Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh is growing her office with 20 new positions, to improve and expand city services to various communities Pugh says.
“I need people to understand how our city operates,” Pugh said during a press conference March 1. “Our city is 24 hours. So, that means you need people out there 24 hours, dealing with some of the problems the city is facing.”
The Baltimore Sun reports that Pugh has augmented the budget for her office to $8.6 million, an increase of $1.6 million over last year.
The mayor said the positions would be distributed throughout various divisions of her administration including, media and communications, neighborhood liaisons and employment development. The Board of Estimates unanimously approved the addition of the 20 positions Feb. 28.
According to Pugh, several of the positions will be utilized to serve the city’s burgeoning homeless population. “Homelessness is a major issue,” she said. “We don’t just move people off of the street, we have conversations, we do surveys, we try to locate places where they can go, we try to accommodate them. And so, it requires more than one person.”
One of the more high-profile positions will be filled by Dr. Andrey Bundley, a man intimately familiar with the inner workings of city government and politics, who has mentored young Black males for many years.
Pugh has tapped Bundley to lead the newly created Office of African American Male Engagement, a position that could pay him as much as $155,000. A respected leader among many in the Black community for several years, Bundley first gained public attention in the 1990’s as the principal of what was then the troubled Walbrook High School Uniform Services Academy, in West Baltimore.
Bundley left his position as a safety director for Baltimore City Public Schools last month, to take the new position. According to the Mayor’s office, the new effort, which will expand mentoring services for Black boys vulnerable to crime and violence, is modeled after the Philadelphia Office of Black Male Engagement. It also echoes President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.
Bundley, has worked for several years specifically mentoring and engaging young Black males, drawing upon his own challenging Baltimore childhood, which included foster care. Bundley also has experience confronting a political power structure that has sometimes seemed hostile to young Black men. In 2003, when he ran for mayor of Baltimore against then Mayor Martin O’Malley, Bundley was arrested, handcuffed and detained by a Baltimore police officer (allegedly for failing to obey a lawful order), when he was distributing campaign flyers near a Baltimore nightclub.
Bundley was not formally charged, but the incident was cited as an example of the problems with zero tolerance policing policy, which unconstitutionally targeted communities of color, according to the Department of Justice.