The mayor's full faith and confidence


March 15, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

What happens when your Partner in Progress starts looking like somebody else's Partner in Procurement Problems?

The Partner in Question is Sheila Dixon, the City Council president who would become Baltimore's next mayor if Martin O'Malley is elected governor.

City officials are looking into how Dixon's office hired her former campaign chairman's computer services company for $600,000, without a contract for the most part. They're also trying to determine if her sister's employer - kicked out of the city's minority subcontracting program because its office in Business Suites Harborplace (or is it Business Fronts Harborplace?) turned out to be nothing more than a phone and mailbox - did its share of work on a city contract.

Which brings us to the other half of the Progress partnership, O'Malley, who the other day danced around uncomfortable questions about a woman who is not just his political ally, but, he hopes, his successor.

Here's the exchange at Monday's news conference:

The Sun's Doug Donovan: Are you confident that, if you become governor, that she would be capable of being mayor without this happening on a larger scale?

O'Malley: Doug, there are so many things that we are doing better as a city. There are so many systems that we have in place that are allowing our city to come back stronger, and allow the city to complete its work, the measurement of outcomes. I think our city is in a much healthier and better condition and, um, and um, you know, I think that Council President Dixon has seen that improvement and I think she understands the reasons for it. And I think we continue with the progress and the performance measurement we have in place. Notwithstanding, I need to go back and review this particular contract and the work under it and see if we could tighten up here.

Donovan: But if you were to win, would you be confident that you could tell city voters that she has your trust to become mayor?

O'Malley: Well, she has all of our trusts, doesn't she? She was elected council president and would certainly by charter move up for that one year before there's an election [italics added].

Donovan: Do you trust her?

O'Malley: I do.

Sounds like a ringing endorsement.

A little something next to the cabbage

Is it worth going to Hell for a taste of corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day? Luckily, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore won't have to wrestle with that one. Cardinal William Keeler has granted his flock a special dispensation to eat meat this Friday.

And that's any meat, says archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine. So if pickled cow isn't your thing, Catholics may, in good conscience, bite into a burger or pork chop. All Keeler asks is that people who decide to eat meat that day "find some other sort of suitable response, adding a prayer to that day or looking for something else to give up," Caine said.

How about green beer?

Soaking wet, and your hair's too long

In a TV ad - said to be the first in the Maryland Senate race - Allan Lichtman tries to show he's an unconventional candidate by jumping into the C&O Canal wearing a jacket and tie.

But the real proof that the American University professor isn't your average Senate hopeful is on his Web site (, which offers uncensored postings about the ad.

There's the thumbs-up variety you'd expect the candidate to share: "I love this ad - it's so refreshing to see someone who takes the issues so seriously also be able to not take himself too seriously."

The mixed review: "Great creative and funny idea. The only problem I see is when you say there is little [government meeting our needs] you hold your hands pretty wide."

And thumbs down: "Lacks gravitas ... Also, you need a haircut."

Things that go bump in the night

State Sen. E.J. Pipkin says he was driving down Route 8 on Kent Island Saturday night when, "Wham! Big explosion. I didn't know if it was a bullet or a pellet or something else."

It was probably an apolitical beer bottle thrown at Pipkin's truck, the Queen Anne's County sheriff's department tells the Annapolis Capital. But Pipkin, who wasn't hurt, tells me he's still not sure.

Anybody know whether Dick Cheney was on the Eastern Shore last weekend?

$6 million in easy monthly payments

Pipkin's waterfront estate in Stevensville, which went on the market last summer, is still for sale for about $6 million. Listing agent Barry Waterman says he had a contract on it, but it fell through. Adds Waterman, who apparently has no idea how little money there is in journalism: "If you'd like it, we'd be happy to make it happen for you."

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