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Rockville defends employee’s outside work

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Published on: Thursday, May 10, 2012

By Christa Puccio

ROCKVILLE – After several questions from city employees, the acting city manager of Rockville said it is not a conflict of interest that a Rockville employee also apparently puts time in with a consulting firm which provides coaching services to politicians/executives at a rate of almost $10,000 per year per client.

Many current employees have circulated e-mails and asked on-line about the apparent conflict of interest  involved in having a city employee act as a government consultant while working for the city government.

Anne Robbins, an announced candidate for political office in Rockville said she believes the outside employment is a conflict of interest, while councilman Mark Pierzchala defended the outside employment.

“People have questioned this particular situation for a long time. I have yet to hear anyone, except senior managers, support it,” Robbins said.

“Secondary employment is okay,” Pierzchala apparently told Robbins in an e-mail. “It is okay everywhere. It is what allows many people to serve on Mayor and Council. Many people need a second job, especially lower-level employees.”

“Ms. [Michelle] Poché-Flaherty's secondary employment was approved according to the procedures in the City's Personnel Policy and Procedures Manual,” said Marylou Berg, public information officer for the City of Rockville.  “Her secondary employment meets all guidelines set forth in the manual, including the requirement that secondary employment not conflict with regular employment with the City of Rockville and not constitute a conflict of interest.”

Poché-Flaherty is currently the organizational development manager for the City of Rockville.  According to Rockville’s website, the Organizational Development function within the City Manager’s Office promotes improved performance in departments, divisions and individual work groups throughout the City of Rockville. Services available to senior managers and client departments include: performance consulting, strategic planning and management facilitation, training, executive coaching and leadership development, change management and team building.

According to the website for City on a Hill Consulting, Poché-Flaherty’s is the president and founder of the company that provides coaching services to clients across the country.  According to the company’s website, “We work with you to clarify and focus your vision of what you want, explore the possibilities, strategize a plan of action, anticipate obstacles and diminish them, and expedite your progress toward your greatest goals.”

The acting city manager said employees of the City of Rockville are permitted to have secondary employment under certain guidelines.  “Employees may engage in outside employment or private financial activities provided that such employment or activities do not conflict with regular employment with the City,” said Jenny Kimball.  “We have many employees who supplement their city employment with a second job. They are permitted to work their second jobs in the evenings or on their days off. This is also very common.”

Kimball also said that not all Rockville employees have to work five days a week to be a full-time employee.  “Rockville has personnel policies allowing for varying work schedules and secondary employment,” said Kimball.  “The Personnel Policy and Procedures Manual (Section 60-00) establishes that the regular workweek normally consists of five (5) consecutive days or four (4) days within the seven (7) day workweek as defined by the organizational unit. Full-time employees who work 4 days per week work more hours per day than a 5 day per week employee in order to reach their weekly total. Police Officers, some labor units and some administrative employees do work four days per week.  Work schedules and secondary employment must be approved for all employees. A secondary employment form must be filled out and approved before an employee begins a second job. All employment within the City will be subject to special review by the respective department director and approval of the Director of Personnel to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

Poché-Flaherty did not return calls from the number listed on the consulting website by press time.

Reader Comments - 24 Total

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Title: Good info

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Posted By: Sandy Koons On: 5/26/2012

Title: Fools abound in rockville

What Rockville needs in old judge Wapner to lay down the law in Rockville. Hey people this ain't rocket science.
Tell me how a company is run only on Fridays. How stupid are you nincompoops who approved this secondary employment?
In case you need to look up words over four letters
Is city materials being used to make copies for her business? Ullery is gone and Flaherty needs to follow.

