Baltimore City Council Urges Mayor to Resign  

In a brief, two-sentence letter, the Baltimore City Council called on Mayor Catherine Pugh to resign from office on Monday, April 8. The call follows a scandal involving Pugh’s children’s books being purchased by businesses that have dealings with the city. “The entire membership of the Baltimore City Council believes that it is not in the best interest of the City of Baltimore, for you to continue to serve as Mayor. We urge you to tender your resignation, effective immediately,” the letter, signed by 14 City Council members, stated.

In a statement released after the letter, Councilman Brandon M. Scott said the city of Baltimore would continue to “have a cloud over its head while the investigations into Mayor Pugh’s business dealings go on.” Scott said the scandal was “extremely severe” and prohibited Pugh from focusing on her job.

“My colleagues and I understand the severity of the action we have taken, but know that it is what's best for Baltimore,” Scott added. “A lot of work remains to rebuild trust in our government, but that will not start until the Mayor resigns.”

The Baltimore City Council and Mayor Pugh’s office did not immediately respond to The North Star’s requests for comment. Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young did not sign the letter. Young has been serving as the “ex officio Mayor of Baltimore City” since Pugh took a leave of absence last week, CNN reported. Young told The Baltimore Sun that he was not asked to sign the letter, and noted that he would not have signed it had been asked. Young said that if he had signed the letter it would appear as if he wanted to remain acting in a mayoral capacity, which he has repeatedly stated he does not want.

Hours after the City Council released its letter, the mayor’s office released a second statement reiterating that Pugh was taking a leave of absence for health reasons and that she planned to return to her post as mayor.

“Mayor Pugh has taken a leave to focus on recovering from pneumonia and regaining her health,” her office said in the statement. “She fully intends to resume the duties of her office and continuing her work on behalf of the people and the City of Baltimore.” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, requested that the state prosecutor launch an investigation into the sales of Pugh’s Healthy Holly children’s books. Pugh was paid nearly $700,000 for copies of her self-published series by businesses that had dealings with the government, most of which were health care related.

According to The Washington Post, the probe would take a look at Pugh’s book deal with the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), which paid $500,000 for 100,000 copies. UMMS began ordering the books in 2011 when Pugh was a state senator who served on a committee that helped fund the hospital network. Pugh was also paid $100,000 by Kaiser Permanente and $80,000 by Associated Black Charities for 20,000 copies and 10,000 copies, respectively.

Young said he had spoken to Pugh, who confirmed that she intended to return to office once she felt better and was cleared by her doctor. “She’s still the mayor until she comes back or she resigns,” Young told The Baltimore Sun.

In an interview with television station WJZ, Scott stressed that Pugh would be unable to do her job properly due to the scandal. “When you’re in public service, you are sworn to serve the citizens of Baltimore, here, above all, including yourself.” Pugh was elected Baltimore’s mayor in 2016 and her term is set to expire in 2020. The Baltimore Sun reported Pugh will continue to receive her mayoral pay of $185,000 a year while on indefinite leave of absence.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.