BALTIMORE, Md. — It is a question often asked these past two weeks; even as the acting mayor swears in the next Baltimore Health Commissioner, will, or when will the executive who made this hire return?
“I am just moving the city forward,” responded Acting Mayor Jack Young, “That is up to her when she decides to come back. I am just moving the city forward.”
Young has been asked the question repeatedly, and he simply doesn't know.
No one does, but her and her staff said Tuesday that Mayor Catherine Pugh is still recuperating from pneumonia.
There is no timetable for her return because quite simply, there doesn't have to be.
“We have to take a serious and honest look at our city charter because we shouldn’t be dealing with this situation,“ said City Councilman Brandon Scott.
Scott points out that the city charter doesn't have a mechanism to remove a mayor and there are no parameters surrounding the length of a leave of absence.
In the coming months, Scott said look for that to change.
Members of the Baltimore City Council are currently drafting proposed charter amendments that would more clearly define a leave of absence and provide an impeachment process of the mayor if needed.
“No one thought that you would ever end up here. I don’t think that the councils before or the mayors before, even the citizens before would have thought that this situation is possible. But now that we know it’s possible, it is up to us to put something in place to make sure, in the future, this situation doesn’t have to be dealt with like this,” Scott said.
But even so, any proposal from the council authors would have to be a ballot measure in 2020.
In the meantime, a group of citizens have started an online petition at www.resignmayorpugh.com. It went up this weekend and organizers tell us it has a couple hundred signatures in a couple days.
Aware there is no legal recourse to remove a sitting mayor, this group is hoping enough signatures will convince Pugh to step aside for the good of Baltimore.
However, it is important to note, while there may be several investigations into the mayor's affairs, she is still not charged with any crime.
A spokesperson for Pugh told WMAR-2 on Tuesday she is still recuperating and plans on returning to serve the citizens of Baltimore.