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The Dripby Fern Shen6:15 pmDec 20, 20160

Graziano, resigning, gets six-figure payout

Oft-criticized bureaucrat finally calls it a day

Above: Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano chairing a meeting of the Journey Home board, which handles homelessness issues. (Fern Shen)

In announcing the resignation of Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano today, Mayor Catherine Pugh also disclosed that the embattled commissioner will receive a six-figure payment as he goes out the door.

“A total of about a $116,524 obligation by the city of Baltimore,” Pugh told reporters who were summoned on short notice to a City Hall news conference.

That payment, for accrued sick and vacation time over a 16-year career in city government, isn’t all Graziano will receive. The 62-year-old department head is also due a pension, which city officials were unable to disclose today.

In addition to his city payment (“I wouldn’t call it a golden parachute,” Pugh said in answer to a reporter’s question), Graziano will be receiving a federal government settlement check.

That’s because in addition to heading the city Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), Graziano headed the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC), an agency of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD officials have so far declined to disclose what his payment will be.

Graziano’s pay as the head of the two agencies had long been a subject of speculation and was officially described as $220,000.

Pugh came armed to today’s news conference with details of his separation pay from the city down to the penny. His final check, she said, results from a $97,077.61 payment for 160 days of unused vacation time, plus $19,446 for 32 personal days.

Magnet for Criticism

Calls for Graziano’s resignation dated back well before Pugh was elected mayor in November.

Allegations that maintenance workers demanded sex for repairs and poor conditions in public housing complexes were among the issues behind community leaders and housing advocates’ demands for his ouster.

She said Graziano’s departure represents an opportunity to split the two agencies he headed and improve community development in Baltimore.

“Just 10 days into my administration, I am keeping one of my central pledges to the people of Baltimore, to reinvigorate both these agencies with a renewed sense of urgency in meeting the critical housing needs in Baltimore,” she said.

The media spotlight today over Graziano’s departure were unusual gestures for a City Hall more accustomed to officials “disappearing” via late afternoon press releases.

Graziano’s last day will be January 6. Pugh said she will conduct a national search for a replacement.

Until the position is filled, his top deputy, Michael Braverman, will be serve as interim commissioner.

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