This Santa deserves a lump of coal

The Baltimore Sun

Worse than finding out there's no Santa Claus: Finding out the developer who played Santa for Sheila Dixon deserves coal in his stocking for lying.

Patrick Turner was unmasked this week as the mysterious Developer B, who one Christmas season bought a whole bunch of gift cards that prosecutors say Dixon mostly spent on herself.

Asked back in January if he was Developer B, Turner told The Baltimore Sun's Annie Linskey that he'd never been "B" at anything. When Linskey pressed him, Turner said, all kidding aside, he wasn't the guy.

Well, Turner's report card is in, thanks to papers prosecutors filed in the case this week, and he gets an F in truthfulness.

Turner has not been charged with any crime. Dixon's indictment does not say whether the developer thought the then-City Council president was hitting him up for a bribe or a legitimate charitable donation.

It does suggest that Turner, who at the time was trying to win city approval for his Silo Point condo project, was eager to please Dixon. She asked him to buy cards for "needy families" at 11:04 a.m. on Dec. 13, 2005, the indictment states. Within two hours, he'd dropped $1,000 at Best Buy and Target.

So what does Developer B have to say for himself? Turner did not return a call seeking comment.

Spokeswoman Deb Kleiner said this much about his previous denial: "Pat just feels very strongly that it's a legal matter, and he just doesn't feel comfortable talking about it when it's still in process."

Which is why, maybe, Turner should have given Linskey a "no comment" instead of a smart-alecky lie.

And what about the gift cards? Did Turner think Dixon was shaking him down or just asking him to do a good deed?

"I" - long pause - "I can't really give you an answer," Kleiner said. She said she'd check with Turner and get back to me. I never heard back.

Turner's lawyer, at least, was prepared to vouch for his client's good intentions.

"He's simply a guy who was asked to give a contribution to whatever charity it was," said attorney Gerard Martin. "Beyond buying the cards, he doesn't know what happened to them. That's what he told the grand jury, and that's the truth."

We'd expect nothing less from him.

Where's the dog?

My colleague Frank Roylance passed a fender-bender on the JFX near Reservoir Hill last week, and he's still wondering: What happened to the little dog that hopped out of one of the cars?

"Evidently ... someone got out of one of the cars to exchange information, and their pocket-sized dog escapes and takes off running," Roylance said. "Soon, at least a half-dozen people are out of their cars, some chasing after the dog, who is southbound in the northbound lanes, hell-bent for leather. He's weaving across all three traffic lanes, full-tilt boogie, with sprinting humans close behind. They scramble among the stopped and slowed cars in all three traffic lanes. Somebody pulls their car into the breakdown lane and joins the chase - in reverse."

Eventually, traffic started moving, and Roylance went on his way.

"But I can't help wonder what became of the dog, and his pursuers."

Somebody out there knows the end the story. Fill me in.

Show us your badge

Just a few years ago, New Yorkers invaded the Baltimore Police Department, and it became dangerous for cops to dis their Big Apple rivals. That era is officially over.

Last week, at a mock murder trial designed to teach teens about the criminal justice system, 16-year-old Eric Hill played the role of a police officer taking the witness stand.

In Baltimore, noncops aren't allowed to wear city police uniforms, so public defender Marie Sennett dressed him in an NYPD shirt, The Baltimore Sun's Peter Hermann reports.

"We don't want him to be charged with impersonating an officer," Sennett said.

Commissioner Fred Bealefeld III shot back: "He still is if he's from New York."

Don't buy beachfront

Michael Steele, the guest host on Bill Bennett's radio show earlier this month, offered his theory of global cooling.

"We are cooling," he said. "We are not warming. The warming you see out there, the supposed warming, and I am using my finger quotation marks here, is part of the cooling process. Greenland, which is now covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right?"

Yes, there was a reason, a reason that a guy who ran for Senate with fake Kweisi Mfume endorsement fliers should understand: deceptive marketing.

As the Huffington Post notes, it's commonly believed that Greenland got its name from Erik the Red, who'd been banished to Greenland in 982 and wanted to lure other settlers there.

So Steele fell for Erik's ancient con. There's a sucker born every millennium.

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