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BELIEVE whatever you like

The Baltimore Sun

Story going around Maryland political circles:

Guy's sitting at a red light at President and Lombard when police lights in the black SUV behind him start flashing. He thinks the cop's trying to get by, so he moves over a bit. Next thing he knows, the cop's rapping on his window and telling him to get out of the car.

"What'd I do?" he asks.

"The mayor wants to talk to you."

So the guy - Greg Massoni, a spokesman for former Gov. Bob Ehrlich - walks over to the SUV. The back window comes down, and it's Sheila Dixon, who chews him out for a bumper sticker on the back of his Expedition. It reads: "Don't BELIEVE O'Malley." Dixon, who doesn't seem to recognize Massoni, tells him it's "disgraceful."

Massoni gives Dixon a piece of his mind, and they all go their separate ways.

All of this is said to have happened way back in November, the day after the mayoral election. But the story is still making the rounds, and it made its way to me this week.

"I can confirm, yes, the incident did happen," Massoni said when I approached him about it. And why wasn't he screaming from the rooftops back then? "It's gonna be 'He said, she said.' " Massoni said he was willing to confirm the story now since it's out there, but that's all he'd say.

"She has enough troubles," Massoni said.

I bounced all that off Dixon spokesman Sterling Clifford. His response: "Greg Massoni spent four years telling lies about the mayor of Baltimore. Must be a hard habit to break."

So there's nothing to it?

"It did not happen," Clifford said.

I went back to Massoni, who stuck by his story. "They know what happened."

Wish we all did.

Looks too good to be Dorian Gray

Can anybody out there identify the guy Linda Kiefer Sanders found in a portrait stashed in her parents' Catonsville attic?

Sanders, of San Diego, came across an oil painting about a week ago while cleaning out 60 years' worth of stuff from the Rolling Road home. Painted in 1955 by local portrait artist Grace Parker Hobbs, it shows a gray-haired man in a suit.

Sanders' parents, Dick and Susannah Kiefer, are dead, as is the artist, so she can't ask them.

"He's quite distinguished-looking," Sanders said. "I'd love to claim him as dear old Uncle Arthur, but don't think that would be kosher. It's such a cool picture, I don't want to just put it out, and I don't want to truck it back to San Diego."

My guess: A Catonsville principal. (Susannah Kiefer was a teacher.) Or some obscure Watergate figure. (Dick Kiefer, who founded a downtown law firm, was a law school classmate of Richard Nixon at Duke University. They became friends, and Dick Kiefer even brought the future president to his parents' Catonsville home over the Fourth of July ixonweekend in 1935.)

If you've got more than a wild guess, send it on.

Connect the dots

In a letter to the editor Friday, Annapolis Alderwoman Julie Stankivic criticizes illegal immigrants. Among other things, she writes, they "often reside in overcrowded homes and cause great disturbance in the community in which they reside as they cling to their cultures even when it is at odds with our own." Hey, a pol's entitled to her opinion. But isn't that an odd stance for someone who has reportedly claimed to be a reincarnated Egyptian princess and who has posed for a portrait dressed as same? (Long white dress, wide decorative collar, scepter and hieroglyphics.) Or is clinging to past lives something else entirely? ... A great big guy in what looked like a diaper became a feature on Bolton Hill streets last week. The neighborhood must feel like it's hit the jackpot, since none other than the Maryland Lottery was at work, filming a commercial with a sumo wrestler. There was a penguin involved, too. Lottery spokeswoman Carole Everett wouldn't divulge any details, except to say that the spot will be part of a "feel-good campaign" that airs early next month. ... In my last column, I quoted someone who goes by Bubba on the Mayor Dixon affair. "If this were New York," he wrote, "The Daily News might say, 'Dix Nixes Bricks Fix.'" Another reader pointed out that the faux headline really has its roots in Variety. In 1935, the entertainment trade paper ran this headline atop an article about rural America's dislike for rural-themed movies: "Sticks Nix Hick Pix." The Daily News did play off that classic in May 2000, with "Hicks Nix Knicks Tix" and "Hicks' Knicks Tix Trick." ... Maybe Annapolis is more bipartisan than we thought. A spy reports seeing a white minivan with two bumper stickers, one promoting Martin O'Malley's old "BELIEVE" campaign, the other for John McCain.

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