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Coverage of Pugh's books seems unnecessarily harsh

A lawyer for Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said Tuesday the state prosecutor has opened an investigation into sales of her self-published children’s book. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun video)

Recently, the media coverage of Mayor Catherine Pugh has been harsh, to say the least. While much of the commentary about the “Healthy Holly” books appears to indicate that she received substantial payments for books that some opine are not worthy, the fact that at least eight other members of the University of Maryland Medical System’s board also received benefits to the tune of millions of dollars is often neglected. Maybe in Baltimore these benefits are a common practice? If we are going to openly investigate every person who sits on a board to find out whether they received any benefits, I think the critics would probably be greatly surprised at what they would learn (“Follow the money: What we know and don’t know about Baltimore Mayor Pugh’s $800,000 in book deals,” April 3).

If our current mayor received a salary of the same amount over the same period of time that she was on the board, would there be a sudden crush of adverse publicity? At many boards of large corporations, the members get perks and some get payments depending on their services and no one is concerned over that.

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I haven't read any of the Holly books, but I believe they are an attempt to bring to the young audience a need to eat properly and the need of exercise. Let us remember the audience that the books were tailored for before we start to criticize their content. From the consensus of opinions, it would appear that many have jumped on the bandwagon and are screaming throughout the community and state that her actions are beyond the scope of any mayor and that she should resign, be fired, and lose her salary.

I met Mayor Pugh years ago when I served as the chair of a local community association. Although she had been advised we only had two members, she came to meet with us anyway and was surprised that 40 to 50 people were participating. I was very pleased that she accepted our offer to come, as well as pleased that the chairman of the board of CSX agreed to become a member of our organization and assist our community in getting their properties cleaned up, as well as other important members of our community who visited with us on issues regarding a bar that catered to underage youth.

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I met a person who was trusting and caring and who explained her positions on issues that we considered important. Two years ago, after meeting with City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young on a project to construct homes out of steel shipping containers for the working poor displaced by high rents and housing costs, I also met with Mayor Pugh who listened intently to our proposal and threw her support to get this started. She engaged us in an even conversation and one of clarity and had questions as to how we were prepared to accomplish this. This was not a mayor who thought that she could benefit from this financially but a woman who was deeply concerned about the working poor who lack housing and food.

The reason for this long letter is to simply say this: Let's not judge her wrongly as she is a decent woman who may or may not have made a bad decision — especially when you consider how so many others also made the same decision. Were they all wrong? Is this a matter of how boards work? Rather than provide stipends or salaries, you assist them on a project? I think we are putting our mayor on a cross and too many people are nailing her to it before the investigation has barely begun. I am not saying this practice by board is wrong or right, but if a cake is brought to the table and everyone eats from it, wouldn't you?

Christian H. Wilson, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Heart's Place Services, Inc.

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