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Politicsby Mark Reutter8:45 pmMar 26, 20180

Mayor to pay media strategist Tucker $150,000

He’s been charged with helping Mayor Pugh “change the narrative” about Baltimore

Above: Public relations specialist Gregory Tucker has gotten his contract extended. (wypr.org)

Gregory Tucker, Mayor Catherine Pugh’s media guru, is being offered $150,000 to work 25 hours a week over the next year.

The contract, disclosed today in the Board of Estimates agenda, includes an option of extending it for a second year, making the agreement worth $300,000.

Tucker was tapped by the mayor in January to help her create a “new narrative” about Baltimore following a record-high number of homicides, police corruption revealed by the Gun Trace Task Force trial, unheated public schools with bursting pipes and the still-unresolved death of detective Sean Suiter.

With Tucker’s three-month contract ending on Saturday, the mayor has requested a long-term pact with The Tucker Group (owned and run by Tucker) because “strategic consultation and tactical services for communications and the media remains [sic] necessary.”

Because Pugh controls three of the five board votes, the new agreement is sure to be ratified at the Wednesday meeting.

Tucker is contracted to work an average of 25 hours a week through March 2019, but to be available to the mayor “24 hours per day, seven days a week.”

He will work at $111 per hour, for a total compensation of $144,300, according to the agreement, with an additional allowance of $5,700 for expenses.

Because the mayor controls three of the five board votes, the new agreement is sure to be ratified at Wednesday’s meeting.

His previous contract awarded him $240 an hour, making it one of the most generous consultant agreements in city government.

In helping Pugh forge a new narrative, Tucker has been at her side during staff meetings and at public events. The video depicting a day in the life of the mayor that showed her yelling at a “squeegee boy” washing car windows during school hours was released after Tucker joined her media team.

James Bentley, a spokesman for Mayor Pugh, said in an email to The Brew that Tucker “has nothing to do with videos of the mayor.”

He has helped produce op-eds outlining the mayor’s vision for Baltimore, calling on limitations on assault weapons, advocating for neighborhood development, and lauding Saturday’s March For Our Lives in Washington.

The mayor’s profile on national television has also been elevated, with mixed results.

Tucker was instrumental in the push for six more communications members in the mayor’s office, including social media officers and new press secretaries, at a cost of more than $500,000. Those positions were approved by the spending board four weeks ago.

Tucker describes himself as a specialist in reputational positioning, strategic identity, change management and leadership communications.

Less successful has been Tucker’s aid in helping Pugh find a permanent press spokesman. (Last November, Anthony McCarthy resigned as head of her Office of Communications.)

Pugh announced the appointment of Darryl Strange two weeks ago, but within hours Strange handed in his resignation after The Sun reported his involvement in several lawsuits during his career as a Baltimore police officer.

Tucker and Pugh separately acknowledged that Strange had not been “thoroughly” vetted.

Tucker describes himself as a public relations professional with a 30-year track record. Most recently, he was senior vice president and head of America corporate communications for insurance giant Transamerica.

On his LinkedIn page, Tucker, 55, describes his “areas of practice” as strategic identity, reputational positioning, crisis communications, digital/social media, leadership communications and change management.

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