Posted By: Mr. Wolf. On: 5/25/2012

Title: The Same BS continues

To read that the part time staff person has just been approved for another contract is nothing but another slap in the face.
Tell me what kind of car does $5,200 get you these days?
Do all the senior staff drive luxury autos?
Heck what if the car is paid off? Sounds like another perk windfall to send to the bank. If you are having to spend $5,200 on upkeep it's time for a new car.
I really doubt that the directors use their personal vehicles for business travel in the city.
Who pays for the fuel for these directors?
Audit the phone records for the part time Flaherty, if she has a public phone it's public business. Let's get the records for the last 6 months to start.
Who the hell do these people work for anyway?
I would have fired Poche-Flaherty months ago. I blame this whole current mess on the current acting city manager. Ms. Kimball could have put a stop to all the abuses, but has allowed this to gain traction and will cost the city big money in the end.
Mr. Vargas you sir should step down right now before the real dirt comes out about you.
No wonder Rockville defends this woman and the rest of the senior staff, they all are in the same gravy boat!
Ha Ha. Now we see the cargo the So called USS Rockville carries. Damn ship is full of tax payer loot and gravy!

Posted By: Tim Moore On: 5/25/2012

Title: Six figures for what?

I too want to know just what Ms. Flaherty dies to the regular employees in city hall. From what I am reading she provides very little instruction to city hall staff, serves no function to us residents and operates here consulting business from city hall.
Then I now read that this womans contract is approved for another year of the same DO NOTHING. How dare you waste tax dollars on this position.
I am really starting to think this was a cronie position to serve the city manager achieve his goal of creating his little kingdom of yes robots.
I think we need to take a damn close look at the real budget numbers and not the hide the cost books that that double talking director named Cohen lectures the mayor and coundil from.
I sware this man can take a simple answer and spin it completely around with double talk so it could not be understood my Warren Buffet.
I think we deserve to see the exact expendatures in the city down to the last roll of toilet paper purchased. I also would love to see just how many boxes of ICMA books that the city purchases and compare with the number of supervisors trained. See where I am headed with this? I watched the ICMA Vid onYouTube and heard her say we purchase these books by the box full. AUDIT THE PURCHASES!
Hell just stop training the supervisors since clearly the book is not really used.
I think an external investigation by the feds is in order because Rockville cannot manages it's own affairs. The power of the mayor and council has been reduced to kissing babies and cutting ribbons. if Ullery has his way they would loose that perk.
The city is full of people serving themselves and not the citizen. I say let her work full time for the City on the Hill!
Plain and simple fire her and the rest of these worthless do nothing staff.

Posted By: HPO --- Highly Pissed Off !!! On: 5/25/2012


To resident,
Are you kidding ?????? So, MPF is raking in 10% more in salary, plus continues to receive a car allowance, and will be getting a 1% COLA in July? Thank you so much for your post. And a huge THANK YOU to the person who leaked the information. I'll be sending my resume out for professional review tomorrow then posting it on every job board in the nation. Nothing is going to change, nothing. Not even hopeful that a new City Manager will make a positive difference. Same ole BS !!!
Another inside tidbit: A boycott of the upcoming employee picnic is in the works.

Posted By: Resident On: 5/24/2012

Title: contract renewed

It has leaked out of City Hall that MPF's contract was renewed by Ms Kimball. What is most ironic is funds for her department have been cut, which translates into...what the hell are we paying this woman to do?

Posted By: Getting disgusted On: 5/23/2012

Title: Seriously?

What exactly does an "organizational development manager" do? I'll be that most folks don't even realize that she's not even a Rockville "employee". She is an outside contractor brought in by ex city manager Ullery. She should have left with him. She's making 6 figures +. Time to go.

Posted By: Ted On: 5/23/2012

Title: Cronies abound

Reading these comments is like reading a bad novel, except this a real life drama that has torn into the hearts of city residents.
How dare the city treat the staff like personal toys for their amusement!
I cannot imagine why the acting city manager has done nothing and feel certain that Ullery is still operating the last vestige of his kingdom.
The situation in rockville better change once and for all.

Posted By: Big John On: 5/22/2012

Title: Rockville is a sick joke

Kimball has spent more time defending the position of Ms. Poché-Flaherty, than speaking up for the employees.
In fact, exactly what has Kimball said in support of the employees with the exception of a little ditty taken straight from the mission statement.
Kimball honey you are a true champ of employee rights......PUKE!
Do the right thing and step aside now!
I find it not surprising at all that the vipers are putting out the cheese and being real nice to the little mice in city hall. Watch out mice once a snake allways a snake.
Hopefully the city staff will get results and these managers will be standing in fromt of the unemployment line... I personally would like to show them what a size 13 looks like.

