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by Fern Shen5:53 pmJan 25, 20170

Vowing no security detail for out-of-town trips, Pugh parts from her predecessors

Kaiser Permanente and the NBA are paying her expenses to attend a health forum in Los Angeles

Above: The city-owned Hilton “remains the preferred hotel for convention-goers,” Mayor Catherine Pugh says. (Fern Shen)

In the past, Baltimore mayors have used taxpayer-funded security to accompany them on personal out of-town-trips – from family vacations in Miami (Sheila Dixon) to political fundraisers in Martha’s Vineyard (Stephanie Rawlings-Blake).

But today, Mayor Catherine Pugh’s spokesman Anthony W. McCarthy said Pugh will not be using “executive protection” police officers for out-of-town travel.

“Should you be telling us this?” one reporter at Pugh’s weekly press availability remarked, implying that the announcement of Pugh’s travel policy might put her at risk.

Pugh would not be completely without protection, McCarthy answered evenly.

“Those cities are alerted to her presence,” he assured the group.

The new policy accompanied the news that Pugh would be traveling today to Los Angeles for an event sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and the National Basketball Association.

Asked who would be paying for Pugh’s trip to the 2nd Annual Total Health Forum, McCarthy provided the information later in the day: the sponsors.

“Her travel expenses, accommodations and transportation while in Los Angeles are covered by Kaiser Permanente and the NBA,” McCarthy said.

“She left today and will return to Baltimore Friday afternoon.”

Joining NBA Stars

McCarthy said Pugh would be participating in and attending panel discussions at the event tomorrow, which focuses on improving community and personal health.

“This year’s forum will address opportunities and strategies for achieving total health of mind, body and spirit, including strengthening both community and personal resiliency,” according to the announcement on the NBA’s website.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Playworks founder Jill Vialet are scheduled to be on the panel with Pugh. But it won’t be all pols and public health boosters.

Also scheduled to attend are a host of NBA and WNBA stars, past and present.

According to the NBA’s announcement, “participants include NBA All-Star Chris Paul, Hall of Famer Jerry West, NBA Legends Rick Fox and James Worthy and two-time WNBA Champion Sue Bird.”

Some heavy hitters from off the court are scheduled to attend as well: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson.

Long Tradition

McCarthy did not provide an explanation for the travel policy change under Pugh, who was inaugurated as mayor less than two months ago.

As spokesman for Pugh’s predecessor, McCarthy had to explain Rawlings-Blake’s use of a security detail for an August trip to Martha’s Vineyard for a vacation and a political fundraiser for California Attorney General and U.S. Senate-hopeful Kamala Harris.

The city spending board in October approved $1,800 for the meal and hotel expenses of an officer who accompanied Rawlings-Blake on that week-long trip.

McCarthy had said at the time that the Mayor “is required to have security with her at all times.”

Rawlings-Blake has used city-paid executive protection on other family trips, as have former mayors Dixon and Martin O’Malley.

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