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Baltimore Mayor Takes Health-Related Leave as Book Scandal Grows

In this Dec. 6, 2016 file photo, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh delivers an address during her inauguration ceremony inside the War Memorial Building in Baltimore.

In this Dec. 6, 2016 file photo, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh delivers an address during her inauguration ceremony inside the War Memorial Building in Baltimore. AP Photo

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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | The 100 Resilient Cities program will close up shop this summer ... Supreme Court allows Missouri execution to move forward ... Eagles causing problems at Washington state landfill.

As a scandal involving the sale of children’s books escalated Monday around Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, her office announced she would take “an indefinite leave of absence” to recover from pneumonia. The statement said Pugh’s doctors have advised that “she needs to take time to recover and focus on her health.” The mayor, a Democrat, was hospitalized with the illness last week. But she has also been dealing with questions from the Baltimore Sun about her self-published children’s books featuring “Healthy Holly,” a girl who advocates for a healthy lifestyle. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, on Monday asked the state prosecutor to investigate a deal the mayor brokered with a hospital system to buy $500,000 worth of copies of the book. She had sat on the University of Maryland Medical System board. The Sun also reported on Monday that Kaiser Permanente bought about $114,000 in books over several years, including during a time when Pugh was mayor and the company was seeking a contract to manage health benefits for city employees. Pugh apologized for the UMMS deal last week during an emotional news conference, calling it a “regrettable mistake.” City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young will serve as mayor during Pugh’s absence. [Baltimore mayor’s office; Baltimore Sun]

CLOSING DOWN | The Rockefeller Foundation is closing the 100 Resilient Cities program, which helped cities prepare for climate change. The program helped cities hire more than 80 chief resilience officers. The foundation announced it will be giving the Atlantic Council a $30 million grant to continue resilience efforts. A Rockefeller spokesman told Bloomberg that aspects of the 100 Resilient Cities program’s work will shift to the foundation’s other initiatives. Jobs for 100 Resilient Cities employees will end on July 31. [Bloomberg]

TRAIN LAGS | As the Brightline express train in Florida moves forward with an expansion from West Palm Beach to Orlando, company ridership figures for a Miami to West Palm route show they are still below initial projections. [Miami Herald]

DEATH PENALTY | The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said Missouri can execute by lethal injection a death row inmate who suffers from a medical condition that could cause him to suffocate on his own blood during the execution. Russell Bucklew, convicted of rape and murder, had asked the state to find another way to carry out the death sentence. But in his 5-4 opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that “the Eighth Amendment does not guarantee a prisoner a painless death.” [USA TODAY]

GARBAGE EAGLES | The Metropolitan King County Council is pondering how to keep bald eagles and other large birds out of a dump the council wants to expand outside of Seattle. The birds feast on refuse and then drop garbage into the surrounding neighborhood. [Seattle Times]

Laura Maggi is Managing Editor at Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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