- The Washington Times - Monday, April 1, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The scandalous ruins surrounding Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh means Charm City is in the throes of urban renewal — not gentrification, though.

The political affairs of recent times means the city is undergoing socio-political renewal.

This time it involves Ms. Pugh, who announced Monday that she is taking an indefinite leave of absence following two key news items. The first was that the state’s comptroller, fellow Democrat Peter Franchot, had called for her to resign. The second was leveled like a hammer.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said he had requested a probe of the University of Maryland Medical System’s purchase of Ms. Pugh’s book “Healthy Holly.”



Follow this simple story: Ms. Pugh writes and self-publishes a series of books. She also sits on the board of the University of Maryland Medical System, which buys her books. Kaiser Permanente contracts its health care services to state and local governments. Kaiser Permanente also buys her books and keeps its contract.

Mr. Franchot says there’s no documentation of the book sales — no receipts, no invoices, no contract.

For her part, Ms. Pugh says she’s taking a leave of absence effective midnight Tuesday. Can’t blame an embattled politician for exploiting per diem, eh?

Her mayoral predecessor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, was haunted by the ghost of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody in 2015. Subsequent riots tore the city apart, and all the suspected police officers were acquitted or had their charges dropped.

Ms. Rawlings-Blake decided not to run again, and Ms. Pugh had to run hard for election against Sheila Dixon, who had soiled her hands as mayor. In a way, Ms. Pugh won because she was 1). not Sheila Dixon and 2). not Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Ms. Pugh has had a rough go ever since she took office in 2016. She’s had four police commissioners since last year, several officers have been indicted or convicted on corruption charges, the city prosecutor has had to void hundreds of criminal cases and Baltimore’s renewal has largely failed to extend beyond the Inner Harbor.

Regarding polishing up the city, suffice it to say, blocks and blocks vacant buildings in Baltimore have been leveled, giving urban renewal a spanking new meaning.

Ms. Pugh has not been easy mayor to work with, Baltimoreans say, and that’s understandable. Ms. Pugh is no pushover.

She knows the clock is ticking, and as someone who has served in the Maryland General Assembly, she knows when to replace her heels with jogging shoes.

Any day now she’ll step aside as mayor — but if she does not, it’ll be fun watching her explore a new hobby as a pugilist, taking on a popular Republican governor and herself.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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