Posted By: Anna D On: 5/22/2012

Title: Fire Flaherty now!

What in Gods name is going on in Rockville? I expect more from the city that I have lived for 40 years now.
Damn all of you to eternal damnation and beds of hot coals. I bet the prisoners at Gitmo are treated with more respect that these employees. Oh I am not talking about people like Ms. Poché-Flaherty who should be fired along with Ms. Kimball for supporting her outside employment. What nerve and to have a statement of support on her web page is just outrageous!

Posted By: Anna D On: 5/22/2012

Title: Fire Her

What in Gods name is going on in Rockville? I expect more from the city that I have lived for 40 years now.
Damn all of you to eternal damnation and beds of hot coals. I bet the prisoners at Gitmo are treated with more respect that these employees. Oh I am not talking about people like Ms. Poché-Flaherty who should be fired along with Ms. Kimball for supporting her outside employment. What nerve and to have a statement of support on her web page is just outrageous!

Posted By: Max. City of Abuse (Rockville) On: 5/20/2012

Title: Rockville defends employee’s outside work

Yeah and they defend the rights of cruddy managers who mistreat the rest of the employees.
Where was the protection of the employees who claim mistreatment? Were You out playing golf Vargas? Or could it be that you are just out to lunch?
This is the biggest circus act to come to Rockville since they closed the old Fireman's Carnival grounds. Whats next the erection of the Big Top over city hall and Kimball staging a 3 ring circus with the staff performing tricks?
I prefer to see the managers doing the tricks for all the staff. Now that would be worth paying to see!
Sorry Rockville it is time for the city to grow up and suffer the cost of the lawsuits soon to be filed. I pity the city if they plan to allow this mess to go to trial.
From the looks of these comments they will have to hold the trial in Western MD.
Rockville is a example of a brutal out of control government with out checks and balances.
Reading these stories makes me want to vomit!

Posted By: Jarhead Steve. Semper Fi! On: 5/18/2012

Title: Say what?

Tell me that this nightmare is just a dream.
Better yet tell me that the report is just not true. Better not try because you people do nothing but distort the truth!
How in the heck can this be allowed in the city? We are talking about the city of Rockville, and not the Maryland Correctional Facility.
Mr.Vargas and Ms. Kimball it would appear that someone allowed this in direct conflict of the laws. No matter what is said, it is each of your responsibility to find out the facts and ask questions prior to approving secondary employment. Telling the newspaper secondary employment is allowed is nothing more than a cover up.

The days of this garbage are over! Hope each of you understands. The city will change and become a great place to work. No more code reds in the city!
This is yet another prime example of why each of you should resign or be fired. Ms. Kimball you have betrayed the public trust and in addition showed you are nothing but part of the good ole by club in the city.
Swift you are the worst so called leader of the bunch. I would have your six doing push ups all day long, and when you were done, the entrenching tool would be used by you to dig a 6x6 hole just to fill it back in tamping each level of dirt with your feet.
Heck I think you would be a prime volunteer to clean the head after a night of dogs, and beans.
It is time for the windows in City Hall to be opened and allow fresh clean air into to remove the rotten stench. From reading the comments under each of these articles I'm not alone with that thought.
Seven years and no action on the part of the former and existing mayor and council. I really wonder who betrayed the public trust. I guess we shall see!

