In the waning hours of the 2019 General Assembly session, Baltimore’s House delegation joined other city lawmakers in demanding that Mayor Catherine step down in the wake of her ongoing “Healthy Holly” children’s book scandal.
Speaking with reporters for a few minutes last night, Delegation Chair Cheryl Glenn (45th District) said, “it’s difficult to take a position against someone who we supported. And so we wish her well, and we hope she will take the time to take care of whatever business she needs to take care of.
“But for the best interests of the city of Baltimore, we don’t feel that it would be prudent for her to return and then possibly leave again. Let’s let Mayor Jack Young and City Council President Ex Officio Sharon Green Middleton continue to do the good job that they are doing.”
Young took over as acting mayor last week after Pugh announced she’d be going on indefinite leave amid her recovery from pneumonia—an announcement that coincided with reports that she had at that point taken more than $600,000 from health care organizations for copies of her self-published children’s books.
Pugh wound up voting to renew an agreement with one of the firms, Kaiser Permanente, failing to recuse herself despite their children’s literature-related business arrangement.
The controversy kicked off with reports revealing Pugh received $500,000 for the books from the University of Maryland Medical System board, on which she had served as an unpaid board member since 2001, and subsequent reports have brought the total known payments to around $800,000.
Delegates had already issued a somewhat equivocal statement Monday announcing their support for Young as acting mayor, but not directly calling for Pugh to step down. Last night’s press conference clarified the 16 state lawmakers’ shared position.
“Once the city council, who has to work with the mayor day in and day out, unanimously came together and made a decision, we thought that we needed to stand in solidarity with them,” Glenn said.
Pugh’s office responded to council members yesterday by saying she has no plans to step down. “Mayor Pugh has taken a leave to focus on recovering from pneumonia and regaining her health,” said a 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.”
Glenn told reporters that delegates had not seen the mayor amid the impasse. Asked what they’ll do if Pugh sticks with her plan to return, Glenn replied, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. We hope that the mayor would do what’s best for the city of Baltimore.”
Young, who stands apart from these other elected officials in that he hasn’t demanded Pugh resign, is carrying on as Pugh’s sub.
This morning he met with members of her cabinet, and he’s now headed to Capitol Hill this afternoon to meet with Maryland’s representatives in Congress “to advocate on behalf of a number of the City’s legislative priorities,” according to an agenda provided by his office. He’ll also at the annual Taxpayers’ Night this evening at the War Memorial Building.