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Acting Baltimore mayor puts another aide to Mayor Pugh on leave

Baltimore’s acting mayor has put another aide to Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh on paid leave, according to sources familiar with the move, adding to the number of her staff members now not currently on the job.

The aide is Stephanie Hall, who is on the staff of the Baltimore Women’s Commission, three City Hall sources said Thursday. She is a former campaign chairwoman for Pugh.

Pugh put herself on paid leave April 1, saying she needed to time to recover from pneumonia. She left work as she faced questions over her sale of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books to entities with business before the city.

Baltimore paying total of more than $685,000 in salary for Mayor Pugh and her six staffers on leave »

Bernard C. “Jack” Young, the Democratic City Council president, has stepped up to the mayor’s job in Pugh’s absence.

In recent days, Young sent five other Pugh aides — many of whom have personal ties to the mayor — home on paid leave. He has not offered any public explanations, saying he cannot discuss personnel decisions.

Young’s office issued a statement Wednesday saying he would “make decisions necessary to provide stability and continuity of government.”

“To that end, I will onboard persons whom I believe are best able to achieve both continuity and stability during this unusual time in Baltimore’s history,” Young said.

Asked about the moves Wednesday night at a crime walk, Young said: “The city is functioning. I’m at the helm.”

Full coverage: Mayor Pugh's 'Healthy Holly' scandal »

Hall was hired in March 2018. She is paid $63,800 a year.

Hall was Pugh’s campaign chairwoman between 2001 and 2003, when Pugh lost the Democratic nomination for City Council president to Sheila Dixon.

Two of the other Pugh aides on leave hold senior positions in the mayor’s administration: Chief of staff Bruce Williams and government relations director Karen Stokes. A third top aide to Pugh, James Smith, submitted his resignation.

Altogether, Pugh and her aides on leave earn annual salaries that add up to at least $685,800.

Young has not said how he might fill vacancies or have employees handle the work of people on leave.

And, even as he makes personnel moves, the future of Young’s leadership of the city is uncertain.

The City Council and Baltimore’s representatives in the state House of Delegates have called on Pugh to resign, as has the Greater Baltimore Committee, an influential group of prominent business and civic leaders.

Pugh has rejected those calls, saying through spokespeople that she intends to return to work once her health improves.

Pugh remained ill Thursday with pneumonia and her condition has not improved significantly since last week, according to her personal attorney and her mayoral spokesman.

“Same,” said her lawyer, Steven Silverman, when asked about her condition.

Asked about her status, spokesman James Bentley said: “I don’t know if it’s bedridden, but she’s still back and forth seeing doctors.”

Pugh was admitted March 24 to Johns Hopkins and spent most of that week in the hospital.

The city charter is silent on how long a sitting mayor can be on leave for illness, according to Andre Davis, the city solicitor.

Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector contributed to this article.

iduncan@baltsun.com

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