Good pay, but the city cars are lemons


December 22, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Who would have figured that Martin O'Malley's parting shot to Pat Jessamy would be a whopping $83,000 raise?

Not the state's attorney. She thought City Hall held her in low esteem, in part because she always got the klunker city cars.

For a while, it was a GMC Denali, seized from a drug dealer. Never mind that somebody broke into it in April - while a Baltimore cop was supposed to be sitting in it. The car was balky, refusing to start at times for no apparent reason, said Jessamy's spokeswoman, Margaret Burns.

While that one went to the shop, she got some old boat. Jessamy is foggy on the make and model, perhaps because the exhaust system was faulty, filling the cab with smoke. Jessamy had it checked out, and it failed emissions.

Next up: a two-tone 1995 Lincoln that Burns called a "pimpmobile." Burns said she was walking down Lexington Street one day and was startled to see "a boat of a car" pulling over, as if somebody inside that thing - somebody her boss might have prosecuted! - wanted a word with her. "Down rolls the window, and there she is. I said, `I can't BELIEVE this car, Mrs. Jessamy!"

"Don't make fun of this car," Jessamy scolded. "It has air conditioning, and the windows work."

At least the windows worked until earlier this month. One unseasonably warm December day, Jessamy rolled her window down. It got stuck there, and when the weather changed later that day, rain poured in on the city's top prosecutor.

The Denali just came back from the shop. It took more than six months, but city mechanics finally figured out the problem: an anti-theft device that periodically shut the car down.

"Nobody knew it existed," Burns said, "because it had been seized and the owner was in jail."

Hey, with that raise, who needs city wheels?

Said Burns: "She can buy her own car."

Last one to get the word

You'd think any boss willing to hand out a pay hike that huge would want to deliver the news personally. Call the gal into his office. Give her an "attagirl" along with the good news.

The one, reassuringly familiar aspect to the whole thing: The O'Malley-Jessamy relationship remains dysfunctional.

The state's attorney only heard about her raise after the fact - from a city councilwoman and a reporter.

Let's see, now, who might want that job?

Charm City conspiracy theorists can explain O'Malley's largess, even if Jessamy is said to still be "in shock."

Some have it that O'Malley wants to entice somebody else to run for Jessamy's job.

Others figure O'Malley wants to keep Jessamy happy in her post, so she won't challenge Sheila Dixon for mayor. (Hey, forget about the Utech votes. Didn't Dixon have a conflict on this one, since the raise could keep one of her rivals out of the mayor's race? Maybe that's why Joan Pratt abstained.)

Jessamy's office has come up with yet another theory, pointing to a September Examiner interview with District Court Judge Katie O'Malley.

The paper listed her "dream job": Baltimore City state's attorney.

Escape from L.A.

The room was full of bigger political stars: Maryland's outgoing attorney general, the incoming governor, the next mayor of Baltimore. But the spotlight kept shining on Councilwoman Rikki Spector. At the signing of a City Council ordinance honoring Joe Curran this week, the soon-to-be-ex-AG wondered aloud about where he'd place all of his plaques and other memorabilia, The Sun's Doug Donovan reports.

"On eBay," Spector called out.

Curran invoked fond memories of dealing with council members: "Rikki, I won't tell the story about when Rikki and I got lost in Los Angeles. When you're lost in Los Angeles, you are lost. But we found our way."

As the ceremony wound down, Martin O'Malley asked if reporters had any questions for Curran, his father-in-law.

The AG's brother, Councilman Bobby Curran, put a positive spin on the ensuing silence: "He's done such a good job, no questions."

Then the AG himself raised - but didn't answer - the query on everyone's minds: "What was I doing in L.A. with Rikki?"

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