DETROIT (WWJ) – A decision on whether to dismiss Charles Pugh from the Detroit City Council will not come as expected Tuesday, after the council decided to table the vote until next week.
Pugh is in trouble over ethics violations in connection with an unexcused two-week absence. Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr shot down Pugh’s request for a four-week medical leave, and Pugh was stripped of his power and pay — effective July 7 — after he failed to return to work as ordered.
Operating under Michigan’s emergency manager law, Orr does not have the power to fire Detroit’s elected leaders, but he does control their pay and responsibilities.
Meanwhile, Pugh is not commenting and has not been seen in Detroit. He deactivated his Facebook and Twitter accounts; his phone was turned off, and friends are concerned. It’s been alleged that Pugh was spotted in Seattle over the weekend, but a purported photo of Pugh relaxing at a Starbucks in that city has not been authenticated.
Why Pugh disappeared remains unconfirmed, but it seems it’s connected to allegations that he had an inappropriate relationship with a Detroit Public Schools student he mentored. A lawyer representing the now 18-year-old graduate and his mother says they’re suing Pugh and the school district, who he says failed to protect the teen.
However, Pugh won’t be facing criminal charges — at least for now. Police say they have yet to interview the mother or the teen, and, as of Tuesday, no meeting had been scheduled.
With Pugh off the job, that leaves only six remaining council members after Councilman Kwame Kenyatta quit and Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown moved on to a position in Orr’s office.
Along with a vote on Pugh’s ouster, the council will vote on a new president and president pro tem next week as well.
Councilman Andre Spivey said a couple of council members have shown interested in those positions. He talked about how they’ll decide on new leadership.
“Those who have shown over the last three years that they can rally our colleagues together and be a coalition builder, have good communication with the emergency manager, the mayor and our colleagues,” said Spivey.
“It’s a no-brainer,” added Spivey. “We’re down to six choices, so it won’t be hard.”