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Rockville HR Director calls it quits

Mayor says acting city manager gave inadequate notice of embattled director's resignation

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Published on: Wednesday, June 06, 2012

By Christa Puccio

ROCKVILLE – As an independent investigation continues into allegations of racial, sexual and age discrimination among members of the city’s management staff, one of those managers has decided to walk away from the city.

Carlos Vargas, the Chief Human Resources Officer of the city, called it quits on Friday. Though Acting City Manager Jennifer Kimball said Vargas resigned on May 11, Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio said she and other members of the council were unaware of his resignation until June 2, the day following his departure.

“Carlos Vargas resigned on May 11 by meeting with me and providing me with a formal letter of resignation,” said Kimball.  “Department heads report to the city manager and tender their resignations to the city manager. The city manager notifies the Mayor and Council and others in the organization. The city manager is also responsible for appointing an employee(s) to serve in an interim role. The acting city manager notified the Mayor and Council on June 2, and formally notified the organization of Mr. Vargas’ departure on June 4.”

According to the city’s policies and procedures, division head level employees must give 30 days written notice to leave the City in good standing, but Vargas left the city 22 days after he gave notice of his resignation. “I don’t think it makes any difference if he had given a two-week or a 30 day notice, the fact is we should have known,” said Marcuccio.  “This is a time of flux in the city where we’re hiring a new city manager, we have an investigation in progress and we have staff that is nervous, these are delicate times and we should be as open and forthcoming as we can.”

In addition, the city’s policies and procedures require that employees receive notice of an exit interview and receive instruction as to their rights and privileges concerning benefits.  The mayor said she asked acting city manager, Jennifer Kimball, if this procedure was followed, but did not receive a response back from Kimball.  

“It is a standard business practice that a manager would inform their superiors that someone under them is turning in their resignation and planning to make an exit,” said Drew Powell, a civic activist.  “I believe it is un-conscionable that the mayor and council were not given the ability given the lack of information to give an exit interview.  After all, Mr. Vargas appears to be involved in the employee scandal."

According to Powell, Kimball not informing the Mayor and Council of Vargas’ resignation until after his departure is “not an accepted practice.”  “To not notify your superiors of a department head’s resignation until 23 days later and after he has already left, that’s totally ridiculous and unacceptable,” said Powell.  “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that that’s not an accepted practice.  If she did that at a Fortune 500 Company she would be called out on her actions.”

Meanwhile Kimball said Vargas already has another job.  “Carlos Vargas has resigned his position as Chief Human Resources Officer to assume a position at a non-profit organization,” Kimball said in a statement Tuesday. “Carlos has been a dedicated employee of the City of Rockville for five years, and we wish him well in his new endeavor.  Among his many contributions to Rockville are: the improvement of our benefits administration, the implementation of cost containment measures and improved worker safety.  The new City Manager will initiate the search for a Chief Human Resources Officer.”

A former councilmember was also surprised by Vargas’ departure.  “It is certainly a very, very unique situation,” said Former Councilmember Anne Mahoney Robbins.  “I was stunned at the way it happened, that Ms. Kimball didn’t tell the mayor and council.  I mean after all there’s an investigation going on and it would seem to me that her loyalty should be to the mayor and council since she’s the acting city manager.  Many mayors and council members I have known would never tolerate this.  There’s something very, very wrong here because of the way it’s being handled.  The situation is in such a mess and this just adds to it.  People know about this and they can’t understand what’s going on.”

Vargas is the second department director to resign since Rockville hired Saul Ewing LLP to investigate employees’ claims of discrimination, harassment, tampering of personnel files and employee evaluation, and illegal disclosure of medical information.  Burt Hall, former director of Recreation and Parks, also resigned last month.

Marcuccio said the outside investigation probably had some effect on Vargas and his department.

“If all of the angst that we’re feeling about the investigation is going to come back, it’s going to go back sooner or later to the human services department,” said Marcuccio.  “It wouldn’t be surprising that anyone in that job would be a little worried.  I mean you have to remember, if you’re the director of human resources, then you’re going to be one of those people that people will go to in a crisis.”

According to Kimball, Colette Anthony is serving as the acting director of the Human Resources Department.

Meanwhile, the city’s upheaval continues in light of the continuing investigation.

“When we’re in a delicate phase like this where we need a new city manager, we currently have an investigation going on and we have a staff that’s nervous, these are things you should stabilize,” Marcuccio said.

Marcuccio and other members of the council said they are anxious to hear of the outcome of the ongoing investigation.

“I don’t even know if it’s going well or if it’s going poorly or if there’re a lot of folks, I don’t even know that – I wish I did,” Marcuccio said.

