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Rockville closes in on an outside investigator

Meanwhile, former council member says scandal forces her to throw hat in the ring

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Published on: Thursday, April 26, 2012

By Christa Puccio

ROCKVILLE - While the acting city manager plans to select an investigator next week to investigate former employees’ claims of discrimination, harassment, tampering of personnel files and employee evaluations, and illegal disclosure of medical information, a former councilmember announced she is running for city council again – or maybe even mayor.

“The city attorney and I have been exploring law firms that could meet the City's needs,” said Acting City Manager Jennifer Kimball.  “I expect to have a selection by Monday and to provide an update to the Mayor and Council at that time.”

A former council member said she is not happy with the way the investigation is being handled.  “I’m running for counsel, maybe even for mayor, because I’ve had enough of Rockville playing games,” said Former Councilmember Anne Mahoney Robbins.  “You can’t get answers from these people and people want answers.  Normally I don’t think people should go back, but something needs to be done and I’m not alone.  A lot of like-minded people are giving this serious consideration too.  Enough is enough.”

According to Communications Manager Marylou Berg, neither the scope of the investigation nor how much the investigation will cost the city has yet been determined.  “I think it’s inappropriate for [The Sentinel] to show up and expect an interview with the [acting city manager],” said Berg.  “It may be important to you, but she has a city to run.”

City Attorney Debra Daniel did not respond by the release of this article.

The City of Rockville’s Fiscal Year (FY) begins July 1 every year.  The City of Rockville’s staffing trend peaked in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 at 653.6 total positions (both full-time and temporary), according to the proposed budget for FY 2013.  Since then, staffing steadily decreased each year.  In FY 10, total staffing to 648.8. Then in FY 11, staffing fell to 631.9.  In FY 2012, staffing decreased to 625.7 total employees.  And staffing proposed for FY 2013 is 607.1.  The total staffing decrease from FY 09 to the proposed FY 13 is 46.5 employees.

Some former employees claimed Susan Swift, director of Community Planning and Development Services, was hired to “get rid of employees,” according to Charles Baker, former chief of inspection services.  Susan Swift was hired by the City of Rockville on Feb. 26, 2008.

The allegations, according to city personnel, have been forwarded to the director of Human Resources, Carlos Vargas. According to sources inside the city Vargas has apparently lobbied against going to an outside investigator, but Vargas himself has repeatedly refused to comment about any allegations or his responsibilities to the city.

The problem surfaced last fall when a former Rockville city clerk accused the city of discriminating against her as a black female employee and without her knowledge stuffed her personnel file with spurious accusations. The former clerk received a severance package from the city totaling nearly $43,000.  Recently, four more employees brought their complaints of harassment, discrimination, tampering of personnel files and discrimination to the Sentinel.

Mayor of Rockville Phyllis Marcuccio said going to an outside source to investigate the City of Rockville and the claims made by the former employees is the best route.  “We’ll review the whole process to find out what in the world is going on,” said Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio.

Earlier this month, a former employee claimed that her employee evaluation was unprofessionally conducted.  “Rockville bases raises on the employee evaluations,” said Nancy Williams, a retired Community Planning and Development Services (CPDS) specialist.  “So, if you don’t get an employee evaluation you can’t get a raise.  I started complaining and it became an issue because [the supervisor] did not want to do it.  I put more pressure on [the supervisor] and started complaining at training sessions.  [The supervisor] decided to give me an employee evaluation that was awful.  [The supervisor] sat in front of me and screamed and hollered and was verbally abusive to me.  I documented that in the [grievance letter] I wrote to [the supervisor].”

Another former employee, Carol Reitz, wrote to the city manager, human resources and the mayor and council on Jan. 8, 2010 with similar complaints.  Reitz wrote, “As the months progressed, [the manager] took advantage of meetings to publicly berate and insult staff.  [The manager’s] comments were unprofessional, making comments regarding ethnic association.  Staff sensed bigotry in certain remarks [the manager] made about specific staff.  Because of the comments, there appeared to be a disregard or lack of respect for CPDS staff.  Needless to say, this behavior undermines the team effort, lowers morale, and infects all with a disrespectful attitude toward management, and is hardly representative of the Rockville Way… if staff disagrees with [the manager], [the manager] is quick to retaliateby creating impossible deadlines and workloads that are difficult to achieve in the time expected, particularly when relying on outside sources.”

Reader Comments - 39 Total

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Posted By: Middle Aged Middle Manager On: 5/3/2012


I am a mid level manager for the City and am not in any of the departments named and have really never had any issues, BUT, at a meeting this week we were discussing this and our department head (brought in by Ullery) made the comment that we can all relax, the investigation will take a while, the City knows who is complaining and this will "all go away sooner than later, the City is good at dragging things out until the annoying people get tired of complaining". I was aghast as were many in the room, we all kept quiet, but the rest of the day was eerily quiet. People are now starting to openly discuss their long term options. Older staff are ready to high tail it into retirement, younger staff are scared for their futures and us middle agers are stuck. This is not a good environment to work in. I am sending this from my laptop during lunch, because I am 99% sure our IT department has been told to keep track of who is reading the Sentinel. Is this the Fourth Reich of Rockville? WHAT IS HAPPENING? City Hall is TOXIC and needs purging, NOW, PLEASE!!

Posted By: I need my job. If my name is published I will be fired or abused. On: 5/3/2012

Title: Conflict? You make the call.

