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Reaction to investigation varies in Rockville

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Published on: Thursday, August 23, 2012

By Daryl Buchanan

ROCKVILLE- The City of Rockville is paying $190,000 for an internal investigation. The cost of the inquiry has many up in arms.

The investigation is scheduled to be completed in October after an original end date of August 15 would not be met. Saul Ewing LLP found reason to extend their lengthy investigation that could bring changes to City Hall. Here are some reactions from a few of the Mayor and Council members:

Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio said she recognizes some may be upset, but the Mayor and Council cannot intervene. “This is a very delicate process and we can’t interfere with this. We owe it to the staff and citizens to get as much done as possible. Most importantly we want to get to the bottom of the issues,” said Marcuccio.

She went on to say that the extension was not expected as Saul Ewing’s original bid to the city was what the law firm expected the investigation to cost and its length. Marcuccio said Saul Ewing must have found more work that required their attention.

Councilmember Tom Moore said he was not happy with the cost, but defended the investigation. “It’s one of the things you can’t do halfway. We were committed to starting this and we are committed to finishing it. I think it would have been a lot worse if we didn’t get any reactions or participation from the employees,” said Moore.

“I’m not pleased with the price, but I am pleased that the employees got involved. I think they got very good input from employees and I think the calls to the hotline have been addressed professionally and completely. I’m happy to see people were comfortable enough to participate.”

Moore said he did not have any preconceived notions on the cost of the investigation in the beginning.

Councilmember Mark Pierzchala also said he did not have any guesses on the cost of the investigation. “I had no anticipations about the cost when we voted to secure the outside counsel since the task was open ended,” said Pierzchala. “I feel that we’re getting good value for the money. We wanted a thorough investigation and we’re getting it.”

Former five-term City Councilmember Anne Robbins was surprised by the increased cost and expressed concern on how the money was going to be used for the employees.

“I was truly shocked. $100,000 is a lot of money. I think it should have been discussed and not just a consent agenda item. I think there should have been an explanation of the missions and goals,” said Robbins. “Also what is the money being used for and what will happen to the information Saul Ewing finds. How will it go to helping these people to receive help because obviously they need relief?”

Twinbrook Citizens Association President, Christina Ginsberg said there could have been a solution in a new position within City Hall to help curb such incidents and investigate complaints.

"We told the Mayor and Council several years ago that there needed to be an independent Office of the Inspector General in City Hall,” said Ginsberg. “This is especially critical since this personnel investigation involves the role of the City Attorney's office and the City Manager's office in former City Clerk Glenda Evans' complaint. Adding a competent inspector general could have been mostly paid for with the $190,000 that is being paid now after the fact to Saul Ewing."

 Saul Ewing will present their findings in a report to the Mayor and Council when the investigation wraps up in late October. It has not yet been determined whether the findings will be made public or if the Mayor and Council will brief the public on the findings.

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