BALTIMORE — A collection of influential business and civic leaders in Baltimore joined the chorus of callers saying embattled Mayor Catherine Pugh should resign.
The Greater Baltimore Committee’s Board of Directors released a statement Friday acknowledging Pugh’s current leave of absence, which her office said is due to a prolonged bought of pneumonia, wishing her a “speed and complete recovery,” but asking that she step aside so the city can move forward.
“After considerable discussion and thought, the Board determined that Mayor Pugh no longer possesses the public trust or moral authority to lead the city due to concerns regarding the activities that have come to light while she served as a State Senator and as Mayor of the city,” the statement read.
Pugh is currently in the midst of a controversy surrounding deals made with the University of Maryland Medical Systems' purchases of $500,000 worth of copies of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books while she was a State Senator and a member of the UMMS Board. Since those revelations, more companies and groups who do business with the city or state have been tied to similar deals with Pugh and her Healthy Holly LLC while she served in state office. Pugh did not reveal the deals in mandatory financial disclosure forms, though she has since apologized and returned $100,000 for the last shipment of books ordered by the UMMS, which is undergoing its own internal audit following the revelations of similar no-bid practices with Board members.
“The GBC believes the Mayor can no longer provide the leadership and effective government that Baltimore needs and deserves at this time,” GBC President and CEO Donald C. Fry said in the statement. “The GBC Board determined that it is necessary for Mayor Pugh to resign so the city can move on, heal and leverage the many positive assets it has going for it.”
The GBC Board came to their conclusion with a unanimous vote during their April 12 Meeting. The larger Greater Baltimore Committee agreed with their board’s conclusion, also calling on the Pugh to vacate her office.
“Baltimore City has too many pressing issues that must be addressed to be distracted by controversies that threaten the public’s trust in government,” the GBC statement said. “With deep regret, the Greater Baltimore Committee has concluded that under the present and extraordinary circumstances it is in the best interest of the City of Baltimore and its citizens that Mayor Catherine Pugh tender her resignation as Mayor.”
The 64-year-old association sees vast potential and progress that needs to continue moving forward for the city to grow and succeed, prerogatives its members prioritize as stewards of their communities. Leadership that is “laser-focused on the needs of the city” is needed, and Pugh’s current distractions impede those efforts, the group said.
“The rationale for this decision is entirely based on the magnitude of the allegations, the multiple investigations that will detract from the operation of city business, and the personal circumstances surrounding the Mayor that have compromised her trust with the public and elected officials rendering it impossible for her to govern and to provide the strong, trusted leadership that is desperately needed in Baltimore,” GBC’s statement concluded.
The Greater Baltimore Committee Board is comprised of a long list of prominent and influential business people and community leaders including: Trif Alatzas (Publisher and Editor-in-Cheif of the Baltimore Sun Media Group), John Angelos (President of MASN), Peter Angelos (Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Baltimore Orioles), Gary Attman (President and CEO of Future Health and Management Corp.) Diane Bell-McKoy (President and CEO of Associated Black Charities), Courtney G. Capute (Partner-in-Charge of the Baltimore Office of Venable LLP), Robert L. Caret (Chancellor of the University System of Maryland), Richard W. Cats (President of the Baltimore Ravens), Daniel R. Chard (CEO of Medifast Inc.), David Cordish (Chairman of The Cordish Companies), Ronald J. Daniels (President of Johns Hopkins University), Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway Sr. (Senior Pastor of the Union Baptist Church), Dan Joerres (President & General Manager of WBAL-TV Channel 11), Archbishop William E. Lori (Archbishop of Baltimore Archdiocese of Baltimore), Kevin A. Plank (CEO and Chairman of the Board Under Armour, Inc.), Kurt Schmoke (President of the University of Baltimore), and David Wilson (President of Morgan State University). A full list can be found on GBC’s website.