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Good luck to the investigator of Rockville’s debacle

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Published on: Thursday, April 26, 2012

By Brian J. Karem

The reaction to a series of stories published during the last month in The Sentinel, has been far reaching for the City of Rockville.

Not a day goes by that we haven’t heard from employees on the city staff who, on one hand are thankful for the light shining on the problem, but on the other hand are frustrated and ultimately upset the situation has apparently deteriorated as it has in Rockville.

One worker said he was stopped by a local woman who has been following our stories and the woman expressed sorrow that he worked for the City of Rockville.

One of the most telling things in this whole fiasco is that no one, and I mean no one has come forward to defend any of the city supervisors, nor have these supervisors spoken to us.

When Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio asked me if anyone had come forward to defend any of the supervisors, I had to tell her sadly the answer was no.

That does not prove any of the allegations made, nor does it condemn the process, the city or any of the city management staff.

As far as all that goes, we must maintain our distance as reporters and allow the process to work.

We have a great deal of faith in Mayor Marcuccio’s ability to make sure an independent investigator is hired and deals with the problems quickly, thoroughly and professionally.

We do not work for the city, and while we have a great deal of empathy for those who have gone through the problems and those who are alleging improprieties, and while it seems evident there is just cause for a thorough investigation, we will neither draw conclusions nor jump to the punishment phase of the proceedings before an independent investigator comes forward with the results of their efforts.

That said, we still find it incredibly curious, and compelling to note the head of Human Resources for the city has refused to comment or even provide us with even the dignity of returning phone calls.

I personally witnessed a member of the city staff treating one of our reporters in a very rude fashion earlier this week.

My question is why?

In the spirit of “don’t shoot the messenger,” there is no reason to be upset with our staff.

There is no reason to attack us, no reason to be upset with us.

If there is no basis for these allegations, then come forward and speak with us as the Mayor has.

If there is a basis for these allegations, then you should be happy they were exposed in order to clean up the problem and find who is responsible.

I find it always curious, often counterproductive and ultimately funny that anyone should treat one of our reporters in such a fashion for they are merely doing their job.

I believe it was Sam Donaldson who once said the best way to deal with a reporter is straight. Don’t try to intimidate them – it won’t work. Don’t lie to them for they’ll find out. Don’t try to lay a thick layer of baloney on them, because if they are fooled and come to find it out, then things go down much worse than had you just spoke plainly in the beginning.

I truly wish all politicians, police, doctors, lawyers and anyone else who find themselves in the public glare in less than an exemplary fashion would remember that.

Of course, I also still wish we had bases on the moon, flying cars and peace on earth.

I doubt those things will be coming soon either.

But, really, the City of Rockville has no one to blame for this fiasco, whatever the outcome but those who work there and manage the workforce. 

That’s a simple fact that all the anger and blarney in the world won’t change.

Thank heavens someone is now ready to get to the bottom of it.

Good luck.

Reader Comments - 3 Total

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Posted By: Bobby On: 4/28/2012

Title: Hand N Hand. Time to go!

Sounds like many tried to get help by seeking out Vargas only to be thrown under the bus.
I am confused has the mayor said there is no basis for the allegations?
One thing is for sure and that is Vargas is not suited to manage the HR department.
I call for Vargas to step down immediately. While he is at it stop by and help Swift pack her bags and the both of you can leave hand in hand. Now that would be teamwork!

Posted By: Greg P. On: 4/27/2012

Title: This article is hard to find

Maybe this could be placed on the front page so it will get more hits. I had a friend send me the link.
Anyway, the situation in Rocktown is wretched at the least. Never in my entire career has anything this bad come out about local government.
I normally do not read the Sentinel and like others someone told me about the articles.
The treatment of the news reporters is not called for. Simply thank them and say you have no comment. What this behavior shows me is that there is contempt in city hall towards anyone who may challenge the status quo.
I have to agree that the managers in city hall will not just leave and must be fired, but at what cost to the city?
I have no respect for goons like those who treat people like trash, and my opnion seems to be in the majority.
Every day more and more city employees are posting. This is unheard of in local government.
City staff posting begging for help and exposing more inside dirt. Now we find out that Marylou Berg is also a manager, with reports of her conducting evaluations to have staff she in to supervises leave in tears. Someone is missing the purpose of the evaluation process. Marylou are you listening?
So it sounds like the list to fire expands to include Ms. Berg.
What is the average age of those being harassed? Sounds like many older staff from what I have read.
The city has some serious issues to deal with and we citizens will not accept more of the same old hide behind the bushes.
Stop trying to cover up the wrongs and just fire the whole bunch.

Posted By: Saddnened On: 4/26/2012

Title: Former Employee

Having worked for the City for many years, I find these Supervisors to be very hypocritical. We were supposed to be on the "front lines", displaying top notch customer service, while they sit in their City Hall offices like fat cats, pointing fingers and taking no responsibility. I vividly remember one of my supervisors (one that has been metioned in these stories), getting on me for not calling back the Gazette within a day. She claimed that the City has a very strict policy for returning calls and emails within one business day. Sounds like a good policy to me, great reponse time goes a long way. BUT, when it comes time for a Supervisor to call someone back, like the reporter in this story mentions, it doesn't happen. HYPOCRITES.


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