Or did he quit due to frustration? D’Amico was hired by former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger in 2008.

◆ Backshot: D’Amico, a Cook County employee for the past 30 years, abruptly resigned Friday as head of the department that manages all the county’s buildings and property.

◆ All in the family: D’Amico hails from one of Chicago’s legendary political families: He is the nephew of Ald. Marge Laurino and the grandson of the legendary 39th ward chieftain Ald. Tony Laurino.

The Durbin dossier. . .

Pencils poised! The unflappable Sen. Dick Durbin, a stalwart supporter of President Barack Obama, who has yet to comment on the White House’s embarrassing public denial of a comment he made on Facebook (which he still stands by) — will speak at the City Club of Chicago breakfast at 8 a.m. Monday at Maggiano’s downtown. Republican Sen. John McCain also will be there, and the two will talk about immigration.

Sneedlings. . .

They were frequent morning visitors to the Three Tarts Cafe and Bakery in Northfield. Retired uber attorney Bob Yolles, the raconteur; his wife, Monica (nee Serpe) Yolles, the brilliant, but patient listener with the beautiful smile. Sadly, Bob lost his beloved Monica Thursday, who died at age 74. Too soon. Too sad. Together 54 years. It’s a statistic of devotion. . . Saturday’s birthdays: Hillary Clinton, 66; Dylan McDermott, 52, and Natalie Merchant, 50. . . Sunday’s birthdays: John Cleese, 74; Simon Le Bon, 55, and Julius Watson, 92.

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