Dixon’s Raking In The Bread

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From the Bread Man, no less. Mark Reutter at Baltimore Brew has compiled a story that would curl my hair, if I had any left that wasn’t about an eighth of an inch long. The story is a brilliant piece of investigative journalism, connecting the dots on a large volume of political contributions to former Mayor Sheila Dixon. You have to go read the whole thing, but here’s a summary:

Sheila Dixon has been good to John Paterakis Sr.

Before her forced resignation as Baltimore’s mayor six years ago, Dixon was a key backer of the tax credits that paved the way for Paterakis to transform the land he owned near Little Italy into his Harbor East “luxury district.”

The developer’s $150-million Marriott Waterfront Hotel, for example, pays just $1-a-year in city property taxes under a deal approved by the Board of Estimates when Dixon was president of the board.

While serving as City Council president and mayor between 1999 and 2010, Dixon supported tax concessions called PILOTs (Payments In Lieu of Taxes) that saved Paterakis millions of dollars on his other Harbor East properties, including the Legg Mason Tower, and Four Seasons Hotel, that are valued at over $1.5 billion.

This year it was his turn to help Dixon, who is seeking to win back her former job.

Finding herself trailing state Sen. Catherine Pugh in contributions in January, Dixon went to Baltimore’s premier political powerbroker seeking a loan to her campaign, according to informed sources.

The loan hasn’t come through so far, but Paterakis held a fundraiser for Dixon at his Marriott Hotel suite on February 8 that netted the former mayor at least $130,000, The Brew has determined from a review of state election board records.

The fundraiser was instrumental in boosting Dixon’s fundraising total above the amount raised by Pugh during the January-15-to-March-15 reporting period.

Dixon now reports having more cash at hand than other mayoral candidates (including Pugh, businessman David Warnock, City Councilmen Nick Mosby and Carl Stokes, and lawyer Elizabeth Embry) going into the final weeks before the April 26 primary.

The money advantage gives Dixon an edge in television and other spending as she runs neck-and-neck with Pugh, according to opinion polls, and ahead of the other candidates. And the favors that Paterakis has bestowed could be persuasive as H&S Properties seeks city approvals for a new phase of construction, which has jumped across Central Avenue and has a number of big projects in the works.

And we thought things were more than a little sleazy right here in what turns out to be Mayberry RFD, Montgomery County. Clearly, we were wrong. This is just how they roll in Charm City, apparently.

Like I said, go read the rest. Go on, git.

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