JANUARY 07, 2010
Though she confidently vowed to remain in office after a recent embezzlement conviction, Baltimore’s famously crooked mayor resigned this week as part of a scandalously lenient plea agreement that most definitely would never be extended to the average American.
The veteran politician who stole from the poor, committed perjury, steered lucrative public contracts to relatives and friends and used her influence to get her real estate developer boyfriend millions of dollars in tax breaks and zoning changes will still keep her $83,000 annual city pension. She’ll also avoid jail time, get her record expunged after a brief probationary period and be eligible to run for public office in a few years.
This hardly measures up to the figurative slap on the hand that many influential politicians manage to negotiate for multitudes of wrongdoing. After all, Dixon’s extensive rap sheet goes back to early 2000 when she served as Baltimore City Council president. The immensely popular Democrat, who made history as Baltimore’s first black female mayor in 2007, was indicted last year with a dozen felony counts, including theft, perjury, fraud and misconduct in office.
Authorities say Dixon steered at least $600,000 worth of public contracts to firms that employed her sister and former campaign chairman, unscrupulously used a Baltimore charity, created to finance programs for the underprivileged, as a personal slush fund and stole gift cards donated to the city for poor families to buy herself expensive electronic equipment, fur coats and other items. Some of them will be auctioned off in the upcoming weeks.
As part of her agreement with state prosecutors, Dixon will donate $45,000 to charity, work 500 community service hours and be banned from running in the next citywide election in 2011. She also has to resign as mayor effective February 4, though she had promised to remain in office. The disgraced lawmaker announced her resignation this week at a City Hall press conference in which tears flowed freely. "I love the city,” a sobbing Dixon assured. “I love the people of this city."
Baltimore’s prosecutor, Patricia Jessamy, said she was “personally saddened” that Dixon resigned and assured that her friend is a “hard-working public servant who has worked tirelessly for decades to improve Baltimore.” Perhaps the area needs a new prosecutor as well as a new mayor.
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