In a statement, the GBC said its Board of Directors acknowledges Mayor Pugh’s current leave of absence for health reasons and expressed its best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery. However, that was as sugar-coated as it would get from the organization that supported Pugh for her mayoral run three years ago.
The GBC said after considerable discussion and thought, the Board determined that Mayor Pugh no longer possesses the public trust or moral authority to lead the city due to concerns regarding the activities that have come to light while she served as a State Senator and as Mayor of the city.
The group's board voted unanimously in favor of a resolution calling on Pugh to go. The mayor is under investigation for her dealings through her "Healthy Holly" company, which has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the University of Maryland Medical System, insurance companies and other businesses. The entire Baltimore City Council called on her to step down earlier this week.
“This was a difficult decision requiring a great deal of thought, but the GBC believes the Mayor can no longer provide the leadership and effective government that Baltimore needs and deserves at this time,” said Donald C. Fry, President and CEO of the GBC. “The GBC Board determined that it is necessary for Mayor Pugh to resign so the city can move on, heal and leverage the many positive assets it has going for it.”
The Board concluded the Mayor’s resignation would be in the best interests of the city. It voted unanimously at its monthly Board meeting held on April 12, 2019 to issue the following statement:
Statement of the Greater Baltimore Committee Urging
Resignation of Mayor Catherine Pugh
The primary mission of the Greater Baltimore Committee is to improve the business climate of the Greater Baltimore region by organizing its corporate and civic leadership to develop solutions to the region’s problems.
For 64 years, the Greater Baltimore Committee has been instrumental in efforts to improve the region, including Baltimore City, by advancing initiatives and programs that create an environment to attract businesses, encourage business growth and create jobs. A strong and stable government is an essential component of that environment
In addition to its obligation to take action that is in the best interest of the city, the GBC, as a membership organization, has a responsibility to its member companies that have financially invested capital and created jobs, which enhance the city and its employment base.
Foremost, the GBC has a duty to take public stances on difficult issues that impact the city, region, and its residents. Baltimore City has extraordinary assets which have spurred unprecedented private sector investment across the city and significant growth in its downtown, largely from an influx of millennial residents. Baltimore is a city full of potential and progress needs to continue to keep the city moving forward and realize its full potential.
Recent news coverage of Mayor Catherine Pugh regarding the solicitation of book sales with not-for-profit companies with which she had a relationship during her public service as a State Senator and Mayor and other activities has damaged the city’s reputation and placed her leadership into question.
Baltimore City has too many pressing issues that must be addressed to be distracted by controversies that threaten the public’s trust in government.
Baltimore needs a strong Mayor who is laser-focused on the needs of the city, its residents, and businesses and can lead the city forward. Trusted leadership is an essential quality of an effective mayor.
Unfortunately, the recent revelations surrounding Mayor Pugh have undermined her moral authority to be that leader.
With deep regret, the Greater Baltimore Committee has concluded that under the present and extraordinary circumstances it is in the best interest of the City of Baltimore and its citizens that Mayor Catherine Pugh tender her resignation as Mayor.
This decision was made after a great deal of thought and is not based upon any determination or judgment as to any wrongdoing. It is premature to make such a judgment until all the facts are uncovered.
The rationale for this decision is entirely based on the magnitude of the allegations, the multiple investigations that will detract from the operation of city business, and the personal circumstances surrounding the Mayor that have compromised her trust with the public and elected officials rendering it impossible for her to govern and to provide the strong, trusted leadership that is desperately needed in Baltimore.
Last week, the Baltimore City Republican Party urged Mayor Pugh to resign. The city GOP says the Healthy Holly book controversy weighs down the administration and deems her unfit to serve.
Party officials said the mayor's book and payment scandals with the University of Maryland Medical System and Kaiser Permanente indicate that she appears to have sold out to big business and health insurance companies. Officials added that combined with her ailing health it's clear she is no longer capable of serving in public office.
Through her spokesman, Pugh released a statement aiming to shut down any thoughts of her stepping down:
“Mayor Pugh has taken a leave to focus on recovering from pneumonia and regaining her health. She fully intends to resume the duties of her office and continuing her work on behalf of the people and the City of Baltimore.” -- James E. Bentley II