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Don't go back to Rockville . . . and waste another year

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Published on: Thursday, June 07, 2012

By Brian J. Karem

With apologies to Mike Mills and R.E.M., we have to return to Rockville - if for no other reason to laugh heartily and cry loudly.

The laughter comes this week as the embattled director of human resources, Carlos Vargas issued his resignation and left the city.

We’re not laughing at Vargas, nor the fact that as the head of the human resources department he was in charge of investigating charges of the racial, sexual and age discrimination employees claim occurred in the city.

We’re laughing at the fact the acting city manager apparently knew about his resignation since May 11 and told no one about it.

The fact that an outside company is investigating the city, and specifically allegations made against Vargas and other high ranking managers in the city should dictate that the acting city manager notify someone about the resignation.

If not the media, then surely the mayor and council - especially since the resignation came just four days after Saul Ewing LLP was hired by the city to investigate allegations of misfeasance.

Yet, low and behold, Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio claims she wasn’t made aware of the director’s departure until after he’d already left!

Now that’s a good cause for a belly laugh.

What’s worth crying about is that the mayor and members of the council apparently had no chance to conduct an exit interview with Vargas.

It would seem that such an interview would be highly productive for the city, if for no other reason, than to find out recommendations from the outgoing HR director as to what the city needs to do to protect itself, go forward and make for a smooth transition.

Communication, people, is a real good thing. But in Rockville, it seems to be a lost art.

That’s also worth crying about.

The acting city manager and the city spokesperson both seemed to have collective amnesia about the departure of Vargas - despite the fact that he is the topic of conversation almost every day in the city!

Worse, it seems members of the city staff aren’t too keen on following city procedures as outlined in the city’s policies and procedures.

Apparently senior managers are required to give a 30 day notice.

While Jennifer Kimball told us in writing “Carlos Vargas resigned on May 11 by meeting with me and providing me with a formal letter of resignation,” she apparently forgot to check the city’s policies which dictate the 30 day notice.

Of course Marcuccio is less upset with the number of days involved in the notice than she is the fact that she and the council were not made aware of his departure until after he was already a vapor trail under the door.

My question is, why?

Why would you wait to let the mayor and council know?

The city is currently under investigation for some serious infractions and one of those senior staff members who is at the nexus of the investigation decides to take a powder.

Okay. I get that. Maybe I would find another job too, if it were me.

But why didn’t Kimball let the mayor and council know?

You can’t blame Vargas. He did what he was supposed to do.

You have to wonder where the thought and communication process has disappeared to in the city manager’s office.

You may also wonder who else will be headed out the door, or already has decided to head out the door during the investigation.

When we asked earlier this week what was going on in the city with the investigation and those involved in it, we were told “nothing.”

Uhhh . . .epic fail.

Now, I have to wonder who else is fleeing the city that we haven’t heard about?

The mayor has urged the city to adopt a sense of clarity and transparency.

Now it is needed more than ever, but this move, coming as it does while the city is under investigation portends even nastier weather ahead.

Perhaps the city needs to take a collective breath, step back and for the love of heaven . . .

Get Some Common Sense!

Reader Comments - 1 Total

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Posted By: Kathy L On: 6/12/2012

Title: Clarity and Transparency...LOL

Still business as usual in the city of Rockville. KImball continues to take orders from her mentor Ullery while he sits back and collects his fat retirement check after only 7 years of service.
Where were the mayor and council while Ullery ran all over the employees rights? He was slowly taking all the power away from the mayor and council while extending benefits to his cronies on the senior staff.
One has to wonder exactly what if anything a new city manager will do to fix the problems in Rockville. I suggest this person will meet with the senior managers and hear their side of the story and then it will be back to business as usual. The only difference will be the abuses will be done in a covert fashion.


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