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At City Hall, there's wiggle room to go around

Everyone at City Hall claims to be back to work after that pesky corruption trial. And what a relief! For a minute there, it looked like it wouldn't be business as usual.

Shortly after 12 jurors decided someone smart enough to run a city couldn't confuse $1,000 in gift cards with a long-dead flower arrangement, one of Mayor Sheila Dixon's staunchest backers seemed to bail.

"I don't think she can continue to be mayor," Councilwoman RikkiSpector told reporters Tuesday.

Spector came to her senses the next day and said she hopes the mayor will stay in office.

Spector was in the middle of a judiciary committee work session Tuesday when someone passed a note saying the mayor had been convicted. The next thing she knew, reporters were asking for comments and Spector was stating what she thought was the obvious.

"When it [the note] said 'guilty,' that just came off the top of my head - she would have to step down," Spector told me Wednesday. "But it looks like there's wiggle room there."

From whence came the wiggle? An e-mail issued from City Solicitor GeorgeNilson: "The jury's verdict today does not impact the Mayor's responsibility to continue serving as Mayor of the City of Baltimore at this time."

There's an ominous ring to that "at this time" business, but Dixon's lawyers are expected to argue that she can stay, if only because she was convicted of a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

Spector had her own solution: "I think Shakespeare said, 'First, you get rid of all the lawyers.' "

The Bard actually wrote "kill all the lawyers," but maybe Spector thinks Baltimore has had enough crime.

Jockeying has begun for the position of City Council president, just in case Dixon is ousted and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake ascends to the mayor's office. Council members would elect her replacement.

Spector said Councilman Jack Young approached her Tuesday.

"Jack said, 'I always wanted to be president,' " she said.

Young could not be reached for comment.

Ron Lipscomb is in court after all.

The most anticipated no-show witness in the Dixon trial is being sued by the mayor and City Council over a tax issue. The city sued in September, back when Lipscomb was still expected to testify against the mayor, whom he'd dated and showered with gifts, and whose votes helped him to receive millions in tax breaks.

Lipscomb's Doracon Contracting had forfeited its corporate charter in October 2008, but Lipscomb continued doing business under that name, the lawsuit states. Just last week, while Dixon's jury was out, the city filed a "grand total judgment sheet" calculating what it figured Lipscomb owes in personal property taxes: $50,846.03.

Adding insult: The sheet misspelled Lipscomb's name as "Lopscomb."

Is this the work of a lover scorned, if not yet snitched? (Lipscomb could still testify in the mayor's second trial.)

Lipscomb could not be reached for comment. Gerard Martin, Lipscomb's criminal lawyer, said he was unaware of the suit but thought it was a "routine" matter. "Lots of companies forget" to renew their corporate charters, he said. Martin guessed that only came to the city's attention because of Lipscomb's involvement in the Dixon case.

"Everybody wants to pile on," he said.

Just because we still have Mayor Dixon to kick around doesn't mean the Twittersphere hasn't moved on. Within two hours of the mayor's conviction, someone had created RawlingsFake on Twitter.

Like the Dixon spoofs, it'ssprinkled with "insider" tidbits. Instead of Deputy Mayor Andy Frank reheating Indian leftovers in the mayoral microwave, we have references the aroma of ouzo, a nod to the Greek heritage of Rawlings-Blake's deputy chief of staff, Kaliope Parthemos.

One sample:

"Would it be too much to ask taxpayers for a life size ice sculpture of Robert Rohrbaugh at my Inaugural Celebration Outdoor Smoothie Garden?"

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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