Mayor Dixon doesn't take snubs quietly

The Baltimore Sun

Even wrapped in fur, Sheila Dixon doesn't like being left out in the cold.

In an interview that aired on WJZ-TV this week, the mayor said she was disappointed that she didn't get a shout-out from Barack Obama, Elijah Cummings or Martin O'Malley during the president-elect's whistle-stop in Baltimore.

Obama came to town three days before his inauguration - and, as luck would have it, eight days after Dixon's indictment. "Was I bothered by it? Yes," Dixon told WJZ's Adam May. "Others noticed it and were upset that not even he or the governor or Congressman Cummings mentioned my name. I'm human. That was a lonely part."

And that was before Dixon got uninvited to today's U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering with Obama at the White House, as The Baltimore Sun's Annie Linskey reports today.

What do the alleged snubbers have to say for themselves?

"The congressman certainly didn't mean to make anyone feel lonely," said Cummings spokeswoman Jennifer Kohl. "His sole purpose was to introduce the president and vice president-elect, and those were the only people he introduced. And he didn't recognize anyone else. And the mayor, by the way, is still in his thoughts and prayers."

Said O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese: "It certainly wasn't intentional. The governor was just excited to be in the city of Baltimore with President-elect Obama and the citizens of Maryland. I would point out that, I'm not sure he recognized anybody aside from the vice president and President-elect Obama."

It was a bitterly cold day, and speakers kept it short. But Obama himself recognized the mayors of Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del., when he stopped in those cities earlier that day.

What says the Snubber-in-Chief?

The White House didn't respond to a request for comment.

Dixon wasn't totally ignored that day. On WBAL-TV, Deborah Weiner not only noted that Dixon was in the crowd but that the mayor just charged with accepting furs from a city contractor was dressed in, you guessed it, fur.

If Dixon didn't appreciate that shout-out, perhaps her defense attorney did. I asked Arnold Weiner if he took pride in his newswoman-daughter's attention to that particular detail. He said he'd been out of town that day and missed the broadcast.

Those other guys

In the same TV interview, Mayor Dixon said she has outshined the last two mayors. "In the past two years, I've done more than my predecessors have in 12 or seven years," Dixon said, referring to the tenures of Kurt Schmoke and now-Governor O'Malley.

There's a case to be made for the mayor who's delivered a huge dip in homicides, single-stream recycling and the most amusing Maryland political scandal since Bootsie Mandel holed herself up in Government House.

But isn't that comment a tad impolitic?

Dixon spokesman Scott Peterson said she was just promoting her record, as any good politician would do, not knocking her mayoral forebears. "That's a campaign statement," he said. "I think Governor O'Malley has every right to say he's accomplished more than his predecessor. Why wouldn't you say that?"

If O'Malley says stuff like that about Bob Ehrlich - and he does, so often that he's been called a sore winner - he's taking a swipe at a Republican rival. Dixon is talking about fellow Dems, one of them her so-called Partner in Progress.

This isn't the only internecine jab Dixon has made at O'Malley. (See "Snub, Obama whistle-stop.")

Dixon got another dig in at a meeting this month with the city's Annapolis delegation, The Baltimore Sun's Julie Bykowicz reports. Making the case that Baltimore mayors should have the right to hire and fire their own police commissioners, Dixon said, "Schmoke hired his. And O'Malley hired his several."

Laughs all around, except, presumably, in O'Malleyland.

Trouble in Democratic paradise?

"There's no conflict here," Peterson said. "There's no ill will between the mayor and the governor, nothing."

How's all this going over with the gov?

"The governor has always had a great partnership with now-Mayor Dixon and will continue to work with her on behalf of the citizens of Baltimore," O'Malley spokesman Abbruzzese said. "Working together in the city of Baltimore, Mayor O'Malley and Council President Dixon were successful in reducing violent crime by 40 percent. They had a very successful year last year, so that progress continues."

What does Schmoke have to say?

"No names were mentioned, but the numbers seem to fit some individuals we know," Schmoke said with a laugh.

"I think she's been a good mayor," he said. "I think she's done a good job, and it's likely some future mayor's going to say the same thing about his or her predecessors. We all serve at different times, with different challenges. I think for the time, she's been doing a good job."

If Dixon is really tops in the recent mayoral pantheon, who's better situated (and sufficiently impolitic) to say so than William Donald Schaefer? (He served 16 years, so Dixon didn't diss him .)

I asked: Is Dixon a better mayor than O'Malley and Schmoke?

"Oh, I'd never comment on that," Schaefer said. "I think they're both fine guys."

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