As you have probably heard, Mayor Pugh is on a temporary leave of absence as she recovers from pneumonia and deals with the state investigation into her Healthy Holly book deals with UMMS. Just this week, the the Baltimore City Council and the Maryland State Delegation have called on her to resign.
This is the latest example of the revolving door policy between wealthy institutions and powerful Democrats. While Kaiser Permanente purchased $100,000 of Mayor Pugh’s books and later received a $48 million contract to provide City employees with health insurance, poor Baltimoreans continue to pay ever increasing costs for medical care.
Meanwhile, and equally disturbing, Hopkins officials gave Mayor Pugh $18,000 in campaign contributions right before she pushed for a bill in the state legislature that would allow them to have a private unaccountable police force, despite the concerns of residents, students, and advocates.
The corruptions that undermine Baltimore are not limited to the most recent scandals. The decades of PILOT and TIF funding that have been given to developers are a legalized form of wealth transfer. This transfer of billions of dollars of taxpayer money to wealthy well-connected insiders is based on the same disregard of the people of the city, much like the UMMS and Hopkins pay-to-play scandals.
We Baltimoreans are left with little power to fight this corruption. The Mayor maintains significant influence over the board of estimates in the absence of any checks or balances; the City Council lacks any power to remove her without an indictment or resignation; no recall process or special elections exist for Baltimore residents to have a say in our City’s future. And the few in the City Government who do have influence are themselves appointed by or heavily influenced by the Mayor.
While this crisis is still unfolding, we do know that campaign finance law and ethics rules have been violated. We also know that Pugh is not the only one involved in this scandal, which is why we need to keep pushing to make sure the largely white male Democratic Party network involved in the graft and corruption are also held accountable.
At the core of this lies the fact that this was all done at the expense of Baltimore City residents. As thousands of copies of the books sit in warehouses or remain unaccounted for, City residents are struggle to meet their healthcare needs. This is why the Baltimore City Green Party calls for the mayor’s resignation and an expanded investigation into all people and parties involved. Indeed this as an opportune time to also call for Curt Anderson’s resignation, because we know that graft is not the only kind of corruption that the Democratic party machine protects.
There are absolutely changes that need to occur to the charter, and we look forward to robust debate about them in the council and during the petition process. The key values should be transparency, accountability and grass roots democracy where people are involved in the process of determining their future. That’s why we just released our call for candidates for 2020 this week and will be announcing more about plans for 2020 in the coming weeks. We believe now is the time for good people to come together and demand better.