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SNEED: Exclusive: Paul Vallas to leave CSU in another sign he may run for mayor

The former CEO of Chicago Public Schools said last week he planned to leave the job months early to consider a challenge to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. | Maria Cardona/Sun-Times

Paul Vallas continues to set the stage for a run against a formidable Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Vallas, who was appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner to help restart a financially beleaguered Chicago State University, tells Sneed he plans to step down from that job soon — a clear reminder of what he has done politically in the past: not hold a public job while running for public office.

“My job is done,” said Vallas. “Although my contract ran until July 1, I now plan to leave March 31,” he said while also repeating an earlier report by Crain’s Chicago Business columnist Greg Hinz he was “seriously considering” running for mayor.

Trust me: The decision by Vallas to leave early is a huge indication he hopes to run for mayor.

“He has always been reluctant to hold a public job while running for public office,” said a top source. Vallas resigned as head of the Chicago Public Schools before his announcement to run for governor against Rod Blagojevich.

“We have found a terrific replacement for my job at Chicago State University,” said Vallas, who has operated as the historic Far South Side institution’s chief administrative officer since last April.

“My replacement is going to be Simone Edwards, who has outstanding credentials, is terrific and from Northwestern University,” he said. “She will be Chicago State University’s new vice president of finance.”

OPINION

Earlier Thursday, State Rep. Marcus C. Evans Jr., who represents the state’s 33rd district, told Sneed he had dispatched a letter to the financially strapped Chicago State University asking if the school is getting enough bang for their buck regarding the $200,000 salary they pay Vallas.

“To date, the only things we have seen or heard out of Mr. Vallas is that he has purchased a new home in the Lincoln Park community, many miles away from the school that pays his high salary, and that he may already have one foot out the door to pursue his personal political ambitions,” Evans wrote. He told Sneed he dispatched the letter early Thursday to CSU Interim President Rachel Lindsey.

“If he [Vallas] merely wants a springboard from which to pursue his political aspirations, he owes Chicago State’s beleaguered students and faculty answers.

“How is paying Mr. Vallas $200,000 a year in the best interest of a community institution with  limited resources?” Evans said.

“Beyond my personal passion for Chicago State University, as a legislator, I have a duty to ensure that taxpayer funding for any university is spent responsibly and is used to elevate students’ success,” said Evans — although he does not represent the 34th district, where the university is located.

“This university has been a beacon of academic light on the Far South Side of Chicago for nearly 150 years, and I hope that collectively we will continue to do all we can to lay the foundation towards another 150 years.”

Vallas responded: “As for my work, it is well-documented as I provide the board of trustees with regular detailed reports on all chief administrative officer projects.

“The reports and support materials are publicly available. I document everything.”

Close to home . . .

Omigosh. Glen Selig, the promoter who handled publicity stunts for then accused murderer Drew Peterson and fed target Rod Blagojevich — when they needed fast cash and better public personas — was one of 22 people killed in a Taliban attack at a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Trump stump . . . 

First lady Melania Trump was flying solo again Thursday.

No hubby at her side during a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C.; her arrival only noted by a tweet by her press secretary after she was gone; no announcement of Melania’s flight Thursday afternoon to their estate at Mar-a Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.

• Translation: It was her first appearance since porn star Stormy Daniels was quoted discussing her alleged affair a decade ago with President Donald Trump shortly after Melania gave birth to their son.

Sneedlings . . .

Mayor Rahm Emanuel seems as gung-ho as late Mayor Jane “The Blues Brothers” Byrne when it comes to filming in Chicago. Stat chat: The Chicago Film Office, which is part of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, issued a total of 2,127 permits for 580 film and media projects last year. . . . Today’s birthdays: Ellen DeGeneres, 60; Wayne Gretzky, 57; and Eddie Van Halen, 63.