In 2002, troubled by the debut of The Wire on HBO and its fictional portrayal of Baltimore as a city ravaged by drugs, corruption, and violence, Baltimore City Council member Catherine Pugh introduced a resolution, “Let’s Not Just Imagine a Better Image for Baltimore,” urging the council to “explore what avenues can be taken to project a more positive image of Baltimore.” Seventeen years later, with Pugh taking a leave of absence from her current job as Mayor of Baltimore, the city is still struggling with its image. With a bit of amendment and updating, Pugh’s original resolution may be able to address today’s decidedly nonfictional troubles.
FOR the purpose of exploring what avenues can be taken to project a more positive image of Baltimore; determining how the negative images of Baltimore can be counteracted; highlighting the positive images that have caught the attention of the country and the world; and identifying actions that can be taken by government, businesses, and individuals to promote a better image of our fair City.
“In January 2018, Pugh replaced Kevin Davis with a new commissioner, Darryl De Sousa, but De Sousa resigned five months later after federal prosecutors charged him with failing to file tax returns for three recent years. The interim commissioner, Gary Tuggle, had barely stepped into the revolving door of leadership when he found himself facing fresh crises: an officer who quit after being caught on video pummeling a man on the sidewalk, another found passed out drunk in his patrol car, a top commander who quit after throwing a chair against a wall during an argument at Police Headquarters.” —New York Times
“[Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa’s] prison term marks the downfall of a man once trusted to answer Baltimore’s persistent street violence and scandal in the police ranks. Mayor Catherine Pugh appointed him the city’s top cop in January 2018; he resigned amid the tax charges four months later.” —Baltimore Sun
“From 2011 through 2018, the University of Maryland Medical System had a deal to spend $500,000 for 100,000 copies of Mayor Catherine Pugh’s self-published “Healthy Holly” book series.” —Baltimore Sun
“Pugh has been a member of the UMMS board of directors since 2001. As a state Senator between 2005 and 2016 – and especially as chair of the Health Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee between 2013 and 2016 – she had sway over tens of millions of dollars of state contracts going to the taxpayer-subsidized hospital system.” —Baltimore Brew
“The upheaval over Pugh’s ‘Healthy Holly’ series of children’s books is the latest to shake a city that in the past four years has endured a riot, a police corruption scandal and unceasing violence that has made it among the country’s deadliest.” —Washington Post
“Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said Thursday she made a mistake selling her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books to the University of Maryland Medical System, where she sat on the board of directors.” —Wall Street Journal
“Whether her lapses amount to a crime depends on whether she knew or should have known that the Healthy Holly income needed to be disclosed. (Ms. Pugh did disclose other outside sources of income.) The State Prosecutor’s Office, which successfully prosecuted former Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance for perjury in his failure to disclose outside income, is now investigating.” —Baltimore Sun
“Baltimore can’t afford a leader with no political capital who is distracted by a fight for her own survival rather than the city’s. She says that under the advice of her attorney she will not answer the many, many remaining questions about the book sales. Baltimore cannot endure her leadership under such a cloud. Nor can it afford the uncertainty of a mayor’s prolonged leave of absence with no clarity about whether or when she might return. For the good of the city, Mayor Pugh must resign.” —Baltimore Sun
“Baltimore has thus far resisted the overdevelopment that has sanded off some of the weirder edges of other cities with thriving arts communities like Austin, Tex., Portland, Ore., and, most notoriously, San Francisco. Rather than lamenting the bygone days of some artistic peak, the city is able to point to a living lineage, a continuity that is renewed with each new generation. I think of [Abdu] Ali and their peers like Butch Dawson and Jpegmafia, for example, responding directly to the legacy of Baltimore club, a genre that remains largely unknown outside the city. Rather than tearing things down and starting new, the artistic tendency of the city is to create layers, riffing on what came before and changing it in the process.” —New York Times
The first eight paragraphs are examples of just a few of the ways Baltimore was written about in newspapers articles across the country reporting the latest institutional failure set in our City. Each story describes a politically corrupt hell-hole of a city that chronicling Baltimore’s fate as a patsy for avaricious institutional leadership. The last description is taken from the March 22, 2019 edition of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, in which Baltimore was called a cultural beacon. As residents of this City, which description do we want to prevail?
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF BALTIMORE, That this Body will explore what avenues can be taken to project a more positive image of Baltimore; determining how the negative images of Baltimore as portrayed in newspapers can be counteracted; highlighting the positive images that have caught the attention of the country and the world; and identifying actions that can be taken by government, businesses, and individuals to promote a better image of our fair City.