Posted By: Staff On: 5/17/2012

Title: Poor managers

One thing is for sure and that is that the one proud All American City has become a third rate dictatorship. This dictatorship is comprised of worthless managers who know nothing better than how to tear down the very staff they should be building up.
Some Key points for a manager.
* Do I know what is expected of me?
* At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do what I do best every day?
* In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
* Does my supervisor or someone seen to care about me as a p person?
* Is there someone at work that who encourages my development?
* At work do my opinions seem to count?
* In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?"
This is the same ICMA book touted by our part time staff person that the city uses to train supervisors. Why is it that the city waste money sending staff through this training if the managers completely disregard most of what is in the book?
" We purchase these books by the box"
Save the tax payers money and just stop all the window dressing and flat out lies.
Tell us Poché-Flaherty what good do you do for the staff? Each director needs to go through the training, and then be held accountable by the city manager.
Many of us think you are worthless to the staff and you only serve the needs of the senior staff.
How much private one on one coaching do you do for the senior staff?
I personally never receive any praise. The same staff get awards, my opinions are shot down immediately. In fact each of these key points is not practiced.
I never received nothing but praise in my other jobs and what a huge mistake I made going to work for the city.
The only people that the mayor and council seem to care about is senior staff.
You can bet that if a low level staff person was accused of acting the way the managers do each and every day, they would be fired. In the city they are protected by the city manager.
If this so called investigation yields no results I am going to accept the next job offer I can get.
I had to take the day off due to the overall level of stress. Thanks city! Guess I'm lucky to have a job.

Posted By: Employee 21 On: 5/17/2012


A note is only required if you miss more thn 2 days in a row. Don't be afraid. Strength in numbers. I have spoken with over 50 employees who are planning to call out on Monday.

Posted By: Kathy L On: 5/17/2012

Title: Rockville

Rockville is nothing more than a sick joke as the headline indicates
"Rockville defends employee’s outside work"
They defend a clear violation because she is one of the elite, and ruin the lives of city staff by not protecting them.
Now the abused staff have to obtain attorneys to protect them.

Posted By: John M On: 5/17/2012

Title: Another ruse on us citizens

Someone needs to go back to school and learn govt 101.
A clear conflict of interest violation.
The real question is what job brings in the most income? Will she make the choice or will a new city manager?

Posted By: Can't call in sick -- A NOTE WOULD BE REQUIRED !!! On: 5/16/2012


I agree with you ! The Mayor and Council should review the Appendix pages of the FY09 adopted budget and compare it to the FY10 adopted budget. And, they should ask for an explanation in the City Manager's section of the proposed FY13 budget that lists a $20,000 decrease for "Crucial Confrontation" training. Funny that City on a Hill consulting recommends the book used for such training. Did any City employees attend "Crucial Confrontation" training in the current fiscal year? If so, how many and at what cost to the taxpayers of Rockville? What BS !!!!!!

Posted By: My paycheck comes from the city. On: 5/16/2012

Title: Bridge for sale!

Who here really thinks that Poché-Flaherty only returns her phone calls and e-mails relating to her City on the Hill consulting business after she puts in those hard 10 hour days that allows her to work a compressed work schedule?
Here we have yet another example of a staff who floats in and out of city hall when she darn well pleases.
I suggest that more may be hidden relating to this staff. For example is she being compensated if she has to attend night meetings?
If I were a city resident this would cause me to be outraged. In the city we are mad but this activity is nothing compared to the rest of the abusive operation.
The Sentinel needs to dig just a little deeper to hit the pocket of gold hidden just below the surface.
Get the hint?

Posted By: Yet another city employee On: 5/16/2012

Title: Clerar conflict of Interest

For the city to state that the secondary employment of Ms. Poché-Flaherty is nothing more than another slap in the face to the good citizens of Rockville and all city staff.
A conflict of interest is;
A term used to describe the situation in which a public official or fiduciary who, contrary to the obligation and absolute duty to act for the benefit of the public or a designated individual, exploits the relationship for personal benefit, typically pecuniary.'
Examples of the Maryland State conflict of interest regulations/law is found below
I suggest that the Sentinel file a MPIA request for the cell phone records for this employee. If the city is paying for her cellular service the paper can obtain these records.
Many of us are also talking how Scott just creates contract positions for his friends while the rest of us staff have to settle for any scrap of meat left after senior staff finishes eating.
Examples are Marylou Berg and Michelle Poché-Flaherty. These positions had been civil servant positions for years. The Sentinel should investigate exactly when Ullery changed these positions.
I wonder if the mayor and council had any idea?

