The Baltimore City Council continues to seek the ouster of Mayor Catherine Pugh and is proposing charter legislation that would allow mayoral removal on Monday.
The reforms come on the heels of FBI raids and an ongoing investigations from the more than $800,000 Pugh took in for her self-published children’s book series, “Healthy Holly.” During the time, Pugh sat on a hospital board.
But up until now, there was no mechanism to force Pugh, 69, to resign. Current law calls for a mayor to only be fired if he or she is convicted of a crime.
“We heard loud and clear: People want the council to do something,” councilman Kristerfer Burnett told The Baltimore Sun. “They want us to act. This whole situation has been incredibly embarrassing, incredibly disappointing. It has rocked the city to the core.”
Burnett sponsored a charter amendment that, if passed by three-fourths of the 14-member council, would give the council the ability to force the mayor out. The amendment allows the council to take such a vote for incompetency, misconduct in office, willful neglect of duty or if a mayor committed a felony or misdemeanor, according to The Sun.
Currently, the council can legally remove the city comptroller, council president and individual members of the council. Through the proposed amendment, the body would be able to also remove the mayor.
The process is a detailed one where public hearings would be conducted and the council and the city’s inspector general could investigate.
The measure is likely to pass, in which case the amendment would go before voters in the 2020 general election.
Pugh is currently on leave of absence, recovering from pneumonia.
Last week, the FBI searched her Ashburton, Md., home and took out boxes of her “Healthy Holly” books and documents. FBI agents also searched City Hall and few other spots connected to Pugh.
Pugh’s attorney Steven Silverman said Pugh is innocent until proven guilty and that he would vigorously defend her and her right to be mayor. Pugh is currently still out recovering from illness.