Mayor-to-be's a mite lawyerly in Dixon comments

Baltimore Sun

Good thing the verdict in Sheila Dixon's case "speaks for itself," as Stephanie Rawlings-Blake put it the other day. Dixon's fellow Dems haven't said boo on the topic.

At a meeting with The Baltimore Sun's editorial board this week, Rawlings-Blake was asked about the mayor's behavior.

"I think it's pretty obvious," she said. "A jury of her peers felt strongly that she acted outside the law. That speaks for itself."

Rawlings-Blake's response elicited a cheer from The Sun's editorial page, which credited her for being "clearer than just about any elected Democrat in the state in condemning the actions that led to Mayor Dixon's resignation."

I guess compared with other Maryland Dems, who haven't so much as tsk-tsked the mayor, Rawlings-Blake's comment qualifies as a profile in courage. But, c'mon! Dixon pocketed cash, lavish gifts and travel from a developer who received millions in city tax breaks. She perjured herself. She took gift cards from the poor.

Clearly Rawlings-Blake couldn't rail against Dixon before her resignation without looking self-serving. To do so now might seem to be kicking Dixon when she's down. Rawlings-Blake has to be careful about what she says for fear of alienating Dixon supporters. But there is careful and then there is Clintonesque.

First, Rawlings-Blake puts it on the jury. Then, she can't even bear to say the jury found Dixon guilty of a crime. Maybe that "outside the law" euphemism came in handy as a public defender, but it sounds awfully lawyerly from a near-mayor.

She struck a similar note last week at her first news conference as mayor-designate.

"Good people may have honest disagreements about the reasons Baltimore and our people came to be in this very difficult circumstances," Rawlings-Blake said.

Really? Hold the plea deal! Maybe there's more wiggle room in city ethics law than even Arnold Weiner imagined.

The men in their livesBehind every deposed mayor, there's a man, Mayor Dixon seems to suggest, as she blames her downfall on a gift-bearing ex-boyfriend.

But incoming Mayor Rawlings-Blake not only credits a man for her success, but has done so with the grandeur of an official City Council resolution.

In December 2007, as Rawlings-Blake assumed the office of City Council president, the council adopted a resolution titled, "In appreciation of Kent Blake."

"WHEREAS, Kent Blake has been a reassuring and understanding spouse to Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for the past 7 years of their marriage and throughout the course of her career in elective office," it begins.

I'm told Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke gave Rawlings-Blake the idea, having done something similar for her hubby when she was council president to acknowledge the sacrifices he'd made as the spouse of an elected official.

No Comcast of interestIn a profile of the future mayor the other day, The Sun reported that Rawlings-Blake's husband works for Comcast.

Say it ain't so! The departing mayor was blind to conflicts of interest. Don't tell me her replacement will have a conflict with the cable giant, which has a habit of hiring people in and around power. (Think Kendel Ehrlich, Tommy Bromwell's sons and Mike Miller's daughter - not to mention the late City Councilman Ken Harris, who was hired shortly after he joined the council and lost his job after his failed bid for council president.)

If there was a conflict of interest there, it's gone now. Blake left the company about a year ago, after working there for about a year and a half, a company spokeswoman told me. He currently works as assistant to a Century 21 real estate broker, Rawlings-Blake's office said.

Connect the dots ...Judges routinely tell jurors not to look at newspapers or discuss the trial they're on with anyone. Apparently inspired by the Dixon trial, Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Paul Hackner expanded the usual warning, The Sun's Andrea Siegel reports. Hackner told jurors completing their first day on a rape case Wednesday: "Don't establish a friends network with each other until this case is over."... I like how convicted Mayor Dixon and indicted City Councilwoman Helen Holton were among the first passengers this week on the Charm City Circulator. Fitting that those two were looking for a free ride.

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