Dixon had taxpayers pick up $11,600 makeup tab

Serial Mayor does it again

May 05, 2010

Sheila Dixon billed the city more than $11,000 for cosmetics services, and I'm here to say that's totally appropriate. Not because a poor city should shell out for mayoral makeup sessions that cost $350 a pop, but because the artist who applied that paint also did makeup for John Waters' "Serial Mom."

Debi Young, makeup artist to the sociopaths.

Only someone without a conscience would submit bills for exorbitant make-up sessions to a city struggling to keep enough cops on the street.

But submit them Dixon did, as Fox 45 first reported this week. The city paid Young's Owings Mills makeup studio Debe Colours Inc. $11,600 for sessions that began in Dixon's first months as mayor in 2007 and continued through her final days in office early this year, city records show.

Most of the sessions were $350. At least one, on March 10, 2008, cost $500. That makeup job took place just three days after a $350 session.

The cosmetics expenses came on top of the nearly $700 in hairstyling bills Dixon had the city pay during her last 18 months in office. When the hairstyling expenses came to light in April, Dixon suggested they were justified because she was getting gussied up for appearances on the city's cable channel.

The make-up bills were submitted with the same justification. "Make-up services for Television Production for Mayor Sheila Dixon," the purchase orders read.

I'd love to hear Dixon explain herself, but she hung up on me when I called. She then phoned City Hall reporter Julie Scharper, leaving a message that any questions should be directed to Marilyn Harris-Davis, executive director of the Mayor's Office of Cable and Communications.

If the signatures on the invoices are to be believed, Harris-Davis approved the make-up sessions. She didn't return my phone message seeking comment.

I did get Young on the phone, but she said she was with a client and would have to call me back. She never did.

I wish somebody involved would get on the horn, because I'm dying to find out what in the world Dixon got for all that money. It can't just be war paint for $350 and $500. Was there a chemical peel involved? Botox?

Only her makeup artist knows for sure.

ROASTING THE 'POPE'

As roast subjects go, former Gov. Marvin Mandel hardly comes up short.

His tenure in Annapolis was part soap opera, part crime drama. An affair. A first lady holed up in Government House. A stint in federal prison.

There was good governing, too. And that's what almost every speaker stuck to the other night at an event to mark Mandel's 90th birthday. It was billed as a roast, but about the only person who took that approach was state Comptroller Peter Franchot. Even he treaded lightly — but not lightly enough for the crowd.

Franchot said that as governor, Mandel took an interest in improving the judiciary — and "even tried it out as a customer."

Awkward silence.

"Folks, this is a roast," Franchot reminded the gathering.

Lobbyist Bruce Bereano, who organized the event, said he meant it to be a roast, but most people couldn't bring themselves to poke fun at a man whom he credited with the "creation of modern 20th-century government in Maryland."

"They're so overwhelmed by his age, his accomplishments, his stature — you can't roast someone like that," Bereano said. "Are you gonna roast the pope? Maybe that's a bad analogy."

HAIR APPARENT

There was quite a bit of buzz about Bob Ehrlich's hair at the Mandel event. In a good way.

The once-and-he-hopes-future gov has let his hair grow longish in the back. (Think Senate President Mike Miller, without the curls.) His bangs were pushed off his forehead.There was even a suggestion of sideburns. I thought it looked hipper than his usual 'do, but then again, I've never gotten the hang of the hair thing myself, so what do I know?

"I think it looks fabulous," said one political insider whom I'd spotted playfully tousling Ehrlich's locks.

"I noticed it right away," Bereano said. "I said, 'I luuuve your hair.' He turned and said, 'See, Kendel?"

I suspect The Washington Post's Marc Fisher is going to need a new nickname for "Bobby Haircut."

LOOKING FOR WORK?

Where Franchot had the crowd wincing, Wayne Curry had it scratching heads.

The Prince George's County Exec, sometimes rumored to be running for governor as a Dem, or as LG with Ehrlich, started off with what sounded like a bid for LG buzz. He talked about how he hailed from a vote-rich Democratic district. How he's had bipartisan cred since he was a black kid integrating a white elementary school. Sounded a whole lot like a Dem making a case for a place on an GOP ticket. But he wound down by saying how he doesn't want to be anybody's No. 2. "I'd rather be like Mandel," he said. Ah, Mandel. I'd wondered when Curry would weave him into his performance.

OUT IN RIGHT FIELD

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele got seated waaay in the back of the room at the Mandel event. Other luminaries at his table were Maryland GOP Chairwoman Audrey Scott and MarylandReporter.com scribe Len Lazarick.

laura.vozzella@baltsun.com

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