Md. lawmakers issue subpoenas
Hogan’s ex-chief of staff queried over six-figure payout
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.
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.”