Rawlings-Blake responds to Pugh criticism over Confederate monuments

After overseeing the removal of four Confederate monuments in Baltimore, Mayor Catherine Pugh again expressed frustration her predecessor, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, did not resolve the issue herself before leaving office.

“The previous mayor did a study completed in January 2016,” Pugh said Wednesday, after crews worked overnight to take down the statues. “I’m not a person who takes a lot of time to get things done. I make quick decisions based on the facts.”

The latest criticism drew a social media response from Rawlings-Blake, who noted that Pugh has been mayor since December.

Rawlings-Blake sent a tweet Wednesday arguing that Pugh had plenty of time to act: “11 months after the report. 8 months into the Administration. #Priorities”

Rawlings-Blake later deleted that tweet and declined to comment further.

Rawlings-Blake commissioned a task force in 2015 to prepare a report on what to do with the monuments. The panel recommended in January 2016 that two of the four statues be removed. But it didn’t submit a written report to the mayor until September. Rawlings-Blake left the decision to Pugh.

During the first eight months of Pugh's term, the question was relegated to the back burner amid a school budget shortfall, record violence and pressure to finalize a consent decree on policing with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Then last weekend, violence erupted in Charlottesville, Va., during a white nationalist rally that turned deadly — renewing pressure to take down the monuments. The rallies and violence also created emergency conditions that allowed Pugh to bypass the city’s sometimes lengthy procurement process in order to quickly take down the statues.

Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, said Pugh, a former state senator, showed leadership this week.

“There’s been a lot of criticism that Catherine Pugh acts like a legislator still," she said. “This was an example of her exercising executive authority.

“It’s an important moment in her leadership to decisively take down these statues. She took them down in a way that prevented any political violence from happening in Baltimore City.”

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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