How to get a governor to dance

The Baltimore Sun

Barack Obama gave the nation's governors a stimulus they couldn't resist: Earth Wind & Fire.

The R&B; act, entertaining the National Governors Association on Sunday after Obama's first formal White House dinner, had even the stodgiest state executives asserting: Yes, we can dance.

"The day before ... we were wondering who the music was going to be," Maryland first lady Katie O'Malley said.

"And when they said 'Earth Wind & Fire,' I said, 'Oh my God. We're not going to be able to sit at our tables.' "

Her suspicions were confirmed upon entering the East Room after dinner.

"There were no tables," said O'Malley, a District Court judge.

(The Washington Post reports that there were actually six small tables around the room, but we'll let the talking heads duke that one out on TV. The real point: There was a dance floor.)

"Yes!" O'Malley said to herself. "We're going to dance."

O'Malley's governor-husband leads an Irish rock band in his spare time. That doesn't mean Martin O'Malley is much of a dancer. Judge O'Malley assured me he is not. But they danced anyway.

"You couldn't help it," Katie O'Malley said. "You had to."

Last year, President George W. Bush treated the governors to an after-dinner concert by Amy Grant. Katie O'Malley said that was "really, really lovely, but just a completely different vibe."

A home out of a storm

The man who spent 12 years as Baltimore's mayor lives these days on waterfront property just outside the Annapolis city limits.

Kurt Schmoke did not wake up one day and say, "I'm outta here."

It took the force of Tropical Storm Isabel and the election of 2008 to turn Schmoke and his wife into full-fledged Annapolitans.

"We've had the place for many years," he said. "My wife's grandparents had a home down there. As a little girl, she went down and visited.

" 'One day, I hope to have my own place down there,' " Schmoke recalled his wife saying. "So she spotted a piece of land that had a not very attractive residence on it. We acquired it, and I think my wife was the only person who was happy to see a hurricane, because Isabel wiped out the original house."

The couple eventually built "a beautiful home" on the spot but kept their house in Ashburton.

"We were debating what would be the primary residence," he said.

"We just decided we're going to make this move, and we've become residents of Anne Arundel County."

He and his wife still own the place in Ashburton, but his mother lives there now.

Schmoke noted that his wife, an eye doctor, still has her practice in Baltimore. Is the commute any better for him? Schmoke is dean of Howard University Law School these days.

"As the crow flies, it's shorter," he said. "But the traffic patterns are such that, no, it's not any shorter."

Not in this fight

Former Mayor Schmoke was part of the legal team that helped Rod Blagojevich's choice for the Senate actually get the job.

Roland Burris could still use a good lawyer, now that Illinois' junior senator has been accused of misrepresenting his contacts with associates of the now-deposed governor.

While I had Schmoke on the phone, I asked: Does he still represent Burris, a friend and Howard Law grad?

"I haven't been asked by him to assist him in his current situation," Schmoke said.

Schmoke is playing a role in a legal-political thriller closer to home. Schmoke represents Howard Dixon and Bobby Potts, two "special assistants" to Sheila Dixon who are potential witnesses in the state prosecutor's investigation of the mayor.

Connect the dots

If you didn't come away from Sunday's column thinking that Ed Norris and on-air sidekick Maynard are promoting Medifast because it's working for them, let me say it again: Both WHFS radio personalities have lost weight on the plan. There's another guy out there - a guy with a financial interest in depressing Medifast's stock price - who claims the company's direct-sales division is a Ponzi scheme. All Norris and Maynard know is they're down 20-plus pounds. ... The South Carolina sheriff who investigated Michael Phelps' bong use dolled himself up the other day in a bullet-proof vest, three medals and a blond wig with pigtails. Speaking before a local Rotary club, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott poked fun at Newsweek for describing his hair as blond, The State newspaper reports. (In Newsweek's defense, his hair does look blond on his department's site. I called the office to ask what color it really is but did not get an immediate response.) At the Rotary Club, Lott spoke earnestly and at length about his decisions in the Phelps case and the dangers of drugs - wig atop his head all the while.

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