Posted By: Abuse of Authority On: 5/14/2012

Title: Really???

Just because Ullery and Vargas approved her having, essentially, a concurrent career, doesn't make it right. Ms. Kimball should have been more circumspect before approving it again. How does one go about running a consulting practice when you have a full time job? When do you make sales calls or do your coaching? Pierzchala suggests people need second jobs to provide for their families. While true for many people, does someone making a 6 figure salary, 10% bonus and car allowance really need to supplement income to provide for a family of two? And holding a second job is a bit different than owning and running a business.
One last question...who is paying for the coaching Ms. Kimball is/was getting from City on the Hill? Does the City pay for this kind of training?

Posted By: Thomas G. Johnson Sr. Darnstown Maryland On: 5/12/2012


With each passing week, I read more and more sad stories about life in the city.
The abuse of so many staff is just horrific. Not to mention the lax response from the acting city manager who clearly should be removed by the mayor and council for derliction of duty.
It is just beyond belief that the city is useing tax dollars to investigate what has become so obvious by reading the Sentinel. Tragic stories of abuses, conflict of intrest violations, HR violations, racial comments, civil rights violations, age discrimination and so many other issues.
Ann Robbins is correct, the secondary employment of this staff person clearly violates conflict of intrest laws.
Many staff in Rockville have betrayed the public trust and must resign or be removed from office immediately.
Take off the rose colored sunglasses for a dark storm cloud loomes over the city.
How long will the city be main front page news?

Posted By: Staff who is waiting for positive change. Oh I'm a Rockville resident so I vote! :) On: 5/12/2012

Title: Someone hit pay dirt

Jennifer for someone who is not a city employee you have been able to dig up some
Interesting facts. Maybe you counld investigate the city???
Many of us staff in city hall have spoken for sometime of the same people mentioned in your blog
Most of us know that Swift interviewed for the CPDS directors position at the same time Mr.Chambers was being interviewed, and she did not get the position, back when Mark Pentz was city manager.
Speaking of Art Chambers he was in city hall the other day and I almost did not recognize the guy since he looked so relaxed. I know many in CPDS really liked him as director.
Now back to Swift, who floats around city hall and reports to work whenever. She is seen strolling into city hall via the real parking lot at 10:00 am or later.
The sad joke is she is off more than she works. I have seen her strolling back with a Starbucks coffee late in the afternoon without a care in the world.
I Goggled Swift and found she was only in Leesburg several years prior to being hired to work over the CPDS staff under the boot of Scott. Rumor is she was hired to clean house, and Jim W was one of the targets since he had embarrassed our great former leader.
I wonder what mess she left Leesburg in? Anyone know someone in Leesburg? Maybe the Sentinel could probe around to find out the dirt.
Swift is often seen in the company of our 4 day a week staffer when she is at work. Yet another part time staff person, except she is supposed to work 5 days a week.
I would hate to have her as my boss. She treats the staff in CPDS like trash.
Not too many people in city hall can stand seeing her. I have seen her at the mayor and council meetings picking her teeth and other nasty things, coupled with how she sits in staff meetings. Many of you know exactly what I am talking about.
Many of us know that Shanks applied for the chief position in ISD but was unsuccessful, just like the guy named Bill who used to wear the white dress shirt. You remember Bill he seemed to spend more time wandering the halls and visiting with a female employee who worked across from the copier upstairs. When he was not wandering the halls he would complain about not getting promoted. There are even more interesting stories about that guy. Thank god he finally left the city.
When Shanks did not get the chiefs position and they hired the guy from Flordia he treated the new ISD chief with the same level of disrespect he treated Charlie with. However this time he had the help of Purkey who had been embolded by his promotion by Susan Swift. Together with Swift they worked to undermine the new hire at every turn. There is much more information that can be released if necessary.
Not too many in city hall liked Matt Shanks. My god, was he hard of hearing, or did he just like to hear his own voice he talked so loud?
I have many friends who are in the fire department and they indicated he was never a firefighter. Wait! He was the Rockville fire marshal and he was never a firefighter.
So many were glad to see him go and since he left things have gotten less noisy. The guy seemed to have a huge chip on his shoulder all the time.
There was so much scuttlebutt about Shanks hating Charlie Baker with a passion. I used to hate going into the lunchroom when he was there in his little fire marshal costume. The bunch of them including Purkey would sit at the table whining about everyone just like they had no cares in the world. His favorite subject to abuse was my friend Charlie. Did they really think that the word would not get back to Charlie?
How many of you would laugh when you would see Shanks followed by Purkey with the other guy Smith(?) in tow just like geese following the leader and off they would stroll to the COB for breakfast and then off to lunch. Usually when you would see Shanks and Purkey was not to far off his heels.
The funnny thing is that not too many people in city hall like Purkey and could not stand Shanks. Sorry Purkey! maybe you would have faired better is you were not an A_s kisser! I really do not know the other guy at all, so I reserve comment at this time.
I will save space and not address our favorite part time staffer. What has been said is well known in the city, and documented here in the Sentinel.
Jenny you really need to take some legal classes relating to ethics in government so you can learn what a conflict of interest is. Hey take council member Mark P with you since he thinks this conflict is OK!
This is what happens to a city when you let the children loose without an adult guidance. It will take years to fix what is left of the city.
Good luck, I do not plan to be here much longer, and my next conversation will be through my attorney.

