Republican mayoral candidate Maurice T. Turner Jr. denounced rival Sharon Pratt Dixon yesterday for supporting the candidacy of fellow Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton and likened Norton's failure to file D.C. income taxes to the cases of official corruption that have marred the Barry administration.
Turner, a former D.C. police chief, also intensified his attack on Dixon's ability to fight crime. He scoffed at her proposal to attack the "root causes" of crime through neighborhood and family-based programs, adding that "she doesn't know much or anything at all" about law enforcement.
Dixon said she will continue to support Norton, who is running for D.C. delegate to Congress, but also called on Norton to fully disclose the details of her District and federal income tax returns.
Dixon added that Turner's assertion that she would be soft on crime was "an interesting and amusing kind of observation for someone who was police chief at a time when crime escalated, the drug epidemic escalated, homicides escalated."
"I thought he wasn't tough enough," Dixon said, referring to Turner's eight years as police chief, a period during which homicide rates in the District reached record levels.
In back-to-back appearances yesterday on the Diane Rehm talk show on radio station WAMU-FM, Dixon reiterated her pledge to fire 2,000 nonunion managers from the D.C. payroll while Turner portrayed himself as a seasoned administrator with the experience needed to tackle the city's mounting problems of drugs and violence.
Turner's sharp critique of Norton was unusual for the Republican candidate, who so far has concentrated his attacks on Dixon.
"Obviously, if you have those types of problems before you get into the office, what can one expect?" Turner said of Norton, who failed to file city income taxes for the past seven years and who last month paid the District nearly $89,000 in back taxes and penalties.
"This is the same thing that's warmed over again, the same problems that we're currently having with the Barry administration, with people constantly making excuses," Turner added.
A Norton campaign spokeswoman declined to respond to Turner, saying his "outrageous remarks are unworthy of comment."
Turner said it was "unbelievable" that Dixon would continue to support Norton as a member of the Democratic ticket, adding that Dixon's decision not to urge Norton to drop out of the delegate's race showed that Dixon "doesn't have any backbone."
During her half-hour on the Rehm show, which preceded Turner's appearance, Dixon said that although she was "very saddened" and "very troubled" about the Norton disclosures, she was supporting her ticket mate because "the Democratic voters have spoken" in the party's nominating primary last month.
At the same time, Dixon called on Norton for full disclosure on the details surrounding her local and federal income taxes, which the Norton campaign has yet to do. For example, Norton said last month she would not release the tax returns she jointly filed with her husband, Edward, because he believed that would violate his privacy.
"I've asked her to get everything out there, you know, so that the public has a chance to scrutinize it and be comfortable with whatever occurred," Dixon said of Norton. "She has a responsibility to get the facts before the community . . . . I'm eager for Mrs. Norton to get it out before the public."
On the issue of crime, Turner contrasted his 32 years as a member of the city's police force with Dixon's record in private industry, including her tenure as a vice president of Potomac Electric Power Co., one of the region's leading utilities.
"She's never hired, fired or managed anything," Turner said. "In fact, the only thing she's done is had our utility bills increased along the way. She doesn't know much or anything at all about crime. I was out here in the trenches of this city every day, seeing families. I've had people die in my arms in this city."
Turner spokesman Lon Walls said later in the day that as many as 10 crime victims had died in Turner's arms while he was a police officer, but that the former chief could recall none of their names.
Dixon said she wanted to couple enhanced law enforcement programs, such as new foot patrols and additional prison space, with programs to attack the factors contributing to crime, such as unstable neighborhoods and inadequate youth programs.
Turner belittled that suggestion."When people stick a gun in your face and say, 'This is a holdup,' and they offer as an excuse the fact that they came from a fatherless home -- that's tough," he said.
"The road to success is the same for all of us," Turner added. "I just don't happen to believe that you can apply social remedies to solve the crime problems that are occurring in this city."
The former chief also told Rehm, "You know, I'm not for a rehabilitation center down at Lorton," the District's correctional complex in Fairfax County. "I think that it ought to be an institution where people are confined, that they pay for the crimes that they do."