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Laura Vozzella: Swearing-in promises to be intimate affair

Regional AuthoritySheila DixonValuesEthics

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's swearing-in will be less ice-sculpture-bedecked "Jewels of Baltimore" and more LBJ on Air Force One. A stricken-looking Sheila Dixon might stand by in a pink suit, if only she were invited.

Dixon shouldn't feel slighted. Other former mayors, the governor and members of the state's congressional delegation didn't get invites either. Space is so tight in the spot chosen for the event - they're using the mayor's ceremonial room on the second floor of City Hall instead of the cavernous War Memorial Building - that hardly anyone made the cut.

Members of the City Council, City Comptroller Joan Pratt and Circuit Court Clerk FrankConaway are the only public officials invited. Rawlings-Blake's relatives and the news media will get in the door, but that's it. Even Cabinet members can't go.

No skating rink? No ball? No raid on the needy-kids fund that helped bankroll Dixon's inaugural extravaganza? Today's event will be beyond low-key. The press advisory for the swearing-in all but grumbles that the city charter is making them do it: "This legal[ly required] event will last no longer than 10 minutes."

Once our long municipal nightmare is over, the new mayor will want to clean house. But some Dixon administration hands should have a place in an SRB regime. Among them:

•Beatrice "Keep it under $5,000" Tripps should become SRB's director of CitiStat. Dixon's chief of staff came up with a clever way to keep a no-bid contract with Dixon's former campaign chairman under the radar. Imagine what she could do for homicide numbers.

•Howard "I ain't want to know" Dixon could serve as SRB's personal banker. This former city cop and Dixon aide, who told a grand jury he laundered $4,000 in cash for Dixon, is a busy mayor's best friend. Who has time to deposit all those wads of cash when there's a city to run?

•George "Three degrees from Yale" Nilson should be SRB's spokesman. Dixon's city solicitor opined that the term "person doing business with the city" - the sort who isn't supposed to be showering lavish gifts on government officials - does not apply to the owners of companies doing business with the city. Top-quality spin like that ought to be out in front of the TV cameras, not off in some dusty law library.

•Janice "Will work for brood" Dixon gets my nod for Ethics Board chairwoman. Mayor Dixon's sister played a starring role in the mayor's ethics woes, so she's uniquely positioned to go after the bad guys, from the spoilsports who cracked down on City Hall nepotism to the meanies at Comcast who underutilized a perfectly good minority subcontractor that pretended to do electrical work.

•Sheila "I buy quality" Dixon should be city purchasing director. She likes to shop. And she can drive a hard bargain, having gotten her prosecutor to essentially give up a conviction and let her walk away with an $83,000-a-year lifetime pension. Dixon can't take a paid city job until her probationary period is up, but she could work for free to fulfill her community service stint.

Connect the dots ...Jack Young isn't even City Council president yet, but already he's called Jayne Miller "sweetie" and walked away from the WBAL-TV reporter in the middle of an interview. And you thought the post-Dixon era would be dull! Before Young gets grilled again on his residency, he ought to consult Councilwoman Rikki Spector, D-HarborView. As for the "sweetie" bit, Miller said: "I've been called worse." ... Mayor Dixon has been mum about her post-mayoral plans, but with time on her hands, she might want to check out an art exhibit at the North Avenue pizzeria Joe Squared. "Framed: Portraits of the Hon. Sheila Ann Dixon" runs through Feb. 23. The show opened Tuesday with a mix of flattering and unflattering images of Dixon created by a handful of local artists. Now Joe Squared is calling on more people, artists and amateurs alike, to submit portraits. Said restaurateur Joe Edwardsen: "This is a tribute to a fallen mayor." ... Mayor Dixon promised us cleaner, greener. She was too short on clean and too long on ill-gotten green. Let that be a lesson to SRB: Choose your municipal slogan carefully. The incoming mayor seemed to be trying one out in a news release announcing her new chief of staff. (The appointment, incidentally, proved puppet-regime conspiracy theorists wrong since the chief is not Peter O'Malley.) "Ms. [Sophie] Dagenais ... will help my administration make Baltimore better, safer, and stronger." A little derivative, but you can't argue with the sentiment.

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