Baltimore Sun

Md. law­mak­ers is­sue sub­poe­nas

Ho­gan’s ex-chief of staff queried over six-fig­ure pay­out

- By Pamela Wood

Mary­land state law­mak­ers is­sued sub­poe­nas for Gov. Larry Ho­gan’s for­mer chief of staff and an­other man to ap­pear in two weeks be­fore a com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gat­ing his six-fig­ure pay­out from his prior job at a state agency.

The sub­poe­nas were is­sued Thurs­day to Roy McGrath, the for­mer chief of staff, and Matthew Sher­ring, who worked for Mc

Grath at the Mary­land En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vice. They re­quire both men to ap­pear be­fore the Gen­eral Assem­bly’s Joint Com­mit­tee on Fair Prac­tices and Per­son­nel Over­sight on Oct. 29.

The sub­poe­nas also seek nu­mer­ous doc­u­ments from McGrath and Sher­ring.

McGrath left his po­si­tion as the Repub­li­can gov­er­nor’s top aide in Au­gust, four days af­ter The Bal­ti­more Sun re­ported he ne­go­ti­ated a pay­out worth more than $238,000 when he left the Mary­land En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vice ear­lier in the sum­mer.

The Sun sub­se­quently re­ported that McGrath and other ex­ec­u­tives earned tens of thou­sands of dol­lars in an­nual bonuses, and that he was paid more than $55,000 in ex­pense re­im­burse­ments for ex­ten­sive travel, meet­ings and meals af­ter he left the agency.

Sher­ring was re­im­bursed more t han $14,000 for pay­ing for an on­line Har­vard Univer­sity course that McGrath took this year.

The pay­ments at Mary­land En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vice, an in­de­pen­dent state agency largely funded with lo­cal and state gov­ern­ment tax dol­lars, drew the at­ten­tion of state law­mak­ers. A

Gen­eral Assem­bly over­sight com­mit­tee has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing the pay­ments re­ceived by McGrath, but they’ve been frus­trated that he has de­clined to ap­pear be­fore law­mak­ers.

“The picture is not clear. We’re miss­ing Mr. McGrath,” said Del. Erek Bar­ron, a Prince Ge­orge’s County Demo­crat, when law­mak­ers voted Sept. 23 to is­sue sub­poe­nas.

In ad­di­tion to or­der­ing McGrath and Sher­ring to ap­pear be­fore the com­mit­tee, the sub­poe

out­reach worker. That per­son will hit the streets, make calls and send texts when the team learns one of the young men on its list might be in trou­ble or in dan­ger of hurt­ing some­one.

Us­ing re­fer­rals from city po­lice, ju­ve­nile ser­vices, pub­lic de­fend­ers and oth­ers, Roca iden­ti­fies the young men who need help. Work­ers then talk with them, work with them to help them un­der­stand that what they think, feel and do are three dif­fer­ent things, so they can un­der­stand and con­sider their ac­tions be­fore they take them.

The state Depart­ment of Ju­ve­nile Ser­vices sees Roca as an “es­sen­tial” and a “valu­able part­ner” in reach­ing young peo­ple and having a pos­i­tive im­pact on their lives and pub­lic safety, ac­cord­ing to Betsy Fox To­lentino, the agency’s as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of com­mu­nity op­er­a­tions.

It’s not a fast fix. Roca reaches out to the men by show­ing up — re­peat­edly — on their doorsteps or call­ing their moth­ers, grand­moth­ers and girl­friends.

Over the next year, Roca plans to work with at least 175 young men, in­creas­ing to 225 by the sum­mer of 2022, ac­cord­ing to the group. Right now, 135 young men are en­rolled in the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s cog­ni­tive be­hav­ioral ther­apy and em­ploy­ment train­ing pro­grams. The goal was to serve 175 by July 1, but their ef­forts were hin­dered by the pan­demic.

Here are more high­lights about Roca.

Two men work­ing to change their lives

De­An­dre Chase, 23, Sand­townWinch­ester, West Bal­ti­more

When­ever he’s got a lit­tle free time, De­An­dre Chase said he pulls out a stack of fliers for his busi­ness, “Dre’s Lawn Ser­vice,” and hangs them on light poles around the city.

