Don't go when company comes


June 18, 2008|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Hey, Sheila Dixon, now that the state prosecutor has come to your house with a warrant, what are you going to do next?

I'm going to work out!

As the you-know-what hit the fan yesterday, Baltimore's mayor hit the gym, leaving her house unattended as agents combed through it.

Sun photographer Karl Merton Ferron caught Her Honor on video returning home in workout clothes, walking inside the house, then sticking her head out the front door to ask someone to grab her gym bag from the city SUV.

"She did go to the gym this morning," confirmed Dixon spokesman Sterling Clifford. "That is, in fact, something she does almost every day."

No doubt Dixon's holistic doctor approved, since exercise is a great stress reducer. But what about her lawyer, who was not on the scene? Did he think it was a good idea to leave before the search wrapped up?

"Of course," said attorney Dale Kelberman. "That's wonderful. I told her to leave. She said she was going to work out and I said, 'Go.' "

I'm guessing that Dixon's "Partner in Progress" and fellow fitness fanatic, Martin O'Malley, could understand her escape to the gym. But I am guessing, because the governor's office wasn't commenting.

Luckily, Maryland has no shortage of gym-rat public figures, and now, a growing subset: gym-rat public figures with prosecutors hot on their tails.

"I used exercise to take the stress off at the time," said former city and state police chief Ed Norris, referring to when the feds were after him on corruption charges. "In this case, I may have waited till they left."

Dixon probably didn't miss much by leaving.

"The owner of the property is never going to oversee a search, no matter who that property owner is," said Gerald C. Ruter, a criminal defense lawyer and former deputy state prosecutor. "The police, as a matter of protocol and procedure, will ask the homeowner to remain in one place. They will never be able to visit one room to the next while the search is being conducted. That's for the safety of the homeowner, the safety of the police officer and the integrity of the search itself."

Ruter said it was "highly unusual" for authorities to allow the homeowner to leave. But Kelberman and State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh said that was not at all uncommon.

"If the person is not under arrest, they can leave, they can stay, it's really up to them," said Rohrbaugh, speaking generally because these guys don't confirm or deny the existence of any case, even those involving the mayor and unfolding on a public street in front of a gaggle of reporters.

In any case, the gal in question probably isn't considered a big flight risk. Dixon's drivers, after all, are city cops.

Exercising at an undisclosed location

So how'd the workout go?

I checked with the Merritt Athletic Clubs, where Dixon, a black belt and mother of two who at 54 can still wear a bikini, burns off calories and mayoral angst.

Any reports of barbells tossed into mirrors? Elliptical machines ellipted into oblivion? Karate partners transported to Shock Trauma?

Staffers at the downtown and Canton locations said they hadn't seen Dixon. Spokesman Clifford wasn't saying where she worked out.

Attorney Kelberman would only say this much: "I didn't prescribe treadmill or weights. It's up to her."

O'Malley appointment had some teeth in it

Scout O'Malley could have gotten the old heave-ho when he bit one of the governor's biggest benefactors in the keister.

But Maryland's first family held onto the terrier they'd adopted from a shelter, hoping he'd get used to life in the governor's mansion. Annapolis' hardball ways rubbed off on him instead. Scout finally crossed the line when he bit the guv's younger son, 5-year-old Jack, in the face.

It was just a nip, first lady Katie O'Malley said, but "it was scary."

He was sent to live with one of the mansion chefs, but the scrappy terrier had the chutzpah to pester a dog already there - a Great Dane/shepherd mix. So Scout came back until the O'Malleys found another home, with friends of the family who've tamed other troublesome pooches.

All this happened months ago, but The Examiner just broke the story this week. Now we can brace for a "rehoming" flap like the one that erupted after Ellen DeGeneres gave her dog to her hairdresser. (The shelter where she'd gotten Iggy said the dog should have come back there.)

No complaints, though, from John P. Coale, the big-time trial lawyer and husband of Greta van Susteren. Coale lent the O'Malley campaign $500,000 when it really, really needed it. His reward? Scout's teeth in his behind.

"I am glad Scout has found a home far far away from me," Coale wrote. "I always thought he may be a closet Republican."

Hardly the first bogus presidential candidate

Capt. John Smith, the 17th-century Chesapeake Bay explorer, announced his bid for president in Annapolis the other day.

OK, it was a Smith impersonator. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation put him up to it to draw attention to the plight of the bay, The Sun's Karen Shih reports. His slogan: "A Clear Vision for a Clean Bay."

In case anybody from the IRS was snooping around, this appeared at the bottom of a news release about Smith's bid: "The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. It does not endorse candidates. CBF is running a fictional presidential campaign to elevate the Bay and clean water in the presidential election."

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