Mayor Catherine Pugh steps down, leaving Blazers questioning the image of political officials
On May 2, Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh took permanent leave after state and federal investigations found that she had been profiting off her own children's book series, Healthy Holly.
The details of the scandal surfaced early in March when the Baltimore Sun released a report detailing the events concerning Pugh's sale of children’s books to organizations that were seeking multimillion-dollar city contracts. The report led state and federal investigators to look into records of Pugh's office, houses and non-profit organizations.
In 2011, Pugh sold $500,000 worth of Healthy Holly books to the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) while on its board. The UMMS would later enter a contract with the city of Baltimore to pay for public safety in 2016. As a prime example of conflict of interest, Pugh exploited her position on board for personal benefit.
In 2015, Healthy Holly LLC., the organization Pugh developed into a legal firm, donated $5,000 to Pugh’s campaign for mayor.
From 2015 to 2018, Kaiser Permanente paid $114,000 to Pugh while the company was seeking another multimillion-dollar contract with Baltimore.
Though Pugh initially called this investigation a “witch hunt,” she later apologized for her actions. “I am sorry for the harm I have caused to the image of the city of Baltimore and the credibility of the office of the mayor,” she wrote in her official statement.
The results of the investigations created further controversy in a city that has historically had a negative reputation. “I’ve heard there’s a big heroin problem there. And drug rehabilitation programs are pretty expensive and hard to organize,” Blair senior Isabella DeClue said.
In response to the scandal, some Blazers expressed concerns regarding the corruption of authority figures. “I’m concerned but not surprised, because I feel like incidents where political figures are paid off by companies are more common than we think or know of,” DeClue said.
Temporarily in Pugh’s place is former City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young. Former prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah announced on April 10 that he would be running for the office of mayor to replace Pugh. “What we have endured in Baltimore is heartbreaking and humiliating. From our street corners to City Hall, I am running to put an end to crime and corruption,” Vignarajah said.
As the city of Baltimore comes together to recover from this situation, DeClue worries about the lack of trustworthy officials to facilitate the process. “Without a strict administration in place to help alleviate this problem, I’m worried it’s going to spiral out of control,” she said.
In spite of this, public officials and the people of Baltimore are now working together to recover from the events of Pugh’s administration.
Nobline Yoo. Birthday: after World War II <br> My dream occupation? Employed. <br> My favorite color: pink.<br> My favorite time: nap time.<br><br> I love practicing archery, karate, tae-kwon-do, skating, singing, and napping. More »