On May 1, Chezia T. Cager was forced to quit as the chief of staff for Mayor Brandon Scott.
Her name disappeared from the city’s website and other sources of government information. On May 4, Scott announced that his former campaign manager, Marvin James, had taken over her position as interim COS.
But five weeks after her ouster, Cager remains on the city payroll, collecting her full $225,000-a-year salary, The Brew has learned.
“She is still very much on her salary because she was never fired,” explained one of three sources who confirmed her status.
She currently has no staff or line responsibilities – and hasn’t been seen around City Hall for weeks.
When Mayor Scott announced on May 4 four new appointments to his office, including a new COS, he never mentioned Cager’s status or confirmed media reports that she had been asked to leave.
Instead, payroll records indicate that she was placed on a three-week leave of absence. Scott reportedly gave her the option to take a job elsewhere in the administration, but she refused.
“She is going to be transitioning into another role in the mayor’s office. They’re just working out a start date and stuff like that,” The Brew was told.
She did not respond to an email request for an interview today.
A Related Firing
Cager stepped down from the COS job after news surfaced that the mayor’s new communications director was terminated.
Cirilo Manego had been hired in February at Cager’s urging, but reportedly was unable to do his job to the mayor’s satisfaction.
Rarely available to the media, Manego had failed to produce speeches for Scott and reportedly was doing outside work as a consultant. (Manego never submitted a new employee entry statement, disclosing any outside employment or interests, to the city Ethics Board.)
His desk was clear on May 1, his resignation effective immediately. He told WBAL-TV he would be working for a D.C. consulting firm.
Over the same period, Cager’s ability to steer the mayor through political crosswinds was sorely tested.
Scott and his new city solicitor, Ebony Thompson, got a loud public thrashing from City Council members, Council President Nick Mosby and Comptroller Bill Henry for the conduit deal they made with Baltimore Gas & Electric (here and here).
The rebukes persisted when a Council committee initially voted down the mayor’s candidate, Faith Leach, to replace Christopher Shorter as city administrator.
“The most basic job of the COS is to protect the mayor and make sure the votes are there in the Council. Chezia didn’t, or simply couldn’t, do it,” said a knowledgeable source.
Cager appeared to be insulated by her relationship with Caylin Young.
Despite these setbacks, Cager appeared to be insulated by her relationship with Caylin Young.
A longtime friend and pickup basketball buddy of the mayor, Young ran legislative affairs when Scott was City Council president.
He is now deputy director at the Office of Equity and Civil Rights as well as a delegate from the 45th District, Scott’s political home base.
Given these connections, Cager’s dismissal last month as COS came as a surprise. And her continued presence in the mayor’s office suggests that a low-profile, well-paid future lies comfortably ahead.