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by Mark Reutter9:45 amMay 30, 20190

Young seeks private-sector volunteers in city government

Not yet disclosed by mayor’s office: Will there be safeguards against potential conflicts and insider information?

Above: Allyse Depenbrock will serve as a go-between for private-sector input to city agencies. (LinkedIn)

A freshly-minted graduate of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will help run a new mayoral program to seek the expertise of the private sector about how to run Baltimore government.

The Board of Estimates approved a nine-month, $82,000 contract to Allyse Depenbrock to manage the Office of Civic Innovation to be established under Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young.

The office’s purpose was described yesterday as identifying and organizing private-sector volunteers who would be “loaned” to city agencies.

Such volunteers would come from the fields of “consulting, technology, finance and real estate,” according to the board’s agenda.

Depenbrock, who previously promoted U.S. Forest Service icon Smokey Bear for the Ad Council in Washington, pledged to build the Civic Innovation “brand” through “identifying ways to market it and leverage corporate participation to strengthen the reputation and reach of the program.”

Unanswered Questions

If Depenbrock’s job sounds vague, her salary is not. It was set yesterday at an hourly rate of $56.94, totaling $82,000 through February 2019.

The contract was approved without comment by City Council President Brandon M. Scott, Comptroller Joan Pratt, DPW Director Rudy Chow and City Solicitor Andre Davis. Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young abstained.

According to Lester Davis, the mayor’s spokesman, the office was proposed by local business leaders to former Mayor Catherine Pugh. She liked the idea, which had been in the works for about six months before she resigned on May 3.

Yesterday’s item did not describe any safeguards in place to guard against possible conflicts of interest by private-sector volunteers who might gain inside information about an agency’s internal affairs or knowledge about future contracts.

Davis has not responded to questions about how the office would deal with such issues.

A graduate of UCLA, Depenbrock received a master of public health degree from Hopkins this month. Her specialty was in statistical methods, health impact assessment and program evaluation.

During her one-year stint as a graduate student, she volunteered at Banner Neighborhoods in East Baltimore, conducting a client satisfaction survey, according to her Linkedin page.

Family Success

This is the second initiative established by Young in his first month in office. In mid-May, he announced the creation of the Office of Children & Family Success.

Tisha Edwards – Pugh’s former chief of staff and interim City Schools CEO – was named the office’s executive director.

Davis said the salary for Edwards, who started work on May 20, has not been determined. She was paid handsomely ($190,000 a year) during her brief tenure under Pugh.

Edwards’ task is to establish public-private partnerships and identify innovative opportunities to support young people and their families.

The start-up date for getting some of the programs underway is the beginning of the next fiscal year on July 1.

“I have always been a champion for Baltimore’s young people, and during my mayoral administration, I will continue to make it a priority to put children first,” Young said in announcing the office.

The youth office is not to be confused with the $12 million Children and Youth Fund, advocated by Young when he was president of the City Council, which is currently administrated by Associated Black Charities.

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