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

Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh of Baltimore is on paid leave, as are some of her highest-ranking and closest associates.

Overall, their annual salaries add up to at least $685,800.

The city has not explained why the mayor’s six staffers have been placed on leave. Ex officio Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young has said he has not fired anyone, and can’t talk about personnel decisions, but aims to “provide stability and continuity of government.”

Here’s a look at who is on leave, since when, and how much they’re being paid.

» Mayor Catherine Pugh, 69, took office in December 2016. She put herself on leave April 1, when she announced that she needed time off to recover from pneumonia. The mayor receives an annual salary of $185,000.

Her illness and absence from office followed the revelation last month that she had a no-bid deal to sell her Healthy Holly children’s book series to the University of Maryland Medical System, where she had been on the board of directors since 2001. She also sold the books to businesses that had contracts with the city.

» Bruce H. Williams began working as Pugh’s chief of staff Jan. 1. Young, a Democrat, put him on leave Wednesday. His salary wasn’t immediately available; the previous chief of staff, Kimberly R. Morton, was paid $183,300 a year.

Williams has a background in information technology, including 30 years with IBM Corp.

» Karen R. Stokes, director of government relations for the city, joined Pugh’s staff the day after the mayor’s inauguration. Young placed her on leave Wednesday. Stokes made $156,743 last year, according to city records.

Stokes, an attorney, lobbies the City Council and the General Assembly on behalf of Pugh’s priorities for Baltimore.

» Afra Vance-White, the city’s director of external relations, was placed on leave last week by Young. Vance-White began working for Pugh days after the mayor took office. Vance-White’s annual salary is $117,300.

Pugh and Vance-White are co-owners, along with city Comptroller Joan Pratt, of 2 Chic Boutique, a consignment store in the Pigtown neighborhood.

» Poetri Deal is on leave as of last week. She is Stokes’ deputy in the government relations office. She joined city government in January 2017 and is paid $100,737 a year.

» Gary Brown Jr. also was placed on leave last week from the lobbying office by Young. Brown, who also started working for Pugh as mayor days after she was sworn in, makes $62,220 annually.

Brown, Deal and Vance-White have close ties to Pugh outside of their roles in city government. A page on a website for the Maryland Center for Adult Training, a nonprofit job-training program once led by Pugh, listed the three as of March 6 as members of the center’s board of directors. The city awarded the center a contract worth $28,649 over the past two years to pay for training regulated by the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

» Stephanie Hall, a staffer on the Baltimore Women’s Commission, was also placed on leave. She joined city government in March 2018 and is paid $63,800 a year. Hall was Pugh’s campaign chairwoman from 2001 to 2003.

Complete coverage: Scandal over Mayor Pugh's 'Healthy Holly' books and UMMS board deals »

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