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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Miller stops short of calling for Pugh’s resignation

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller speaks with members of the news media after listening to Gov. Larry Hogan deliver his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature Wednesday in Annapolis. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller speaks with members of the news media in January. (AP File Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The leader of the Maryland Senate says the leave of absence taken by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh comes at a bad time for the city, but he stopped short of calling for the former state senator to step down.

Instead, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said, Pugh should be given time to recover from a bout with pneumonia that the mayor said is responsible for her leave — not the controversy surrounding $500,000 in payments she accepted from the University of Maryland Medical System for a children’s book while she served on the hospital’s board.

“Her stepping down at this time could not come at the a worse time,” said Miller Monday night. “Baltimore is in need of strong executive leadership. We’ve got issues of crime, issues of education, issues of a lot of state money going to Baltimore City to assist the city. We need to make sure the money is being used wisely and as directed.”

Pugh abruptly announced she would take an indefinite leave of absence from her job as mayor, which she has held since 2016, to deal with health issues she said are earlirelated to pneumonia.

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young took over as mayor in Pugh’s absence effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

Pugh announcement comes, however, amid increasing concerns about a no-contract deal she had with the University of Maryland Medical System for her Healthy Holly book series. Some of those payments came while Pugh served in the Senate.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” said Miller. “She is a great friend. She was a fine member of the  Senate, the majority leader of the Senate. We had the highest hopes for her as mayor of Baltimore City.”

Continued reports including one Monday afternoon by the Baltimore Sun afternoon found Pugh accepted more than $100,000 from Kaiser Permanente at the same time it was seeking to become the health insurance provider for city employees. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States Inc. won a $48 million contract, which was approved by the city’s spending board, on which Pugh sits and which she controlled as mayor, The Baltimore Sun reported Monday.

“We hope for the best,” said Miller. “The initial reports are very disconcerting.”

Pugh is beset by calls for her resignation from state officials, including from Comptroller Peter Franchot and members of her own city council.

Baltimore Councilman Zeke Cohen took to social media, posting on Facebook that he hopes Pugh recovers quickly but saying that she should leave.

“I believe she should fully resign from office,” Cohen wrote. “Mayor Pugh has lost the moral mandate to govern and the public’s trust. Baltimore deserves better. Our city deserves to trust that our elected officials are acting ethically and in the interest of those they serve at every level.”

Miller, when asked if Pugh should resign, stopped short of declaring her term as mayor over.

“Health-wise she’s not well,” said Miller. “At the present time, let’s let her, her lawyer and her physicians adviser her on what to do. The decision (to resign) is her’s to make at the present time. We’ll see how long it (leave of absence) lasts.  I hope her decision is made expeditiously.”

 


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