Former mayor Dixon roasted for charity

Former Mayor Sheila Dixon listened intently, scribbling notes on a legal pad, just as she had in countless meetings. But the topics of conversation Thursday evening were not those that were discussed in City Hall — at least not to her face.

Dixon sat onstage at the Comedy Factory in Power Plant Live as radio hosts and comedians skewered her over the scandals that led to her resignation from the mayor's office two years ago. They ragged on the gift cards meant for the poor that she was convicted of stealing, and one even banged a shoe — a reference to her actions at a particularly heated City Council meeting.

"She did a lot for the city, I mean herself," said De'von Brown, a former City Council candidate.

Brown, a 21-year-old senior at Maryland Institute College of Art, unleashed some of the evening's most trenchant lines.

"God helps those who help themselves, and you certainly did that," he said.

Brown even took a shot at Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who was once a close friend and political ally of Dixon.

"What amazes me is how you were the nanny of the person who took your job," he said.

"Be nice," said Dixon, wagging a finger. Dixon was taking notes during the roast in preparation for her rebuttal.

Dixon said she agreed to the roast because a portion of the proceeds were intended to benefit a charity called God's Unconditional Redeeming Love, where she worked as part of her court-ordered community service.

"If you can't laugh at yourself and can't laugh at others, it's not healthy," she told reporters before the event.

About 100 people attended the event, including former city employees.

Dixon's feisty personality shone through in her brief remarks.

"Talk to the hand," she told reporters.

Dixon was found guilty in late 2009 of stealing about $500 in gift cards given to her by a developer who said he had intended them for the needy.

In January 2010, she agreed to a plea deal that allowed her to keep her $83,000 annual pension. Under the deal, she was required to resign from office, donate $45,000 to charity and complete 500 hours of community service to settle both the theft charge and a separate perjury charge.

The perjury charge, which did not come to trial, centered around gifts, including two fur coats, that were given to her by a Harbor East developer whom she had been dating. Dixon did not disclose the gifts on city ethics forms, prosecutors said.

The speakers at the roast included the host, Baltimore Sun sports columnist Peter Schmuck.

Radio personality Kirk McEwen spoke of seeing Dixon presiding over the mayor's box in M&T Bank Stadium, sitting in a chair "like a throne."

But he sounded hopeful about Dixon's chances for a political comeback.

"If you were a white man, you would still be the ... mayor," McEwen said. "You ain't nobody's dummy. A little community service ... America loves a comeback."