It’s Baltimore, Hon!: Did Mayor Dixon Steal from the Poor?
High comedy will hit Baltimore, on Monday, Nov. 9, 2009. Mayor Sheila Dixon's trial on theft charges begins. She's accused of stealing about $1,500 of gift cards slated for the poor. The Mayor denies any wrongdoing. There's an ex-boyfriend, a developer, in the mix. He's already copped a plea in another City Hall corruption case and plans to testify against the Mayor. Oh, where is the iconic film maker John Waters when we need him the most?
"Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under." - H. L. Mencken
Baltimore, MD - On Monday, Nov. 9, 2009, the criminal trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon will open up in the Circuit Court House, only two blocks from City Hall, where she's reigned as boss of bosses since 2007. In a way, it will be like watching one of the iconic John Waters' flicks. The case will have it all: sex, fur coats, a shop-till-you drop mentality, comedy, a married boyfriend in heat, gift cards, sleazy politics, back room deals, greed and high priced lawyers. In fact, the Mayor has seven lawyers on her defense team! This is probably a world record! (Saddam Hussein only had three.) This is also something film guru Waters would never allow in any of his movies. One legal eagle blowing off hot steam on behalf of a client would be more than enough for him.
The seven counts in the indictment against Mayor Dixon all deal with her alleged theft of 60 gift cards, meant for the poor. I'm not making this up--gift cards for the needy of the city. They are worth about $1,500 and were donated. Now, $1,500 isn't a lot of money by New York's or Chicago's crooked politician standards, but hell, we're different here in Baltimore. This is the South, Hon!
One of the last Baltimore officials to get jail time was a City Comptroller, Wally Orlinsky. He crossed the line to the dark side in 1982. He demanded $10,032, "five percent" of a contract, that he had helped to secure for a hauling company to truck sludge to a Western Maryland strip mine. Mr. Orlinsky pleaded guilty to an extortion charge in federal court, resigned his office, and got a six-month sentence. He was later pardoned by President "Bubba Bill" Clinton and ended up his sad sack days in a state sinecure (double gasp) planting trees along I-95.
Mayor Dixon, an African-American, has insisted repeatedly that she's innocent. It's true that the case is far from a slam dunk. The State's Special Prosecutor, Robert A. Rohrbaugh, however, doesn't buy any of her excuses and he's convinced that he can make the charges stick. He's been probing City Hall for over four years. To the locals, it feels more like fifty years! And, some are wondering out loud: All of this for a lousy $1,500!
"The Boyfriend" in this drama is a developer, well connected to some of the other wheeler-dealers in town. His name is Ronald H. Lipscomb and he has a cute little mustache and dresses in the best kind of Brooks Brothers' suits. Mr. Lipscomb just copped a guilty plea to a campaign finance violation, in yet another corruption inquiry into City Hall wrongdoing. He is married. Mr. Lipscomb is slated to testify against his ex-flame, Mayor Dixon. So much for a Romeo and Juliet ending to this soap box-like saga.
Is the Dixon/Lipscomb flash-in-the pan relationship yet another sign that we are living in a decaying culture devoid of true romantics? I'm confident filmmaker John Waters will answer that question down the road, if he decides to take on this slice of Baltimore camp.
What fun director/film maker Waters, a/k/a "The Pope of Trash," would have with this yarn. I can only imagine the dialogue that he could dream up for the court room scenes between Lipscomb and the Mayor. Chances are that she will need to testify. How else can she explain away her use of those 60 gift cards and what happened to the products that she bought with them. Did Mayor Dixon make up her own definition for the "poor" and the "needy?" We will find out at the trial, which could take one to two months to finish. Question: "Who will be taking care of City Hall while the Mayor is in court daily?" Why can't Mayor Dixon appoint John Waters, a city native, as her Deputy? At least, the people of Baltimore can have a good laugh as their town goes to Hell.
As for casting the principals of a John Water's film, I would leave that up to the director, who has a genius for such things. However, I do have a suggestion for an actor to play Mayor Dixon--Dave Chappelle! That's right. I said Dave Chappelle. He could do the Mayor in drag! And, there isn't any reason why he can't put a mustache and also do Lipscomb! Having one actor play a dual role will also save the producer some big bucks. Chappelle, in my opinion, is the funniest, most talented comedian in America today.
Getting back to the trial. Some folks in Baltimore think that stealing from the poor is the absolute pits. It's like putting your hand in the collection plate, not to donate, but to take away. Will the Special Prosecutor portray the Mayor in that light? I think what those grasping Wall Street banksters have been doing to America is a far lot worse then what is supposed to have happened in this case. One of the big differences, however, between such wrongdoings: The Wall Street Mob has been screwing the people right out in the open and getting away with it, too!
In law, the presumption of innocence is a terrific evidentiary rule, priceless to a defendant. But, the Mayor's lawyers, are going to have their work cut out for them painting a flawed Sheila Dixon, as a "Mother Theresa" to the jury. (1)
At the moment, Baltimore City is hurting, too, as the economy continues to tank. Municipal employees have suffered layoffs; Bethlehem Steel, once one of the biggest employers in the area, filed for bankruptcy; and the huge General Motors plant on Broening Highway is now part of industrial/labor history. And, then there's the potentially lethal swine flu outbreak, along with the murder count on the rise also. The locals, including the jury of Mayor Dixon's peers, will not be in any kind of "live and let live" mood. Think Darth Vader before he's had his morning coffee!
We now know from documents that have been released in the case that Lipscomb and Dixon, age 55 and twice divorced, were an intimate duo in fancy hotels in New York and Chicago. In fact, the "Baltimore Sun" revealed, in a Nov. 8, 2009 editorial, that there was one situation where "she voted on one of his projects [a multimillion dollar complex] in the morning and hopped a train with him to New York that afternoon." (1) What's the jury going to think about that kind of risqué behavior? It sounds, at least, like ultra-bad taste to me--again, down Waters' comedic alley.
The more of the salacious "Desperate Housewives'" stuff that Prosecutor Rohrbaugh gets out for the jury to hear, the worse it will be for the Mayor. Poor thing. (Oh, strike "poor" from the record.) Supposedly, a former mayoral aide has labeled her a "shopaholic!" Is that a crime? If the jury concludes that the Mayor's a "bad person," then they will be more inclined to convict her, irrespective of the small amount of money involved in this controversy. Juries have their own code in reaching a verdict.
Finally, "Boyfriend" Lipscomb, the once high-flying developer, when testifying, if permitted by the trial judge, could literally open up a "can of worms!" Who knows what kind of sleazy City Hall secrets this guy was privy to as a result of his amorous ties to Mayor Dixon? We know she was "doing" Lipscomb? Was she also "doing" the poor, the needy, the citizens of Baltimore? Stay tuned!
Editor's Note: William Hughes' videos can be found at: link to www.youtube.com.
1. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bal-ed.dixon08nov08,0,3718679.story and http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bal-ed.dixon08nov08,0,3718679.story and link to www.baltimoresun.com and
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