This guy's not an empty suit


January 19, 2007|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Maryland's brand-new governor, its just-retired U.S. senator and a host of other dignitaries gathered at the War Memorial yesterday to see Sheila Dixon sworn in as Baltimore's first female mayor. And when the ceremonies were over, reporters and TV cameras naturally swarmed around none of the above. They flocked instead to the tall guy with huge diamond studs in his ears.

Juan Dixon of the Portland Trailblazers is a former University of Maryland star and the new mayor's nephew. He came back to Baltimore to share what he called "a special day." And it turns out that reaching the second floor of City Hall is a lot like making it to the NBA.

"She worked extremely hard to get to this point in her life," he said. "Hard work eventually pays off."

Except for the earlobe bling, Juan Dixon looked every bit the traditional mayoral relation.

He wore a heather-blue flannel cashmere suit by elevee, which describes itself in a news release as "an appointment-only Los-Angeles-based fashion house of custom clothing." Except for the lush fabric, the hand stitching along the lapels and the obscene price tag - elevee suits can cost up to $15,000 apiece, the Los Angeles Business Journal reports - the suit could have passed for standard business attire.

The clothier dresses more than 2,200 professional athletes, including Shaquille O'Neal, and many clients favor flashy hip-hop styling, said part-owner Jhoanna Wiegman. But she said more traditional suits flatter Juan Dixon's frame, which, at 6-foot-3, is petite by NBA standards.

"Juan, he has the physique for more of a European fit," she said. "And that's what we were going for."

Maybe they could just pass notes

First day in the office yesterday for the O'Malley administration. And like anybody starting a new gig, they were muddling through that do-I-dial-nine-to-get-an-outside-line mode. The main headache: e-mail. Or lack thereof.

"We all have relatively new computers but some of us were locked out until an admin person came up and let us in," said spokesman Rick Abbruzzese, who characterized the problems as "first-day glitches."

"Some of the new computers, I think, arrived with internal Outlook problems," he said. "And the IT guys have been working all day to address the situation. They're doing a great job."

Your friends close, your rivals closer

You know you've got to watch your back if, at your inauguration, 11.7 percent of the people on the dais with you want your job in a year. There were 60 people on stage with Sheila Dixon yesterday, and at least seven of them are already running against her, thinking about it, or at least mentioned as contenders. They are: State's Attorney Pat Jessamy, Circuit Court Clerk Frank Conaway, Comptroller Joan Pratt, state Sen. Catherine Pugh, and council members Mary Pat Clarke, Kenneth Harris and Keiffer Mitchell.

Connect the dots

Before administering the oath of office to Dixon, Conaway pointed out that he swore in the last mayor two years ago - and now that guy's governor. "I moved him up," Conaway said. Maybe so. But Conaway goofed up his protege's name, calling him "Thomas O'Malley." ... During the part of the program when dignitaries were recognized, Kenneth Harris was recognized as "Richard" Harris. The councilman, never accused of being a wallflower, intends to redouble his effort to get his name out. "I've got to make sure people know the real Harris around town." ... Kathleen Kennedy Townsend saw Anthony Brown sworn in and recalled her own inauguration as lieutenant governor - especially the moment in the ceremony when she signed a written version of the oath in what is called the "testament book." "I signed in the governor's place," she said. "I had to cross it out." Luckily, she said, there was still room for Parris Glendening to squeeze in his name. ... William Donald Schaefer skipped Martin O'Malley's inauguration, and Dixon's, too. But he popped up yesterday on the Ed Norris' show on WHFS-FM. He told the former city and state police chief that he'd gladly come back. "My rates are very, very, very low - $40 an hour." ... After attending O'Malley's swearing-in, Attorney General Doug Gansler intended to pass on the inaugural gala. How come? "I have book club," he told The Sun's Jamie Stiehm. "I never miss book club." But at the last minute he changed his mind and went to the ball, skipping a confab on The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa. Gansler's office said it was only the second time in 17 years that he has missed a meeting of the co-ed club, based in Chevy Chase. ... The Maryland Archives already lists Stephanie Rawlings Blake as president of Baltimore's City Council. No matter that the council doesn't pick a president until Monday.

Your friends close, your rivals closer

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