Chase never thought he’d be cut­ting grass and giv­ing up the $20,000 to $30,000 he said he used to make sell­ing drugs over a long week­end.

“I was liv­ing a crazy life,” he said. “I was run­ning around in the streets do­ing all kind of stuff, I won’t lie to you. But sell­ing drugs was the num­ber one thing.”

When Chase came home from jail in 2018 af­ter he served time for gun pos­ses­sion, Roca’s out­reach work­ers came to his house again and again (and again). What sold him on join­ing was their con­sis­tency, “the love they were show­ing me,” he said.

“They were let­ting me know they were

go­ing to be here for the next four years.”

Roca helped him get a job with Ev­er­green Land­scape & De­sign Corp. Chase said he liked the land­scap­ing work so he bought some of his own equip­ment and a gold Acura SUV to haul it.

Chase said Roca taught him that life was big­ger than Gil­mor Homes, where he was raised. His dream is to take some other young broth­ers from the projects and show them what he sees now.

“They taught mehowto be a man,” Chase said. “I’m a young Black brother push­ing for great­ness.”

Ed­ward Brooks, 25, grew up near McElderry Park, East Bal­ti­more

Ed­ward Brooks used to carry a gun. He said it made him feel safe. Then, he said, he de­cided he wanted to stay alive. He stopped car­ry­ing the gun. And joined Roca.

That was more than a year ago. He now has a job with the Mid­town Com­mu­nity Ben­e­fits Dis­trict beau­ti­fy­ing neigh­bor­hoods.

It’s the only work he’s done where peo­ple tell him he is ap­pre­ci­ated, he said. His

crim­i­nal back­ground made it hard for him to find le­git­i­mate work with­out Roca’s help.

The ther­apy Brooks re­ceived at Roca helps. He said it’s given him some­one to vent to about all the thoughts and fears he’s bot­tled up for so long.

It’s helped him think about the con­se­quences of his ac­tions and to ask him­self, “How are you feel­ing?”

Brooks said he has found a rea­son to live now that he has a 2-year-old daugh­ter. He moved from East Bal­ti­more to Es­sex and is work­ing on get­ting his GED and driver’s li­cense. Next, he wants to buy a house and make a ca­reer driv­ing trucks.

“If I con­tinue do­ing what I need to do, what I am sup­posed to do, can’t noth­ing stop me,” Brooks said. “I’ll con­tinue to grow. Roca keeps you safe.”

By the num­bers

In the last year, Roca has:

Sent out­reach work­ers to knock on doors, called at-risk young men and their fam­i­lies and vis­ited them 15,890 times.

■ Helped the young men work11,396 hours on tran­si­tional jobs in the city.

■ Re­ceived 198 re­fer­rals from var­i­ous agen­cies to work with Bal­ti­more’s high­est risk young men.

What’s next?

Roca founder and CEO Molly Bald­win said she is gravely con­cerned about how the pan­demic and eco­nomic fall­out might lock the young men her or­ga­ni­za­tion serves out of the job mar­ket.

That’s why Roca is work­ing with them to get the skills, cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and ed­u­ca­tion cre­den­tials to help them bet­ter com­pete for jobs they can build their lives around.

Bald­win said it all starts with cog­ni­tive be­hav­ioral ther­apy, of­ten ad­min­is­tered on stoops and side­walks around the city. Out­reach work­ers — us­ing cards with sim­ple il­lus­tra­tions that show the dif­fer­ence be­tween think­ing, feel­ing and do­ing — help the young men break down the sit­u­a­tions they find them­selves in and de­cide how to re­spond.

“Peo­ple can change,” Bald­win said. “Our brains can change.”

 ??  ?? McGrath
McGrath
 ?? KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ?? De­An­dre Chase, 23, works for Ev­er­green Land­scape & De­sign Corp.
KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN De­An­dre Chase, 23, works for Ev­er­green Land­scape & De­sign Corp.

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