Mayor Brandon Scott’s spokesman has been removed from his job – nine weeks after he started it – while the mayor’s chief of staff has been put on leave.
These actions, The Brew has learned, stem from complaints that Cirilo R. Manego III, director of communications, was performing work at his consulting firm during city working hours, and Chezia T. Cager, his boss and chief of staff, did not take steps to stop it.
Neither Manego nor Cager responded today to email and phone messages seeking comment.
The pair’s ouster from high-paid positions – Manego was earning over $3,000 a week and Cager more than $4,300 – occurred quickly.
Late on Friday afternoon, Manego was in brief email communications with a Brew reporter. Early this afternoon, the Baltimore Banner reported that his City Hall office was empty and he was gone. This was followed by a Baltimore Sun report that Cager was also being demoted.
So far, there has been no announcement of the personnel changes by Mayor Scott or by City Administrator Faith Leach, who has privately expressed frustration with Cager’s recent dealings with the City Council.
Cager was reported to be at work this morning, but by this afternoon, she was listed as “on leave” for 13 days. The Sun reported that both were being offered alternative positions in city government.
When hired as Scott’s third communications director in three years, Manego headed The Manego Group, a tiny D.C. consultancy handling government relations for utilities and dabbling in progressive politics.
It is unclear whether Manego cut his ties to the business because he never filed a financial disclosure statement with the city Board of Ethics. (He had 90 days to file, but was ousted as communications director on day 69.)
Both Manego and Cager are still in their six-month probationary periods, which means they can be fired for no reason.
Manego had no background in journalism and noted in his LinkedIn profile that his role as a consultant, voter rights activist and public policy analyst was “to help tell the untold, under-reported and misrepresented stories of Black people.”
During his brief tenure as spokesman, Manego was largely invisible at City Hall and interacted infrequently with the media.
Cager’s ascent to the COS job – traditionally one of the most powerful positions in city government – was forged by her political connections and those of her father, developer Lawrence “Chris” Cager Jr., in the local Democratic Party.
“People saw her as someone who knows Baltimore and has been active as a committee member,” a source told The Brew, referring to her role as a past member of the 41st District Democratic Central Committee.
She also passed muster in the 45th Legislative District, which forms Scott’s political base, whose top leaders were asked by the mayor’s office to vet potential candidates for the COS position.
Last summer, her public relations firm, Nidia Chez LLC, picked up $3,000 in consulting fees from Caylin A. Young, deputy director of the Baltimore Office of Equity and Civil Rights, who was elected a delegate from the 45th District.
In recent court records, Cager describes Young as “my significant other.”