City spending board approves De Sousa’s contract, 6 new communications jobs in mayor’s office

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Mayor Catherine Pugh’s office is bolstering its ranks for handling press, social media and other communications-related work.

Baltimore’s Board of Estimates this morning approved six new communications jobs in or directly under the supervision of the mayor’s office: a deputy communications director, a press secretary, a press officer, two social media strategists and a research assistant. The combined cost of the new positions ranges from $319,000 to nearly $511,000, based on their salary ranges.

An additional marketing chief position earn between $94,000 and $156,000 in salary, though it’s unclear if that job would be communications-related.

The Baltimore Brew first reported the mayor’s office’s plans to hire the half-dozen communications position under Pugh’s supervision. Amanda Rodrigues-Smith, a spokeswoman for Pugh, told the website three of the jobs would be housed in the mayor’s office, while three others would be in “offices that the mayor directly supervises,” according to the publication. Their titles could “evolve to different functional titles” over time, Rodrigues-Smith said.

Pugh’s office has devoted more attention to press coverage this year than before. Earlier this month, the mayor chided reporters for quoting her talking about how she hadn’t been following coverage of the Gun Trace Task Force trial, saying her comments were taken out of context. Later that week, she said the city has a “press problem” while speaking at a Baltimore magazine event, accusing reporters of practicing “gotcha” journalism. She then dialed it back in an interview with Fox 45’s Paul Gessler, saying she thinks “the media is doing what it’s supposed to do, is report the news.”

At an announcement of Light City’s musical headliners last week, Pugh and others fixated on one particular headline from USA Today that dubbed Baltimore the “nation’s most dangerous city.” The mayor has been pushing back against that label, noting a recent statistical drop in violent crime–including homicides and non-fatal shootings–to start off the year.

In January, the Board of Estimates signed off on Pugh’s hiring of $240-per-hour media consultant Gregory Tucker. What followed was a social media push for Pugh and a series of videos highlighting her work around town.

The board this morning also approved an employment agreement for newly instated Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa, which included his $210,000 salary, roughly the same amount as his predecessor, Kevin Davis.

In a change, the board approved a $22,000 raise, from $158,000 to $180,000, for the position of deputy police commissioner. There are now two deputies instead of three in De Sousa’s reorganized department, “which will result in the redistribution of responsibilities,” according to the board agenda.

Ethan McLeod
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