BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City councilmembers signed a letter Monday calling for the resignation of Mayor Catherine Pugh. But Pugh said she intends to return to her duties.
“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,” the letter stated. “We urge you to tender your resignation effective immediately.”
The letter is signed by all 14 members of Baltimore’s City Council, calling on Mayor Pugh to resign.
“I can’t walk my dog without somebody coming out the door asking, ‘Why hasn’t the mayor resigned?'” said Councilman Kristerfer Burnett.
“Unfortunately, it looks like she’s utterly willing to drag this out as long as she sees fit,” said Councilman Ryan Dorsey.
Councilman Dorsey was the first on council to call for the mayor to resign. She is currently on leave, citing her health.
The controversy surrounding Pugh and her “Healthy Holly” book deal with the University of Maryland Medical System has continued since she went on a leave of absence on April 1.
This comes amid several investigations into her business deals, from a variety of places- including the state prosecutor’s office, the City’s Board of Ethics, the City’s law department, the state insurance commissioner and an internal audit from the UMMS.
The mayor received payments from several companies and entities for her “Healthy Holly” children’s books, totalling at least $700,000.
“The active investigations seem to be predicated on pretty clear and hard evidence of deep infractions of ethics, law and public trust,” Dorsey said.
“I’m happy to talk about potholes, clean alleys and violence. Instead, I’m having to talk about this,” Burnett said.
The Council cannot remove the mayor from office, but they say they are working on an amendment to change the city charter.
In the near term, Mayor Pugh’s political capital- should she return- may be withering.
“We cannot continue with the cloud that currently exists over Mayor Pugh,” said Councilman Burnett. “The position the mayor plays on the Board of Estimates, passing contracts and making spending decisions, I think it’s going to be heavily scrutinized,”
Councilman Dorsey, meanwhile, is accusing the mayor of holding onto her office as a bargaining chip.
“We should be able to expect better of you than to put your own welfare above the welfare of those you are elected to represent,” Dorsey said.
During Pugh’s absence, Council President Jack Young has been filling in as Acting Mayor.
Pugh released a statement Monday however saying she ” fully intends to resume the duties of her office.”
“Mayor Pugh has taken a leave to focus on recovering from pneumonia and regaining her health. She fully intends to resume the duties of her office and continuing her work on behalf of the people and the City of Baltimore,” Pugh’s spokesman said.
Councilmen Brandon M. Scott and Eric Costello posted the letter to Twitter with the signatures of all the councilmembers.
“Baltimore will continue to have a cloud over its head while the investigations into Mayor Pugh’s business dealings go on. These issues are extremely severe and prohibit the Mayor from focusing on the business of Baltimore,” said Councilman Scott in a statement. “Baltimore deserves a Mayor who can focus on reducing crime, improving our schools and restoring trust in our government.”
Councilman Costello also released a statement saying in part, “This unprecedented step has not been taken lightly. While I fully support the notion of “innocent until proven guilty,” I remain deeply concerned about the immeasurable toll this scandal has taken on the City of Baltimore and its citizens.”