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Reader Comments - 10 Total

captcha 3c0fcfbbf869488784463fc9d3f94c24

Posted By: J.T Milnerson On: 6/8/2012


Had computer issues so this posting may be a duplicate. Let's hope not.
Who the heck does this woman report to? Sounds like Ullery is still calling the shots in city hall. How dare little miss Kimball not notify her bosses! I am so damn sick of hearing nothing but cover up excuses that the city manager hires and fires and these people report to the city manager.If I were the mayor and council Ms. Kimball would be leaving city hall with an escort. Her property would be carried out to the public way right in front of Ms. Putico and the news cameras.
Vargas jumps ship right in the middle of Saul Ewing investigation. The mayor and council are informed 22 days after he shreds paperwork and cleans out his desk. Sort of like covering up a prision break in my opnion.
I hope his computer remains untouched. Nah. You can bet the disk has been wiped clean and the PC has been reformatted by now. If this was a true investigation, his computer would have been impounded. These managers should have been placed on leave long ago pending the outcome of the investigation. But hey wait a minute....Kimball is the one who signed the contract for Saul Ewing and is the same person who will read the findings and would be the person to fire the other staff. Yeah right, Kimball will not fire anyone, but will go out of her way to protect them. The managers know exactly what was said in meetings about ridding the city of older staff to save the city money.
I bet these managers and Kimball have been taking lessons from old Tricky Dick "I'm not a crook" and getting rid of any evidence. Welcome to RockGate 2012!
How much worse will it get in Rockville? Where is Jerry Springer when we need him?
A bunch of us at the office have bet on who will be the next to leave. Right now the odds favor Susan Swift at around 20 to 1. One person thinks M.P. F the part time staffer will be next.
I hear the book makers at the new casino in AA County are interested in a new odds game called Spin the Jackboot Dictator. The wheel has each of their names and if the wheel stops on their name they are fired.
I want to sell dart boards to staff with pictures of their favorite manager.
These managers all need a good ole kick in the arse, and new jobs in Seria.

Posted By: John T. Brookings On: 6/7/2012

Title: Great point!

You can bet that after a month and a half that the abusive goons at city hall have had ample time to purge the system of any paperwork that could be used against them.
I also imagine that the accused have had enough time to get together and learn the same lies to tell to anyone asking questions.
Kimball has time and time again proven she cannot be trusted and is as guilty as the rest of the senior managers.
Protecting Vargas and his departure on May 11th should be suspect at best. Kimball did not want him to have an exit interview and possibly talk about specific orders. The laugh is on you Kimball, since Mr. Vargas can be subpoenaed by council for the plaintiffs. When he testifies I hope he sings like a parrot and repeats each and every nasty little detail of the agenda in the city.
I call for the immediate removal of Kimball form her position. This cannot wait till July or the hire of a new city manager.
It is a sad day indeed when the city manager cannot follow even a simple rule of providing 30 day's notice. Sounds like a breach of his employment contract with the city.

Posted By: conscientious objector On: 6/7/2012

Title: unconscionable

Why would the director of the human resources department which is under investigation be allowed to remain only active duty. He should have been placed on administrative leave and removed from any access to files or records as soon as he tendered his resignation.

Posted By: Capt Tugg. Toot toot On: 6/7/2012

Title: USS Rocville firmly grounded and the stench is getting worse.

Ahoy ye mates, the USS Rockville is a total wreck and salvage rights are going to be announced soon. It is time to drag the ole stinking derelict scow to dry dock for a complete rebuild, or possibly cut her up as she rest on the rocky shoals of Rockytown. I suggest cutting the scow up and rebuilding a brand new vessel one who can become a gleaming example of a ship dedicated to freedom and individual shipmate rights. BRING IN THE CUTTING TORCHES AND LETS GET IT DONE!

Clearly the old scow had some nasty trash in the cargo hole and the huge gashes in her bottom have been allowing the foul stench of corruption and cover up to ruin the coastline for sometime now.
The first mate Gilligan Kimball has failed in her duty to the crew and continues the policies of the former skipper who jumped ship. I cannot imagine why Gilligan does not advise her superiors about the departure of ole Vargas. I smell a mutiny at ole Rockytown and this must be quelled right now!
The maritime investigators are still gathering facts, but what we see is the entire leadership at Rockytown must be forced out. For the act
In most cases we would demand a Admirals mast, but the violations of Rockytown maritime law are just to many. So my shipmates we will be having a huge walk the plank party for all the remaining scallywags like Swift, Purkey, Berg and the likes.
Who shall be the first to walk the old plank?

