Inside City Hall
Baltimore’s chief human capital officer abruptly resigns
Mary Talley, who enjoyed a pricey hotel stay in Chicago, confirms she has left the Pugh administration
Above: Mary Talley speaks to the Board of Estimates following a 2017 audit critical of her department’s performance. (Charm TV)
Taxpayers won’t be footing any more $429-a-night hotel stays by Mary H. Talley.
The director of human resources and chief human capital officer – who, at $202,000 a year, was one of the highest paid members of Mayor Catherine Pugh’s cabinet – resigned and left her post last Friday, Talley confirmed to The Brew today.
“Yes, I did resign,” she said, but added that she was “not comfortable” discussing her decision to leave city government.
“I think you take information out of context and you write inaccurate stories,” she said when reached by telephone.
Talley was the subject of a recent Brew article describing more than $13,000 in general funds she spent to attend a human resources management conference in Chicago with two staff members.
Talley stayed at a hotel that was 50% above the recommended price that the city uses for hotel accommodations in Chicago – and double the allowable lodging rate for federal government employees.
Talley ran the HR department for just under four years. Hired as deputy director in 2012, she was promoted to director in September 2014 after the brief (two-year, two-month) reign of Ronnie Charles.
Previously, she had worked as a human resources officer at the Fox Broadcasting Company, including at its Chicago and Washington, D.C. affiliate stations, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Last October, Talley came under criticism in an audit of her department.
She admitted to the Board of Estimates that HR relied on computer software that was so cumbersome and obsolete that many key personnel functions were still performed by pen and paper.
The audit specifically found that HR:
• failed to fill vacancies in a timely manner.
• lagged behind in determining job reclassifications and salary changes.
• was often unaware of the status of employees who had entered counseling programs for substance abuse, alcoholism, anger management and other issues.
Talley blamed the problems on the computer system and staff shortages.
She said the agency was in the “development stages” of installing a new computer system and needed at least five new staff positions. She pledged to have a “paperless” operation by 2020.
The department, which currently has about 70 full-time employees, handles health benefits, leave time and other personnel matters for 12,000 non-uniform employees.
In a memo circulated around City Hall, Mayor Pugh said that Talley informed her “last week that she has decided to depart City government in order to pursue other opportunities.”
The mayor “has expressed gratitude for Talley’s many contributions,” the memo states, singling out Work Baltimore, an annual convention that seeks to connect job seekers with city employers.
The position of HR director will remain vacant as “the process to identify Ms. Talley’s successor is underway,” the memo added.
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