The rhetoric may be about change (“the status quo cannot continue,” Mayor Brandon Scott declared in his swearing-in speech last week), but his administrative actions so far exemplify continuity and caution.
There’s been no shakeup in city government, and no resignations of agency heads or cabinet members announced by the new mayor.
A few key personnel, such as Kimberly Morton, Jack Young’s powerful chief of staff, left voluntarily last month, while others (Housing Commissioner Michael Braverman and Public Works Director Rudy Chow) were fired or let go earlier by the outgoing mayor.
Yesterday, Scott further strengthened his links to his predecessor by promoting and retaining two key members of Young’s inner circle – Daniel Ramos and Olivia “Sunny” Schnitzer.
Ramos, who is just seven years out of college, was named deputy chief administrator, a position made possible by voter approval last month of “Question K,” a charter amendment mandating two city administrator positions to assist the mayor in handling day-to-day operations.
Scott has the full power to appoint (and fire) the chief and deputy administrators. He exercised the former by picking Christopher J. Shorter, a D.C. government bureaucrat who recently served two years as an assistant city manager in Austin, Texas, as city administrator.
As Shorter’s deputy, Ramos continues his remarkable ascent up the city hierarchy since graduating from Johns Hopkins University with a BA in international relations.
Right out of Hopkins in 2013, Ramos was hired as an operations research analyst at the Fire Department, where he created “models, metrics, budget and narrative for BCFD’s proposal to restructure EMS,” according to his LinkedIn profile.
Two years later, in 2015, he was named assistant director at the Department of Social Services, managing “a staff of 14 data/GIS analysts and quality assurance personnel.”
From there, he jumped to the budget office, serving as deputy director not long after the departure of Andrew Kleine. But his big promotion took place last June when he replaced Sheryl Goldstein as deputy chief of staff for operations.
Hired at $53,900 in 2013, he now pulls down a salary of $180,400, according to the city’s online salary database and Scott’s office.
His salary as deputy city administrator will remain the same, Scott’s office said today.
Another Rapid Rise
Schnitzer’s career climb has been equally rapid.
A graduate of St. Mary’s College (the alma mater of the new mayor), Schnitzer worked for nearly five years as a research associate at the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) in Washington, an organization with sustained influence over command choices at the police department. (PERF’s current chairman is Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison.)
In January 2016, she was named deputy director of the Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, only to leave 13 months later at the start of Catherine Pugh’s administration.
She joined Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit group started by ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which seeks an end to gun violence by year 2021.
Schnitzer worked for Everytown for nearly three years before she was hired back by Mayor Young in 2019 as deputy chief of staff for public safety at a salary of $175,000 a year – or nearly twice her prior $92,500 pay.
Scott’s office said she currently earns $202,256.
Praise from Mayor
During Schnitzer’s 18 months as Young’s public safety coordinator and advisor, Baltimore witnessed a continued surge of homicides that prompted criticism from Scott as City Council president and as a mayoral candidate.
On Twitter yesterday, Scott praised the two inherited staffers as “dedicated public servants” and they, in turn, said they were “super excited and proud” (Ramos) and “so honored to be able to serve Baltimore City” (Schnitzer).
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