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Alone at the Ball

City Paper Digi-Cam™
Sheila Dixon at the Democratic National Convention

Posted 8/4/2004

There she was, sitting in a red blazer, quietly studying newspapers while all around her were happy, smiling, chatting people: City Council President Sheila Dixon, at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, on Wednesday, July 28. It was big day for the 101-member Maryland delegation, what with Mayor Martin O’Malley and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-7th) on deck to take the convention dais for their moments in the bright lights. But for Dixon, it was a solitary affair for long stretches of time early in the evening as she sat almost entirely alone among the Maryland delegates. The plethora of empty seats around her made it seem she was being shunned.

Why the seeming pariah treatment? Well, it may be the shadow of an ongoing U.S. Attorney’s investigation hanging over City Council affairs, with Dixon presumed to be a major target. A week earlier, the news broke that former city solicitor Neal Janey, who was serving as private defense attorney for at least four council member on the matter, had dropped his clients—a development seen by local political observers as an augury of real trouble. Thus, it probably wouldn’t do for many self-respecting Democratic delegates to be seen hanging out with a scandal magnet—if indeed she turns out to be.

WCBM radio talk-show host Les Kinsolving, with a tape recorder strapped to his shoulder, was one of the few who ventured near Dixon. The skinny on Kinsolving in City Hall circles is that he’s a crank whose quirky questions sometimes border on the rabid, so Dixon was scowling in his general direction as he passed before the delegation. But when his eye met hers, she quickly melted into a welcoming smile as he approached to poke his mic in her face. Life’s gotta be tough when Kinsolving is the only friendly soul in the room.

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