The Baltimore City Department of Transportation is looking into whether its former bike share coordinator’s new job with the program’s Canadian vendor could be at odds with a city ethics policy.
Jay Decker, who left his $58,000-a-year job at the transportation department one day before the program’s one-year anniversary in October, has been named director of field operations for Bewegen, said a company spokesman, Chris King.
In that role, he’s called repeatedly into the city’s weekly Baltimore Bike Share planning conference calls, King said.
“He has knowledge on the background of these new stations opening next week,” King said in a recent text message. “That’s why he has been in on these conversations, that’s it. … Jay’s job is not Baltimore Bike Share.”
But city policy prohibits former employees from representing outside entities in city business in cases when “the former public servant significantly participated in the same matter as a public servant.”
“The Director of Transportation was not aware of this situation and we are looking into this matter,” Kathy Dominick, a department spokeswoman, said in a statement.
City Solicitor Andre Davis said that merely being employed by a city vendor after being a city employee is not prohibited.
“Something more is required to trigger a prohibition,” he said.
In a follow-up email after being informed of Decker’s continued involvement in the bike share program as a Bewegen representative, Davis said: “I’m told he was on an approved contract and was not strictly speaking a ‘City employee.’ ”
Decker did not recommend Bewegen and was not involved in the selection of the vendor, another department spokeswoman, Adrienne Barnes, said in a statement. His job was created for the bike share program, she said.
“He was on an employment contract because his position did not exist as a city position until it was created through Human Resources,” the statement said.
The department did not provide any further explanation as to why Decker, who is listed in the city’s Open Baltimore salary database, would not have been considered a city employee.
City Councilman Brandon Scott said the situation raises questions for him.
“For me it seems questionable and I would be very interested in whether the law department says that’s something he should be doing,” Scott said.
Decker’s primary role at Bewegen is to work with Corps Logistics, its maintenance subcontractor, and bike planners to manage the installation of new bike share systems, officials for both companies said.
Bewegen did not make Decker available for an interview. Reached at his Bewegen email account, Decker referred questions to the city transportation department.
“They'll loop me in if needed,” he wrote.
A spokeswoman for the department declined to do so, questioning the department’s responsibility for handling the interview request, since Decker isn’t a current employee.
Asked in October where Decker was going after leaving his role with the city, the department told The Baltimore Sun in a statement only that “Jay will be moving out of the state.” Decker declined an interview request at the time.
Launched in the fall of 2016 with 200 bicycles at 20 stations, the $2.36 million Baltimore Bike Share program was supposed to expand to 500 bicycles at 50 stations last spring. Instead, the system was so plagued with thefts and maintenance problems that officials shut it down for a month in September.
Corps Logistics CEO Jim Duffney said that his company has returned 200 bicycles to the street and that the system will soon add nine new docking stations. The Baltimore Bike Share mobile app, which has had persisting problems with accuracy, showed more than 20 reopened stations as of Monday.
The bikes cost $2 to rent for a 45-minute single trip or $15 for a monthly pass, which provides an unlimited number of 45-minute rides for 30 days.
Duffney said Decker is experienced and will be instrumental in launching programs in Raleigh, N.C., and Pioneer Valley, Mass.