If Pugh won't resign, Frosh can provide the basis for her removal
May 01, 2019 at 4:20 PM
Steve Silverman, attorney for Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh, speaks after a short visit with embattled Mayor Catherine Pugh.
Baltimore is at a crossroads. It is a city with a lot of promise. I have traveled to all 48 contiguous states and lived in communities from one coast to the other. I have chosen to live in Baltimore because of the moderate weather, the access to the beach and the mountains and, of course, the Maryland blue crab.
Much like other urban areas of the country, Baltimore has seen its fortunes and population fade over the last two decades due in part to failed political leadership. While other cities have embraced change, Baltimore is one of the most notable holdouts where machine politics and willful inaction still supersedes the common good. It is the matter of willful inaction which drives the subject of this letter.
For a month, the people of Baltimore have paid for the services of a mayor who has taken a leave of absence (“Money for nothing: What Baltimore is paying Pugh and aides not to work,” Apr. 24). Several weeks ago, I started an online petition asking Gov. Larry Hogan to use his constitutional authority to remove Ms. Pugh. To date, the petition has received more than 500 supporters and continues to grow.
She needs to be removed. The key participants are the Baltimore City Council, the Baltimore City delegation of the Maryland General Assembly and Attorney General Brian Frosh. Here is the process which needs to occur:
1.) The Baltimore City Council and/or members of the Baltimore City General Assembly delegation must write a letter of inquiry to Attorney General Brian Frosh. Both legislative bodies have already gone on record to ask for the mayor’s resignation. However, those are only words. The removal process must begin with a letter to the Attorney General asking for an opinion on the governor’s constitutional authority to remove the mayor of Baltimore under any of the three grounds listed here — a conviction in a court of law, of willful neglect of duty, or misbehavior in office. For local governments, the attorney general's website says the inquiry letter must be submitted by the chief executive or the head of the City Council.
2. The Office of the Attorney General under Article V, Section 3(a)(4) reads that the attorney general (shall) “give his opinion in writing whenever required by the General Assembly or either branch thereof, the Governor, the Comptroller, the Treasurer or any State's Attorney on any legal matter or subject.” Only the attorney general is authorized to clarify the extent of Governor Hogan’s authority to remove the mayor. Simply put, if Attorney General Frosh decides the governor can remove the mayor for any of the reasons in Article XI, Section 6, his opinion can be the vehicle which ends this mess. Receiving a salary while not fulfilling the obligations of the office of mayor constitutes willful neglect of duty. It seems two of the three qualifying reasons for removal have occurred. It is time for the state’s highest ranking law enforcement official to step up to the plate to protect the people of Baltimore.