The three most powerful women in city government talked smack about each other in the sweltering heat yesterday at a noontime news conference designed to drum up support for a 5-kilometer charity run.
The gimmick: The women challenged each other's offices to a three-way competition in the race.
Rawlings-Blake noted that in past years, the run, an annual event that commemorates the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, raised enough money for the Baltimore Police Department to purchase a drug-sniffing dog named Sabian.
Police trotted out the dog, a German shepherd that snarled, salivated and chewed on a red toy. The canine stayed off to the side with his trainer, Officer Kurt Snyder. "Keep him over there," the City Council president said.
Up next at the podium was Dixon, a workout devotee. "I'm not a competitive person," the mayor said. "I just try to stay focused." Then, departing from prepared remarks, she turned to the City Council president and said: "She can ride a bike, and I'll run and I'm still going to beat her."
State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, the city's top prosecutor, said she wasn't so sure she'd want to compete head-on with the mayor. "Had this challenge come from the mayor, I would have turned it down," she said. "But the challenge from Stephanie Rawlings-Blake put it in a different light."
Jessamy noted that she'd rely heavily on her staff for the run. "Not being a person who is the most athletic, I turn to those in our office who are."
But she added: "The state's attorney's office expects to win. We enter any challenge expecting to win."
The offices will compete against each other in the race set for Sept. 11 for the fastest time, highest percentage of participants and most participants.
Dixon noted that her office includes all city employees and she felt secure that she'd win in that area.
Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III and Fire Chief Jim Clack tried to sidestep the competition among the three women. "It is a community event," Bealefeld said. "We're challenging neighborhoods to participate in the run."
The fire chief said his department would have a more modest role. "We'll be helping out the people who overexert themselves because they are so competitive," he said.
At the end all three women stood together at a podium for photographers, and Rawlings-Blake, apparently overcoming her fear, called over the police dog for the pictures. The mayor smiled and patted the dog, stroking his thick coat.