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Baltimore Mayor Pugh adds 20 positions as mayor's office continues to expand

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh talks Wednesday about creating 20 new positions in her office. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun video)

Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh is adding 20 positions to divisions within her office as part of a move to expand city services and better promote them.

The new positions include eight neighborhood liaisons, six media and communications representatives and five homeless outreach workers.

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The move continues an expansion of the budget for the mayor’s office, which also grew under Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Pugh budgeted $8.6 million for her office this year. That’s an increase of $1.6 million from a year ago.

Pugh said the jobs would be housed in various divisions of her office, such as the employment development agency that helps residents find work.

“What people don’t understand is the mayor’s office has layers,” she said.

The Board of Estimates, which Pugh controls, approved the positions unanimously Wednesday without discussion.

Lester Davis, a spokesman for City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who voted for the positions, said they are designed to bring better services to the community.

“We have to have a balancing of making sure we are responsible with taxpayer dollars and making sure we can fund the services that the citizens need,” Davis said. The council president “understands that these positions are going to help the city serve people better.”

The highest-paid of the new jobs are a yet-to-be-named marketing chief and a director for the new Office of African American Male Engagement. That office will be led by Andrey Bundley, a former city high school principal and mayoral candidate.

Both positions can be paid up to $155,000 a year, according to the board vote.

Pugh said Bundley will model the office on a similar city agency in Philadelphia.

“How do we get our arms around black men in the sense that they can feel elevated, inspired and move forward? That’s what that office is about,” Pugh said.

City Comptroller Joan M. Pratt also voted for the positions. She praised the new office that will focus on African-American males.

“Hopefully this position will help to save some lives,” Pratt said. “Andrey Bundley is an educator who grew up and beat all the odds. He can really relate to younger African-American men.”

The marketing director will actually be a director of public affairs, Pugh said. That person will help organize events, such as concerts and movie nights, she said.

The two highest-paying jobs dealing with the media — press secretary and social media strategist — will be paid up to $95,000. Other jobs in the office, including social media officer and press officer, will be paid up to $75,000.

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Pratt said she saw the communications positions as important because they will help recruit people to receive city services.

“We definitely need to get the word out about the things the city is doing,” Pratt said. “We need to increase our residents. We need someone to tell our story of the wonderful things that are happening in Baltimore city.”

The neighborhood liaison positions will be paid up to $95,000. The homeless outreach workers will be paid up to $80,000.

“Homelessness is a major problem in our city,” Pugh said. “You need people out there 24 hours dealing with the problems of our city. We don’t just move people off the streets. We have conversations. We do surveys. We locate places where they can go.”

The neighborhood liaisons, Pugh said, would be going into communities around the city, identifying problems, and bringing help from the city.

“This is so we can become a more 24-hour city in terms of services,” she said.

Pugh has more money to work with in her office than previous mayors. In her first spending plan, she earmarked $8.6 million to the mayor’s office, which includes 11 different divisions focused on emergency management, immigrant affairs, minority businesses and several other issues.

That was an increase over the $7 million that Rawlings-Blake included in her final budget. Two years ago, the office had a budget of $5 million.

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