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Charles Pugh’s Absence ‘An Elephant In The Room’

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Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh at the 10th Annual WWJ Winter Survival Radiothon for THAW. (WWJ Photo, File)

Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh at the 10th Annual WWJ Winter Survival Radiothon for THAW. (WWJ Photo, File)

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Detroit Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has denied City Council President Charles Pugh’s request for a four-week medical leave.

According to spokesman Bill Nowling, Orr told Pugh he has until 5 p.m. Wednesday to report to work or resign.

This all comes after Pugh missed several council sessions over the past two weeks — and has shut down his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

President Pro-tem Gary Brown, who said he didn’t know the reason for the request,  but said Pugh has been out of the office for the past 10 days.

During Tuesday’s session, council member Ken Cockrel said Pugh’s absence can’t be ignored.

“There’s an elephant in the room that we’re not talking about, or maybe you (Brown)  just got some information on it because you shared it with us. But, logically, the president would be doing these things,” said Cockrel. “Where is the president?”

Brown said he’s been trying to gather additional information about Pugh’s whereabouts.

“I did attempt to contact him last night and this morning just to find out if I would be chairing the meeting so that I’d be prepared … so I don’t have a good answer,” Brown said.

Brown said word of Pugh’s medical leave came to him Tuesday in a memo from a Pugh staffer. “I don’t know what the medical reason is, and if he’s got medical issues then I’m not going to question his taking the leave,” Brown told reporters.

Pugh received the most votes in the last election and is not seeking re-election this year. He earns about $76,000 per year. If he steps down, only seven council members will remain. Kwame Kenyatta resigned last week.

Meantime, Brown is expected to announce a decision that he’s leaving the council to work with Orr.

In light of all of this, Cockrel said he still believes finishing the year without appointing new members to the council would be the most efficient option.

The Council lost much of its authority when Orr was hired in March to fix Detroit’s finances.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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