Rodricks: Baltimore Mayor Pugh might need an intervention to make the right decision

Baltimore residents react to the FBI raids of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh's City Hall office and her two houses. (Kim Hairston, Karl Merton Ferron, Jerry Jackson, and Colin Campbell, Baltimore Sun video)

I just received a letter urging me and others to hold an intervention for an old friend who, at the age of 71, still burns candles at both ends and recently suffered serious injuries in a car crash after falling asleep at the wheel. I've been through a couple of interventions over the years — both times to implore men who were alcoholics to get help — and they were awkward, stressful and emotional experiences. The interventions seemed to be more tolerated than welcomed by our hard-drinking chums, and I remember well the mixed feelings that came with being part of the intervention group: On one hand, you believe you're doing what a true friend must; on the other hand, you feel like an overly judgmental scold.

In Baltimore's Drug Treatment Court several years ago, a man who had a cocaine addiction, and who had stolen money from his elderly parents to maintain his habit, described a family intervention that did not go well. When several relatives came to his house to pray for him, several more showed up to wring his neck, and the intervention collapsed into argument and acrimony.


But don't get me wrong: Better for friends to intervene than to just let things go. At the very least, it shows troubled people that others care about them and are willing to help them think things through and make good choices. And it can make them see clearly how their actions affect others.

To hear Catherine Pugh's attorney say Baltimore's mayor-on-leave might not be "lucid" enough to make a stay-or-go decision in the midst of the Healthy Holly scandal suggests that something, other than a visit from FBI agents, might be needed at her home.

That's an extraordinary, if not ominous, comment for an attorney to make about a client. It suggests that the mayor, already in the care of a physician, might need additional help.

So, on behalf of my fellow Baltimoreans, I'm suggesting that the mayor could benefit from an intervention — that is, a posse of friends who will make a house call and convince her to resign.

It sounds like she needs help and support in making that decision, and interventions are sometimes effective in such situations. But the right people have to be involved. That means people very close to the subject of the intervention or "people with undeniable authority," says Annette Hanson, a forensic psychiatrist on the faculty at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.

The situation is terrible.

The last thing Baltimore needs is another embattled mayor or the possibility, down the road, of another embattled mayor who becomes another indicted mayor and then another mayor on trial.

Of course, as of today, Catherine Pugh has not been accused of breaking a law. And, even if that happens, she could return to City Hall and resume being mayor, with close to two years left in her term.

Congressman Cummings reacts to the FBI raids connected to Mayor Catherine Pugh. (Sameer Rao & Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun video)

But she no longer has credibility as a leader and, with all the calls for resignation that we've heard over the last three weeks — an unprecedented crescendo — it's pretty clear she has no political capital left.

She might be getting legal advice to hang on, holding resignation as a bargaining chip with prosecutors should charges ever be brought against her. That consideration might trump all others.

But if she cares about her city — a city that already had plenty of troubles without the Healthy Holly scandal, a city eager to emerge from the current miasma — then she would spare us months of distraction, uncertainty and embarrassing jokes. She needs to move on, and so do we.

And she probably needs friends or an authority figure to intervene and tell her that resignation would be best for the city.