The elephant in the room

I'd like to take the opportunity of all those microphones that have been shoved in my face these past couple of days since my house was raided, and speak directly to you, the citizens of Baltimore.

You overwhelmingly voted me into office, and I am truly blessed to have your continued support. And let me also at this point give a shout-out to the City Council. How cool was that when Mary Pat called the raid "a home invasion" and told Rohrbaugh to back off. And how the council president stands by me, even though I admit it's kind of mean-girl of me to keep challenging her to a 5K as part of my whole cleaner-greener-healthier thing. But you know, SRB, I tease because I love.

So many of you have my back, so many of you have defended me all along, you really deserve more than the cooperatin'-fully, stayin'-focused routine that I've been giving you. So here's what I want to say about the state prosecutor's investigation ...

Oh, sorry, I must have fallen asleep there and started dreaming a little. It's a recurring dream that reporters tend to have, that a public official will, rather than evade, just speak out and address that big ol' elephant in the room.

The investigation of questionable contract-awarding practices during Mayor Sheila Dixon's days as City Council president has been hovering in the background for a couple of years now but came stomping into the fore this week when the state prosecutor's office raided her home in search of documents and who knows what else.

Since then, and, actually, throughout the entire course of the investigation, Dixon's lips have largely been zipped on the matter. Surely her lawyers have advised her to remain silent and avoid the risk of giving up anything that could later come back and bite her. And yet, whenever public officials say they can't comment because the investigation is still going on, I think: How convenient.

At what point does Dixon speak, and not just to reporters, but to the city that elected her?

So what I want to say is that I know a lot of you are reading all the stories and watching all the footage and wondering: Did I vote for the wrong person? Is she going to get indicted? Will she go to jail? I hear you, and I want to say I'm sorry - Dale, stop clutching your heart that way! - that you have to ask yourself those questions.

I'm sorry that there's been this huge distraction from the real work of the city. But as you can see, I'm still out there, cutting ribbons and launching festivals and, yes, approving more contracts. And the police are still out there, and the garbage is still being picked up, so, yeah, everything you elected me to do is still going on.

This investigation is about things that happened in the past, when I was City Council president. And perhaps I made some mistakes then- really, Kelberman, just take a deep breath! - or did things that I would do differently now ...

Like I said, I'm dreaming. Perhaps it's part of a politician's DNA not to admit mistakes, until absolutely, positively forced to. But just once, it would be nice to see an official acknowledge that they have given people reason for concern.

Instead, we get a lot of cries of "witch hunt" and "fishing expedition" - not to say that there haven't been times when prosecutors were overzealous or motivated by politics. But to make those charges without further backing them up is like trying to have it both ways.

Dixon has built up some good will during her time first as acting mayor and now as the actual mayor. People sense she cares about the city, that she doesn't seem to be using it as a launching pad for higher office, that she's made good picks for positions such as police commissioner and fire chief. A lot of Baltimoreans, of all races and both genders, are proud to have a black woman running the show.

As mayor, I'd like to think I'm off to a good start. But when I started out at City Hall, it was a much different place, and I felt I needed family and friends around me. I didn't think it was such a big deal, for example, to hire my sister as an assistant - good grief, when JFK was president, he hired his brother to be attorney general.

All I'm saying is officeholders tend to surround themselves with people they know and trust. Have you counted how many O'Malleys and Currans there are around here? Yeah, it's not quite the same - most, not all, of them got elected - and I did fire Janice to comply with the ethics rules. Can you imagine what the next Thanksgiving dinner was like at our house?

So now I'm going to explain why I voted to give that company she went on to work for, Utech, those contracts, and why Dale Clark did all that computer work at City Hall, and why Doracon ...

Darn, this is the part where I always wake up.


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