Tuesday, March 11, 2014 4:02 AM
Published on: Friday, November 30, 2012
By Christa Puccio
ROCKVILLE – Despite the resignation of two city supervisors, and an independent investigation which cost close to $200,000, there will apparently be no disciplinary action taken against other city supervisors.
This, despite a six month investigation prompted after a series of articles in The Montgomery County Sentinel outlined several complaints of racism, sexism and discrimination .
As it turns out, “The report finds that no one person, department or policy at the root of the complaints,” The city said in a written statement Wednesday afternoon.
“I am very grateful to those individuals who came forward to share their concerns with the investigators. It is because of their trust in our process that we can now move forward under our new City Manager,” Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio said.
Specific recommendation from Saul Ewing, the independeent group which conducted the investigation include, affirmation that all personnel information remain confidential. The report also recommends purchasing software to facilitate the tracking and monitoring of employee complaints, grievances and evaluations. It also included the implementation of an electronic performance evaluation system, and update to the city’s personnel policies and procedures manual and finally it recommended improved training on the policies and procedures to ensure consistent interpretation and application across the organization.
“The findings outlined in the Saul Ewing report provide the City with the opportunity to strengthen its work environment, in order to better support the members of our workforce as well as the community we serve,” City Manager Barb Matthews said.
Matthews took over as city manager after the investigation had already begun. “Our employees are our most valuable asset,” she said.
In Sept. 2011 red flags went up at the City of Rockville when the city clerk at the time resigned abruptly and told The Sentinel the lack of respect and appreciation for her work by her coworkers and superiors caused her to lose her love for the job.
Two months later, as reported in The Sentinel, the former clerk accused the City of Rockville of discriminating against her as a black female employee.
Two months after that, the former clerk received a severance package from the city totaling nearly $43,000.
In March of this year, two more former employees claimed they suffered from mistreatment, tampering of employee personnel files and an unprofessional work environment while employed with the city, as reported in The Sentinel.
The following month, The Montgomery County Sentinel learned two more city employees claim they were mistreated by the City of Rockville during their tenure there.
Finally, six months after the first whistle blew and the red flag went up, the City of Rockville vowed in mid-April to investigate the former employees’ claims of racism, harassment, discrimination, tampering of personnel files and discrimination and hired Saul Ewing LLC to investigate the City of Rockville.
The City of Rockville and Saul Ewing LLC entered into a contractual agreement on May 4, 2012 after five former employees of the city alleged that the city management was guilty of discrimination, racism, tampering of employee personnel files and more.
According to the contract, Saul Ewing agreed to review, revise and supplement the City’s Personnel Policy and Procedures Manual and conduct investigations of complaints made by former employees regarding the City of Rockville’s Department of Community Planning and Development Services and Department of Human Resources.
In addition, the firm agreed to conduct investigations into workplace complaints by current city employees. At the end of the investigation, Saul Ewing agreed to compile a confidential report summarizing its findings and offer recommendations to the City.
The report initially was contracted to be completed by Aug. 15, 2012 for $90,000, the contract was extended to Oct. 31, 2012 for an extra $100,000. Come Oct. 31, the City of Rockville allowed Saul Ewing to take an extra month to finish the report at no extra cost.
Now that Saul Ewing completed and submitted the report, Matthews said she will be addressing all current employees today, Nov. 28, with a statement first and then will release a statement from the city to the public after that.
“We are working to get [a statement] out as soon as we can,” said Marylou Berg, communications director for the City of Rockville.
If interested in receiving a copy of the report, citizens may submit a Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) request to Council Support Specialist Louise Atkins at Rockville City Hall, 111 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850 or email her at LAtkins@rockvillemd.gov.
Posted By: City employee 123 On: 12/5/2012
Title: Politics in Rockville
So Ms. Mathews... it would seem that the issues raised by the former employees in the city are NOT going away. In fact, it would seem that the apparent cover up is going to back fire against the city as one can see by reading the comments so far.
These is no reason that the report cannot be released if the names of the staff mentioned are redacted. I suggest that many issues were in fact cited and what we see is nothing more than a city running scared from the information found in the document.
There is no doubt in my mind that the report stated improvements were needed any idiot could see that fact by reading the stories in the Sentinel.
The city cannot be allowed to hide behind this report. If Mathews does not have the guts to do what is right and fire city staff then she needs to be sent packing!
Finally, many here in the city have zero confidence in the new city manager. She had the opportunity to come out as a leader not another Scott Ullery.
Posted By: Employee X On: 12/1/2012
Title: A sad but expensive joke
So how can Saul Ewing come to any conclusions if they did not interview the former employees? I guess they asked the managers if they did what was reported in the Sentinel.
Draw your own conclusions...
Posted By: Kimberly On: 12/1/2012
Title: Simple question???
Why did the city extend the contract if no illegal activity was found during the initial investigation?
I suspect the city paid for a cover up.
Posted By: Carl McFadden On: 12/1/2012
Title: Say what?
So $190.000 get us what? A cover up with no facts released. The city mayor and council need to stop drinking the Kool Aid.
So who was interviewed?
How many people came forward and risk their jobs?
What are the facts?
I smell something that is rotten and the stench is at 111 Maryland Ave.
Posted By: Scott Mathews On: 12/1/2012
Title: The sad saga continues.....
Clearly Rockville thought long and hard and contracted Willy the Weasel to word the releases to the public.
Seriously read between the lines in this paragraph. As it turns out, “The report finds that no one person, department or policy at the root of the complaints,” The city said in a written statement Wednesday afternoon.
So what I read is that there is more problems, and not one person is responsible. Yeah more like a culture of multiple abusers.
Could it really be that Rockville is so screwed up that they had the city spent hours working on wording for the release?
Posted By: Buff On: 11/30/2012
Title: What the...
“The report finds that no one person, department or policy at the root of the complaints,”?? If this is true then just what was it that the Managers in the articles were doing? So much for a transparent gov. All in all this will show to be a waste of taxpayers money if the offices are alowed to be run as they had been under the past City Manager. What kind of document will anyone get through the MPIA a two page document or something that is filled with black lines hiding information...This is so wrong.
Posted By: Sean McConald On: 11/30/2012
So if I were a person looking for a place to work it sure as hell wil not be Rockville. I find it hard to understand why the actions of the supervisors is acceptible and no action will be taken against anyone.
People forget asking for a copy of the investigation. What the city will send will look like the reports released about the UFO's and project Blue Book. Line after line of black marker strike throughs.
What a screwed up city!
Posted By: Tom Ferris On: 11/30/2012
Title: THE FIX IS IN
What a joke! The new city manager needs to be sent packing. 200 THOUSAND for exactly what?
Posted By: Mark S. Rockville Resident On: 11/30/2012
Title: Typical BS in Rockville. That stench is getting worse under the new City Manager!
So what we have read in the paper since March has ended with the behavior of city supervisors is just fine. It would appear that instead of fixing problems in the old city what we have is more of the same.
I read the crafted news statement on the city webpage and it must have been crafted by the city attorney. There is no way in gods green earth that the supervisors in Rockville acted in accordance with the laws. I for one really want to find out the exact scope of this dog and pony show and find out what 200K was used for.
SO MUCH FOR THE NEW CITY MANAGER!