As an author, the Barometer can appreciate how difficult it is to write a book, even more difficult to work for sales. However, the mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh, has streamlined the whole process. Her Honor has a series of books, known as the Healthy Holly series (children’s books), that help children learn about healthy living. There are fewer words in children’s books, so that part of authorship was streamlined from the writing angle. Also, the books are self-published, leaving out that pesky step of editors, reviews, distribution, etc. No need for all that rigmarole, Her Honor also found bulk purchasers for her books. The former state senator served on a number of nonprofit boards, and the organizations would purchase large numbers of Healthy Holly books. The University of Maryland Medical System was one of of the book purchasers ($500,000 for 100,000 books), and the then-Senator Pugh went on to sponsor legislation that would have benefited the System (had it passed). In fairness to Mayor Pugh, there were 9 board members of the System that had contracts with the System. However, when Mayor Pugh took office (and let us not forget that Mayor Pugh was elected to replace the former Baltimore mayor who was convicted of embezzlement in 2010) contracts with the city were closely timed to book sales.Kaiser Permanente purchased $100,000 in books, and then received a $48 million contract from the city. Whoa, Nellie, that Baltimore/Maryland area is treacherous ethical territory.
Mayor Pugh is on an extended leave of absence (pneumonia). However, the entire city council has written to Her Honor asking that she resign because of the book deals. Mayor Pugh did issue this bizarre apology: “I sincerely want to say that I apologize that I have done something to upset the people of Baltimore. I never intended to do anything that could not stand up to scrutiny.”
The Barometer critiques apologies — this one should read, “I sincerely want to say that I apologize to the people of Baltimore for what I have done. I should have been more careful in thinking through my actions under a standard of strict scrutiny.”
Meanwhile, crime is up in Baltimore, along with police resignations, and the Feds have not yet taken a hard look at the book deals. “Extended leave of absence” may be optimistic and charitable language for the fate that awaits the mayor.
Update — Catherine Pugh resigned on May 2, 2019. To her credit she said, “I am sorry for the harm that I have caused to the image of Baltimore and the credibility of the office of Mayer. Baltimore deserves a mayor who can move our great city forward.” Good decision.