The Kennedy name still works, sometimes

January 25, 2009|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Anyone caught in the logistical nightmare formerly known as Barack Obama's inauguration can take heart that democracy was at work: Even some Kennedys got frozen out.

Three of former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's four daughters planned to attend the swearing-in.

Yes, they had Uncle Ted to get them tickets, but they waited in line like everybody else to get inside the Purple Zone. And waited. And waited. In a tunnel. In the cold. And mostly in place.

They moved a bit over the course of three-plus hours, but not enough to get them inside. Their primo Washington connection had hooked them up with what turned out to be the inauguration's worst-run gate.

"The biggest problem was the Purple Gate - already made infamous by a Facebook group called 'Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom,' " Politico reported.

As one disappointed blogger put it: "Getting to the Purple Zone: 'Yes We Did NOT!' "

By 11:15 a.m., Maeve and Kate Townsend decided to go back to Maeve's Washington apartment - she's a Georgetown law student - to watch the event on TV. Kerry Townsend, 17, figured she could meet up with her Friends School classmates since she knew where they'd be on the Mall. She ran for the Mall but kept hitting barricades.

"It was extremely frustrating," she said. "By 11:45, I had run around the entire Mall trying to get inside. I was so angry and so upset that I had a ticket and wasn't able to get inside."

She approached a police officer.

"I'm 17 and I'm by myself I really need to get to my school [group]," she said.

No luck.

So the high school senior did something she said she never does. She said the heck with democracy dropped the name, the one that she said normally "doesn't define who I am. It just happens to be one of my middle names."

"I said, 'My mom's Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, and she's on the platform and is there any way you can get me to my school?'"

And, for good measure, "My uncle is Ted Kennedy."

The officer let Kerry through the barricades. She was able to join her classmates and catch the last half of Obama's speech on the JumboTron.

"It was helpful to be a young, cute girl and also have a good name."

He was in business?

Even if the city doesn't pick up Sheila Dixon's legal tab, taxpayers sure would have gotten their money's worth.

On the day of Dixon's indictment, attorney Arnold Weiner claimed Dixon couldn't possibly have known that the guy accused of showering her with cash and merchandise was doing business with the city.

His reason: The city had failed to keep a list of companies it does business with.

A few days later, The Baltimore Sun's Annie Linskey produced just that sort of list, kept by the city's Ethics Board. Ronald Lipscomb's Doracon Inc. was on it.

But the hard-working Weiner had a response. He said Dixon was still off the hook because the board had failed to have the list certified by the city finance department.

That, and Dixon didn't have the computer password she needed to access the list on the finance department database.

No password? Is that what $600,000 in no-bid computer wizardry from Dixon's campaign chairman, Dale Clark, bought her?

City ethics law says a public servant may not accept gifts from anyone he or she "knows or has reason to know" does business with the city.

Just guessing here, but wouldn't Lipscomb's line of work have come up in conversation? If not on their first date, then on that long train ride on Feb. 18, 2004, when the pair traveled to New York for a $3,200 weekend at the Trump International - paid for, the indictment states, by Doracon Inc.?

I imagine something along the lines of:

Dixon: "How was your day, hon?"

Lipscomb: "Great! I got the city's Board of Estimates to give me a 20-year tax break on my $97 million Spinnaker Bay project."

Dixon: "What a coincidence! I chair that board and voted for that tax break!"

Connect the dots

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