ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Many may have been surprised to learn that Mayor Catherine Pugh is an author of children's books, and now her six-figure deal to provide 20,000 copies of "Healthy Holly" to the University of Maryland Medical System for free distribution to children in Baltimore is raising even more eyebrows.
Pugh sits on the system's board, and news that she and as many as eight other board members are profiting from their positions comes at a time when senator Jill Carter has sponsored a bill to cut out such deal-making at an institution receiving taxpayers' dollars.
"I've always had some concerns, but then there was specifically a situation where a minority business person wanted to do business and kind of raised my concern or my suspicion that there might be something going on,” said Carter, “so I feel at just the very least there should be full disclosure to the public."
The proposed bill, which reached the Senate Finance Committee today would require the system's board members have no financial ties to it and own no business, which contracts with it.
In a statement, the mayor says an error in her disclosure listed a gross revenue of a $100,000 per year, when her profit is actually $20,000, and she says, "If it is the decision of the general assembly to change those requirements, I will, of course, comply with any and all new regulations."
For her part, Carter says Pugh isn't the target of her legislation.
"To be honest with you, I didn't even realize the mayor was a member of the board. This bill has nothing to do with the mayor," said Carter.
Without revealing their identity, Carter says a board member dealing in insurance, not children's books, is at the heart of her concern.
"In comparison to all of the information that was brought out, the mayor's alleged profit---it pales in comparison. You know, she's small potatoes compared to the other astronomical amounts of money that others on that board are making," said Carter.
While the mayor has pledged to abide by whatever comes out of Annapolis, she adds she hopes that her books are inspiring and instructive to our young people who need and deserve every indication that we care for them and their future.