Dixon touts accomplishments in office

February 24, 2010|By Julie Scharper | Baltimore Sun reporter

Three weeks after resigning as mayor in a cloud of scandal, Sheila Dixon was back in the spotlight Wednesday night. Speaking at a panel discussion sponsored by the Investigative Voice web site, Dixon touted some of her pet causes-- gun control, the environment, prenatal care-- and the accomplishments of her regime.

"Part of what i was attempting to do was to focus on those systemic issues," said Dixon. "So when we talk about cleaner greener healthier safer cities, it wasn't just buzz words."

Dixon, who resigned Feb. 4 as part of a plea deal to settle charges of embezzlement and perjury, was chatty and relaxed, spouting off figures about law enforcement and education.

A notebook and pen rested before her on the table, much as they had at countless meetings during her two decades at City Hall. And she referred to the city as "we," just as she had as mayor.

Joining her on the panel, was another city leader tarnished by legal issues-- former police commissioner Ed Norris. Norris, who spent six months in prison for federal corruption and tax charges, also took the opportunity to highlight his accomplishments in office.

After other panelists complained about law enforcement during Gov. Martin O'Malley's reign as mayor, Norris said, "Notice how everyone is referring to the time between me and Sheila Dixon."

The event, a fundraiser to mark the one-year anniversary of the news web site, was intended to spark conversation, said Investigative Voice founder Stephen Janis. "As journalists, we always want to the talk to the people who are really sitting in the chair and making the decisions," he said. "It's fascinating to see the former police commissioner and former mayor debate."

Dixon said she had spent the past few weeks "regrouping" and "cooking healthy meals" for her son. She has not yet begun her court-ordered community service because she is waiting for paperwork to be finalized, she said.

Dressed in a smart suit, her nails perfectly manicured, the former mayor appeared substantially more rested and relaxed than she had in last weeks in office. When panelist Chris Taylor, president of the Union Square community association, spoke of seeking her help with an issue with police a few weeks ago, Dixon said, "I had a few other things going on then."

At times, the former mayor sounded as if she were running for office. "I'm from Baltimore. Born and raised here. I love this city. It's a great place to live and that's where we should put the focus," she said.

Janis, who was moderating the discussion quipped, "Thanks for the campaign announcement."

"It's not a campaign announcement," Dixon said. "It's what I live."

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