Finally, a message to Burt my all time favorite director. I hope your hand is feeling better soon after the little fly off the handle ditty. Guess somethings in city hall are harder than one thinks...LOL
Better get that repair order in to fix the holes in the wall. LAMO. Really is not funny. Many often thought he would punch staff.
Enjoy your retirement. What a heck of a way to end your career!

Posted By: Jennifer Ashby, Rockville On: 5/10/2012

Title: Please make it stop

Good Lord, please make this nightmare stop. Weeks ago, I was watching the news about the Secret Service scandal and then the GSA mishandling of government funds and I was expecting Rockville to be announced next. How is it that the Secret Service fires six people within one week of the occurrence and the GSA head resigns and many more managers are terminated but yet in Rockville we decide that the acting City Manager will write the specifications for an investigation on her coworkers and herself? Just make sure not to blame me or Marylou!
I did a google search of Susan Swift and found that she left Leesburg government before coming to Rockville. She left that place a mess! Go to and look at the March 5th and October 17th, 2008 articles by Kara Clark. She chased people away from Leesburg and now it has been done here. Plus, she chased Wolf Furniture away from building in Leesburg. After her departure, Leesburg asked Wolf Furniture to come back and now they will open their store this coming Labor Day weekend. How is it that we are finally getting a retail grocery store in Town Center? Does she need a kickback? Is that why it took so long to walk downstairs to a grocery store? What does she have against retailers? Did Rockville do a good search for a manager? After Swift left Leesburg, they had to reorganize her department into two separate entities. I bet Rockville will need to do that.
I also looked for Mr. Purkey and found nothing. He must be a lackey without any skills or education that sold his soul to the devil. He has probably operated without any boundaries to every command that he has received from her, much like a concentration camp guard. Mr. Shanks resigned after the first article, either from the shame or management told him. He is most likely the scapegoat set up to take the blame for everything.
I was reading the comment posted on April 11th by “Wouldn’t dare for fear of reprisals” under the March 29th “Two Former Employees Level Complaints” article. The person stated this is standard practice in Montgomery County government. WHAT? There too. Guess where Mr. Vargas came from before Rockville?
And now we have another member of the secret society having her own company while working for the city. Is anyone paying attention? I looked at the website and Jenny has a quote on there about her sessions. Are we paying Flaherty twice, once as an employee and then again with her consulting? Mr. Pierzchala, secondary employment is okay and I understand but is the city paying for twice the services?
Please pray for these people before and after they are fired. Although the good book says to forgive, I do not know if the employees can. These individuals need help from a higher power and from a team of highly skilled psychiatrists. Hopefully, the City of Rockville has an Employee Assistance Program for them or is Vargas the self appointed EAP guru or should we send them to City on a Hill Consulting?


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