Sheila Dixon — making women look bad all over again

Sheila, Sheila, Sheila ...

Girlfriend? You are making us look bad.

Ms. Dixon, who resigned as mayor of Baltimore in a plea deal that required her to make $45,000 in donations to charity, is behind — way behind — in her payments, and she's in danger of a probation violation that could cost her a $83,000-a-year pension and perhaps even send her to jail.

That would pretty much scuttle her undisguised ambition to return to City Hall.

If it is true that a woman has to be twice as good as a man to succeed, it is also true that she has to be twice as clean, and Ms. Dixon was anything but.

She was convicted of pocketing $500 in gift cards intended for the poor, but that's hardly the end of her misdeeds. She took a boatload of gifts from her developer boyfriend while handing out tax breaks for his projects. She paid her campaign manager hundreds of thousands of dollars to work for the City Council, all without a contract, and she tried to steer city business to a sham minority-owned firm that employed her sister.

Defense attorney Arnold Weiner got her a deal so sweet it would make your teeth ache, and she could be eligible to run for mayor in 2015.

And now it looks like she might blow it by going all deadbeat on us.

After making a $5,000 and a $10,000 payment in the year after her January 2010 resignation, she's made only $4,000 in payments since, including $1,000 in January of this year and $1,000 in October. According to a state corrections filing last week, she is $13,640 behind.

We can't see inside Ms. Dixon's checkbook, and she isn't offering any explanations. "Nobody knows my situation," Ms. Dixon told The Sun last week. "I'm trying to do the best that I can do. This is a setback. I'm not enjoying it."

I admit, if somebody dropped a $45,000 bill on me at 17 percent interest and added $1,000 to my monthly expenses, I'd about choke.

But not Ms. Dixon, her attorney assured us. It wouldn't be a problem for the woman found guilty of taking gift cards meant for poor families, because she'd been donating to charity at that "same rate throughout her adult life." Sounds sort of like robbing Peter to pay Paul, if you ask me. But whatever.

Women handle the books in most families, whether they are single mothers like Ms. Dixon or not. And most have the strength and the dignity to pay the bills, or the resourcefulness to negotiate for more time or smaller payments.

What did she think would happen if she stopped paying? That nobody would notice? Oh. Wait. She goes, like, a year between payments — twice — before anybody says anything.

But this isn't like a mortgage that's underwater. You can't just stop paying, walk away and start over. Not if you expect to stay out of jail, much less run for office.

I especially hate it when stuff like this happens to women; we finally earn positions of power, prestige and authority and then demonstrate that we are not only as corrupt as men, but we are too dumb to cover our tracks. It just reinforces unfair stereotypes about our incompetence.

Politicians as a group don't think the rules apply to them, and their sense of entitlement is enormous. The former mayor was still sending bills for hair and makeup appointments to the city after she resigned, for heaven's sake.

In that way, at least, Sheila Dixon is the equal of any man.

Susan Reimer's column appears Mondays and Thursdays. She can be reached at and @Susan Reimer on Twitter.

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