The Ethically Challenged Mayor of Baltimore and Her Book Sales

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.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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