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What happens in City Council stays in City Council

The Baltimore Sun

Somebody who wasn't giving her name called the other day with a tip too unbelievable to ignore: City Hall has a videotape of the old council meeting at which Sheila Dixon famously waved her shoe, but there's no shoe-waving to be seen. Just a bunch of Nixonesque gaps in the tape.

I went to City Hall, asked for the video from March 18, 1991, and saw lots of heated, racially charged debate about a redistricting plan but not a single piece of airborne footwear. No then-Councilwoman Dixon removing her shoe, waving it at white colleagues (including one alleged to have uttered a racial epithet) and saying, as The Sun reported at the time: "You've been running things for the last 20 years - now the shoe is on the other foot. See how you like it."

Who was working the public access camera that day, Rose Mary Woods?

Sadly, for the sake of City Hall intrigue, this does not appear to be a case of recent video editing on behalf of the woman who's now mayor.

An article at the time said cable television viewers missed "much of the good stuff" because then-President Mary Pat Clarke called a recess when the meeting erupted into a shouting match. During recesses, the camera is trained on the empty president's chair. Dixon's shoe - raised at Councilman Mike Curran's desk, Clarke recalls - was apparently out of view. And there was nothing to hear, because, contrary to council rules for unedited, gavel-to-gavel coverage, Clarke ordered the sound off "when things began heating up," The Sun reported.

My trip to City Hall did turn up some political scheming, however. When I asked to see the video, Ari Friedman of the Department of Legislative Reference said the 16-year-old tape had recently been in demand.

Who else had come to see it? Two Towson students. A Professor Davis had called to say they needed a copy for government class. Hmmm. Professor Davis of Towson. The school's online directory lists only one, a man, who teaches English.

Friedman said she left a number and when I called, someone named Antigone picked up. As in Antigone Davis, Keiffer Mitchell's campaign spokeswoman.

"We were looking at the tape in the normal course of opposition research," Davis said. "You go through their legislative record, quotes from the paper."

Then why misrepresent themselves at City Hall?

Davis said the two "students" really are Towson students who are interns on the campaign. She said they didn't want to volunteer their connection to Mitchell - a councilman who, it must be noted, has lost his day job and a council committee chairmanship since he started running for mayor - for fear that City Hall wouldn't cooperate.

The Dixon campaign seemed to take the opposition research in stride. Said campaign manager Martha McKenna: "If dredging up this issue is the best our opponents can do, it's going to be a great summer for Mayor Dixon."

If a reporter calls, hang up

From the press office of Gov. O'pen-and-Transparent:

"Dear Cabinet Secretaries,

"A handful of reporters are calling various departments, asking for the numbers that they have given to the Governor for budget reductions to fill the $200 million cut.

"We ARE NOT disclosing this information at this time. We will give it to reporters later, once the Governor has reviewed it all and made decisions. The information will be released directly from the Governor's office, not from agencies. Refer press questions DIRECTLY TO US."

O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said the governor has a right to review the cuts suggested by his secretaries before going public.

"It will be open and transparent once the cuts are made," he said.

It's 'too many notes,' not 'too many numbers'

Martin O'Malley tried to strike a note of musical kinship with Tudor Dominik Maican, one of Maryland's six Presidential Scholars, who stopped by the State House the other day to pick up citations and meet The Gov, The Sun's Andrew Green reports.

But as it turns out, strumming your guitar in an Irish bar doesn't mean you speak the same language as a guy who began playing piano at three, started composing at five and wrote a requiem in high school.

"It's a lot of math, isn't it, composing?" O'Malley said while posing for pictures with the student from Winston Churchill High School in Montgomery County.

"Uh, no, not really," Maican said.

Connect the dots

The July issue of Men's Journal has declared Michael Phelps "The Greatest Athlete of All Time." He might also be the greasiest, judging by the cover photo of the Olympian sporting a Speedo and what looks like a whole bottle of baby oil. ... Bad enough for the conventional media that broke the story on the O'Malley administration illegally firing a midlevel state employee for political reasons. But did the Internet upstart also have to come up with the best headline?: "O'Malley, O'Fired, O'Well." ... Councilwoman Rikki Spector, warming up the crowd at Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's campaign announcement, the day after 2b reported her more or less living with her out-of-district boyfriend: "Are there any men here in the 5th District? Please raise your hand and get in line."

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