Why just exist when you can be mayor? | Image by CP Digicam
The notice of the press conference came less than an hour before the appointed time, 3 p.m., and the TV stations were all going live with it. A reporter could be forgiven for thinking something momentous was about to happen as Mayor Sheila Dixon emerged from her inner sanctum to address her city on the subject of (as the press release delicately puts it), her “Recent Jury Verdict.”
As everyone knows (the New York Times even carried the news), Dixon was convicted Tuesday afternoon of one count of “fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary” (that’s misdemeanor embezzlement) for taking $630 worth of gift cards developer Patrick Turner dropped off at her office a few years back when she was City Council President. Turner testified that it was his understanding that the cards would be given to the city’s poor children.
The state constitution says that upon conviction of any crime involving their public duties, an elected official shall be suspended from office. Mayor Dixon is convicted, and still facing additional misappropriation and perjury charges.
But, like the definition of the word “is” in the infamous impeachment of President Bill Clinton, the definition of “convicted” is now thrown into doubt by legal commentators. If the judge in her case grants her “probation before judgment” at her sentencing, then Dixon’s conviction would be technically no such thing. The constitutional provision is untested.
And so Dixon will fight on.
“I am reflecting on the trial’s outcome, talking with advisors—talking with God—and reviewing my options,” Dixon said at the press conference, departing from her prepared remarks to add the Almighty to her personal advisory panel.
She did not apologize for taking the cards, saying only that she deeply regrets “that the citizens of Baltimore have had to go through this ordeal with me.”
So we’re all in this together. Even though she got the Xbox and we got “cleaner and greener.”
“My attorneys have advised me to limit my comments while the legal process continues,” Dixon said. “In the meantime, my administration and I will continue to do the people’s business without interruption, and we will continue to act in the best interests of the City.”