Posted By: Francis Desoto > Once Again! On: 6/7/2012

Title: Fire Kimball now

Well not in my life could I imagine such disresprect for the people elected to represent us citizens. Kimball has followed in her mentors footsteps ahowing contenpt for her bosses.
To kill a serpent cut the head from the best and the rest dries up and turns to dust.
Kimball must be fired or forced out immediately!

Posted By: Dick Houston On: 6/7/2012

Title: Yippie

First Ullery, then Hall and Vargas. Now show the rest of the rotten buch the door.
The show is over time to fold up and get out!

Posted By: Chin Chaing On: 6/7/2012


Lets keep the ball rolling and sent the rest out the door with a swift sick. Oh the word/name Swift makes me sick after reading about the abuses in her department.
Let them all go to work at the crumbeling city on the hill consulting.
Finally, I suggest that Ms. Anthony step up to the plate while acting HR director and do the right thing for the staff at city hall.

Posted By: John Thompson Sr. On: 6/7/2012

Title: 3 down.

Shanks, Vargas and Hall left or leaving city.
This leaves Swift, Berg, Kimball, Susan F, Flarety, Cohen, Purkey, Ding, Chris Henry, Sokal to resign or be fired.
You stooges best leave now before the investigators depose each of you. Better to resign than be fired.
I hope you feel the cold chill of home and change blowing down yer neck so you cannot sleep.
The city is in serious condition and only a strong leeder will be able to bring the city back on track.
The managers listed below have proven they cannot be trusted with staff and need to be fired to shake tin cups at Gaithersburg city intersections.
I also hope the employees band together and sue each of you to include Shanks, Vargas and Hall personally.
A strong message is needed to tell any other clods looking to abuse staff you abuse we fire.
Kimball must appologise in Public for her transgressions against the M&C.
Iwant to know how Purkey

Posted By: Sandy Koons On: 6/7/2012

Title: What?

Sounds like someone else needs to go. Ms. Kimball ...honey that person would be you.
How arrogant can you be? I demand to see what that investigation contract stipulates. Kimball had something to do with the formation of the contract and will get to see what has been said. With her attitude i would bet she would cover up results and say the City Manager is responsible for the saff in city hall. Blah blah Blah. This BS comment needs to stop. Rockville has some serious issues and it is high time to rid the city of these useless managers and start fresh.
Honey (Kimball) it is time you take your prissy rear and find a new place to work. Maybe the DC council is hiring.

Posted By: John P. Henderson Sr. On: 6/7/2012


Every story we read gets worse for Rockville. If the governing authority did not exist people like Kimball would not have a job. Clearly after reading each and every story what we have is an arrogant management in city hall that thinks the mayor and council are nothing but figure heads. I suggest it is high time to start the firing process and fire Kimball immediately for dereliction of duty. I would also check to see what type of leave if any was used by Vargas.

I have been a Federal Civil Servant for 31 years and never have i read anything even close to the horror stories being published about the city. If any federal employee was accused multiple times like the staff both former and current have in these articles the manager of staff person would be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. in the City`of Rockville the managers are so critical to continue the cycle of abuse they are retained in full service to continue to flaunt their abuse each and every day.

I swear to God that the managers like that woman Susan Swift must be fired. Time and time again her damn name keeps on being cited, yet from what I read she just roams around without a care in the world.

I never used to watch the mayor and council meetings until after these articles started being published. Now I can see exactly what other posters mean when they say Gavin Cohen is the king of double talk. He evades questions with questions and never really answers anything.

The Monday night meeting was real interesting and I wanted to see exactly who some of the players looked like.
I watched in sheer amazement as Mr. Purkey spoke about the adoption of a new code. The poor guy must have spend hours in front of the mirror because he sounded like a robot repeating a programed speech.
He looked like a poor lost sheep away from the flock when council member Newton dared to ask questions. man his face turned white as a fresh bleached sheet. When it was time to answer questions, Purkey defers to some woman to answer something real simple. When council member Newton ask him a question about who the code official and fire code official was, he started sounding like Cohen with his round the bush non answer. His answer reminded me of the "well I'm sort of pregnant" answer. This guy is in what position? "Well it could be either! Damn just fire this guy and move on.
Council member Hall had to try to explain that inspectors must be qualified, but had other coulcil arguing about qualifications.... YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING!!!! I want someone who knows what they are looking at inspecting my home or business. Are you people just simple?
I sure hope that in 30 days all these managers are out looking for new jobs. I started printing these articles at home to take to the office for people to read about how government does not function, just in case any of our staff think they have it bad. Working for Rockville really SUCKS!
Rant over!


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