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Baltimore Mayor Young forced out three senior officials in one day

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young quietly forced out three cabinet-level officials in a single day, and his administration is declining to elaborate on what triggered the upheaval. Young is shown May 7, 2020, at the Baltimore Public Safety Training Facility.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young quietly forced out three cabinet-level officials in a single day, and his administration is declining to elaborate on what triggered the upheaval. Young is shown May 7, 2020, at the Baltimore Public Safety Training Facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young forced out three cabinet-level officials in a single day, and his administration is declining to say what triggered the upheaval.

Gone from city government are Housing Commissioner Michael Braverman, Equity and Civil Rights Director Raemond Parrott and Tonya Miller Hall, who ran Charm TV.

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Young spokesman James Bentley confirmed the three senior officials were “given options for their separation from the city” Friday, but would not provide more detail. The mayor’s office did not announce the departures.

The personnel moves come amid a global pandemic and in the final months of Young’s lame duck administration. The mayor lost the Democratic primary in June and will leave office in December.

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Braverman, whose career spanned three decades in Baltimore, is the most high-profile official forced to leave. His salary for fiscal year 2019, the most recent year available in a city database, was about $202,000.

His departure shocked several housing advocates, who say the timing is particularly troubling because the number of evictions is expected to explode as part of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and the related financial crisis.

Bravernman’s office was helping to manage a $13 million rental assistance fund as part of the city’s response to the damaged economy. Before he was fired Friday evening, he had been on a conference call about how to prevent mass homelessness.

Braverman said in a statement Friday that his firing from the Department of Housing and Community Development “came as a complete surprise.”

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His chief of staff also left city government. Her last day was Friday, too, Bentley confirmed.

Hall, the city’s director of cable and communications at an annual salary of about $139,000, declined to comment on whether she was fired or resigned, but provided a statement Monday to The Baltimore Sun. She said she stands by her work to elevate Charm TV’s programming, including launching new platforms during the COVID-19 shutdown.

“While those who serve in the Office of the Mayor serve at the ‘will’ of the mayor, there should be regard for the commitment of those individuals motivated to also serve this city and to bring their professional competencies to bear in improving the lives and prospects of its residents,” she wrote. “Sadly, this regard hasn’t been demonstrated in my case.”

Parrott could not be reached Monday for comment. He only was promoted to the job of leading the mayor’s equity and civil rights office a few months ago. On his city webpage, it still reads: “Photo and bio coming soon!” His city salary for fiscal year 2019, prior to taking his new job, was about $95,000.

City Council President Brandon Scott, the Democratic nominee for mayor, said he was not consulted on the personnel moves. He said he only learned Monday that Parrott was gone.

He said he can’t comment on the decisions without knowing why the mayor made these choices, but intends to ask Young for a meeting to discuss it.

“No one came to me and said, ‘We’re firing person A, B and C,‘” Scott said.

Scott is Young’s likely successor, but he still needs to win November’s general election against Republican Shannon Wright and independent Bob Wallace to get the job. In deep-blue Baltimore, the Democratic primary typically decides the next mayor.

Scott said repeatedly during the primary campaign that he would take a hard look at every agency head to build the right team for his administration. Within the cabinet, there are nine mayoral office directors and 18 department and agency leaders.

For now, Scott said Monday, “there’s one mayor at a time.”

The city’s next leader will have several key holes to fill.

In addition to Friday’s departures, senior Young aide Lester Davis announced earlier this month he was leaving to take a job with a Washington-based consulting firm. He was chief of both communications and government relations.

Sheryl Goldstein, an experienced government official who oversaw city operations, also resigned shortly after the primary.

And several cabinet-level positions are filled by officials in an “acting” capacity, including the city solicitor and the directors for the offices of public works and emergency management.

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