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The Dart file

Sneed hears Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's abrupt decision to drop out of the mayoral race Wednesday may have begun a week ago -- when a rally scheduled to kick off Dart's mayoral campaign two days after the Nov. 2 election was canceled.

?Reason No. 1: Sneed is told the South Side rally in Beverly was shelved shortly after Dart learned fliers for the rally were being passed out in his office by one of his workers -- a no-no for government employees -- and feared it might become a Shakman decree problem. (Dart has reportedly worked hard to keep his office in Shakman compliance.)

?Reason No. 2: Dart's angst was coupled this month with another embarrassing situation prompting him to personally apologize to an elderly couple frightened when sheriff's police officers erred by breaking into their Southwest Side home.

?Reason No. 3: "You've got to have a fire in your belly to run for mayor and Dart opted to direct that energy to his job and family instead," said a source.The Quinn bin . . .

The turn of the screw: Overheard on an elevator from a Gov. Quinn supporter: "If Quinn loses the [gubernatorial election], he should run for mayor of Chicago!"Boo!

Top five costumes being sold at Fantasy Costumes, 4065 N. Milwaukee:

1. Cast of ''Jersey Shore''

2. Singer Katy Perry

3. Characters from "Avatar"

4. Characters from the film "Alice in Wonderland"

5. Rod Blagojevich maskTen little Indians . . .

A Wannabe virus- Ten top mayoral hopefuls are now down to six, seemingly dropping like swatted flies. Is the turbine force of Rahm Emanuel propelling the fly swatter- The Rahmster, who is all over da place, was last spotted chattin' 'em up at the Waveland Bowling Alley Wednesday night.Max, overboard!

It looks like Max Kennedy, a member of the famous Kennedy tribe, has yet to get a firm grip on removing his capsized houseboat "River Maiden'' from Lake Michigan. The boat sank near the old U.S. Steel yard in June ... and at last peek a second crane was being brought in to lift the boat, under water since June. Details, details . . .

The following is one of the most thorough tips e-mailed to Sneed:

"On Sunday afternoon [1:50 p.m. to be exact], a black, Chevrolet Suburban pulled up to the AMC River East 21 theaters, 322 E. Illinois St.

"Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, a large, bodyguard-type man, a woman and a young girl exited the Suburban and entered the theaters, leaving the SUV illegally parked in front of the theaters in a No Stopping/No Standing Tow Zone.

"The Suburban was parked there for at least 50 minutes. I do not know how long it stayed there since I had left the area after 50 minutes. The license plate number on the Suburban was M 920 306. I took cell phone pictures of the vehicle if you want them."

?Sneedless to say, our calls to Stroger's office went unanswered, but the car is registered to his office pool.Sneedlings . . .

Train talk: He wasn't shoveling coal, but former Illinois Central Industries chairman William B. Johnson, 90, invited his family and friends aboard his "last run" on the private three-car I.C. Director's Special to the U. of I. homecoming game Saturday. How times change: In 1948, the Illinois Central ran three fan trains to the game. . . . Congrats to Circuit Court Judge Maureen Connors on being elevated to the Illinois Appellate Court. . . . Today's birthdays: John Cullerton, 62; Julia Roberts, 43; Dennis Franz, 66, and Joaquin Phoenix, 36.