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Sneed: Preckwinkle lunched with health insurance bidder

Gulp!

Sneed has learned Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and her political director, Scott Kastrup, had lunch at Petterino’s this week with Maurice Smith, the new president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, former labor leader Dennis Gannon, who is now a member of the company’s board, and Illinois Teamster President John Coli.

Interesting.

Cook County is now in the process of evaluating bids to provide health insurance for all its about 22,000 employees — which also includes the current provider, Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

“Once the bids hit the street, there is absolutely supposed to be no communication between the administration and bidders during a live procurement,” said a Sneed source who asked not to be identified — but is familiar with the bidding process.

“I find it hard to believe no one mentioned the evaluation of the bid at the lunch,” added the source.

• The flip side: “This was strictly a meet-and-greet lunch at their request,” Kastrup told Sneed.

OPINION

“It was a get-to-know-you lunch to meet the new guy in town, which is Maurice Smith, the new head of Blue Cross and Blue Shield [of Illinois].

“There was absolutely no discussion of any contract of any nature,” he emphasized.

Karen Vaughan, Preckwinkle’s press secretary, tells Sneed Cook County ethics rules allow Preckwinkle “to accept meals up to 75 dollars — and there was no county business discussed during the lunch. Since she took office she has done a lot to strengthen the procurement process.”

“The responses [bids] are evaluated by the evaluation board, it’s a specific process, the president is not involved. She has nothing to do with the procurement process,” Vaughan added.

So who picked up the bill, and how much was it?

“The bill was $126 for five people; it was paid for by John Coli — and I had a Caesar salad,” said Kastrup.

Burpsville.

Gulp II?

Sneed hears Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has been known to send a dead fish to political foes, was tempted to send his buddy Gov. Bruce “The city of Chicago’s in deep, deep yogurt” Rauner, a case of yogurt — but opted not to doo doo it. Get it?

‘Chiraq’ squawk . . .

Flick flak: Ald. Will Burns (4th), who is urging the state not to give film director Spike Lee a $3 million tax break for making a flick titled “Chiraq” — claiming it will denigrate the city’s South Side — tells Sneed he has been fielding calls from motion picture industry lobbyists concerned his request would have a chilling effect on production in Chicago.

Burns countered: “The title could have a chilling effect on the city’s economic development on the South Side.”

Obama drama . . .

The film based on the love story of Michelle and Barack Obama has its stars.

• To wit: The movie, “Southside With You,” will feature actor Parker “Zero Dark Thirty” Sawyers as the young president, and Tika “Get On Up” Sumpter as the future first lady, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

They’re teaming up to tell the story of the summer night in 1989 when Barack took Michelle on the couple’s first date, which began at the Art Institute of Chicago and ended with a viewing of Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing.”

• The kicker: The film will shoot here this August, after Lee wraps up his own movie shooting in town, “Chiraq.”

The Axe man . . .

Mitt Romney is coming!

Former White House senior adviser David Axelrod, who has been on his “Believer” book tour, tells Sneed 100 journalists nationwide are heading to his Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago this weekend for a primer on covering the 2016 race.

“Lots of exciting things happening,” he tells Sneed. “Mitt Romney is heading there May 20.

“As for Rahm, I’m out of the campaign business in the U.S. Any advice I gave him was strictly as a friend of more than 30 years,” he said.

Sneedlings . . .

Friday’s birthdays: Toni Tennille, 75; Don Rickles, 89, and Carol Carroll, ageless and priceless.