Now that the cat is out of the bag. The investigators and public need to see first hand the internal workings of a broken system.
This sure looks like conflict of intrest. You make the call.
About our #1 leadership coach who is mentioned as the 4 day a week city employee.
No doubt she is working a compressed work schedule. Most of the day her office sits empty.
The below information and links were copied directly from the website which is owned & operated by the mentioned City of Rockville employee.
"She continues to work for the City of Rockville, Maryland, as an internal consultant responsible for leadership development, change management and performance improvement"
______________________________________________________________________"Our coaching appointments let me focus on my own priorities and give me valuable feedback from someone I trust. "
Jenny Kimball
Assistant City Manager
Rockville, Maryland
This has been all the talk in city hall for some time now. Many wonder how this was allowed.!executive-coaching
Look for yourself before changes can be made.
What is a conflict of intrest you may ask??
'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'
So since Ms. Kimball the now acting city manager is quoted on the staff persons personal business website, coupled with the fact our favorite internal consultant is currently employed by the City of Rockville could we be on to something here?
Please investigators, city attorney or someone look into this issue. This one is a real no brainer!
As a city employee it is true that we have no person in city hall that we can trust. finally only after the Sentinel published these articles can the good people of Rockville can see first hand what goes on in city halll.
Everyone can now see why morale is so low and people are afraid to come forward.
As a citizen what you see on the surface is not the real truth. For example, we have a Fraud tipline in the city,that encourages staff to report illegal activities. No staff person dare use the line since the person calling may be the one who is put under investigation.
The citizens pay for an outside company to take calls, which are then forwarded to the HR director to be investigated. See where I am going with this?
The whole inner circle needs to be investigated. You may be surprised to see what is hiding under the rug that we know about.
Who can the employees trust?
Why should we as employees have any trust in this proposed investigation when Jenny is calling the shots?
Can someone give us an answer?
Once the pressure is off the city will be back to business as usual. Many of us lave lost faith in the city to fix the issues.
Please help!!!

Posted By: JMT On: 5/3/2012

Title: Appalling

What's up is that Rockville has one huge mess on their hands and it grows worse every week.
More and more staff are speaking out against a system that has been rulled by an iron fist for 7 years.
The Sentinel and a few brave former employees have blown the lid wide off of city hall.
Can you imagine working under the described conditions? It makes me sick just reading the horrific begging for help from city staff. Even worse is reading the stories from the retired staff.
Clearly the agenda in the city was not one of service. The only service was to the inflated self serving egos of the task masters who lack any form of moral fiber to treat people like they expected to be treated.
Rockville must not try to cover this one up. There will be hell to pay come election day.
I hope the former staff who were abused are well taken care of. They should not have to pay one cent for hiring legal council to get a settlement from the city. Do the right thing and take care of the former staff.
Next the entire Mayor and Council should offer a public appology to all abused former staff. This would be a great start in a long healing process for the city.
It took 7 years to completely destroy a once proud city. Rockville must do the right thing and never allow this to happen again.
As a citizen, I am so very sorry that each employee mentioned in these articles had to go through complete hell while trying to do a thank less job while serving us citizens.
To each current employee, I offer my heart felt thanks for sticking it out in city hall even though faced with horrid working conditions imposed by some ruthless task masters.
A very sad day to be a citizen of Rockville.

Posted By: Not necessary. On: 5/3/2012

Title: To: Rockville Resident

Yeah Ullery understood the end was near. I suspect one of his final parting shots was not having the water to the Town Center fountian turned off. His inaction soaked many residents that came to support the Mayor in June.
I can just see his silly looking face laughing & hitting the replay button on YouTube while watching the mayors supporters run for cover.
What a parting shot that this moron got away with. You can bet this his way of kicking the Mayor who voted not to approve his contract.
Enjoy the Ullery legacy!
Yep this was the guy we had in charge of city hall.
His legacy will be that he ruined many lives and a once excellent city.
"Mr. Ullery fooled a lot of people - elected officials and citizens alike. It could be said he sensed what was coming...saw the handwriting on the wall."
We citizens can have the last laugh as the evil empire that he built consisting of abusive self loathing managers are sent packing.
Clearly the acting city manager is not up to the task, so why not replace her with someone who has the guts to do what is necessary?
I agree why is rockville protecting these managers? Someone have something to hide?

Posted By: Rick Dyspepsia On: 5/3/2012

Title: Say what?

How can someone have sex in the city hall parking lot and at another city faciltiy and still have a job? My god right outside the police department to boot.
What kind of operation is Rockville running?
Does anyone not understand why the residents are upset?
What will be next?

Posted By: Sean A On: 5/3/2012

Title: ?

Answer this one question for me.

Posted By: Timmy On: 5/3/2012

Title: Tax Question

Hey Rockville
If I donate several rat traps for use in city hall can I get a tax deduction?
I hope a new city manager cleans house starting with the HR director.
Embarrassed to be a Rockville resident.

Posted By: Raul On: 5/2/2012

Title: Oooh that smell. Get the clothes pin ready.

Anyone else smell something rotten coming from Maryland Ave?
The city keeps on dragging its feet on the outside investigator. No real news this week.
Psst... maybe this will all blow over soon. Ha Ha yeah right DO NOT COUNT ON IT.
What really has a bad stench is that the acting city manager is extablishing the scope of the investigation. Does this have a bad smell or what? One of the key managers charged with operating the city at the time of the abuses is establishing the investigation parameter. AMAZING INDEED!
People this can only happen in Rockville.
Lets get real Rockville! The city is looking like a 3 ring circus. Remember that famous quote from PT Barnum,"There's a sucker born every minute."
Well this resident is not falling for the BS.
The only thing Ms. Jenifer should be involved with is packing her boxes. There is no way on gods green earth that the fox can be trusted to guard the chicken house.
The Mayor and Council must step up to the plate demand a full investigation. (PERIOD!)
The citizens and employees deserve a full complete investigation not a partial peek under the cover!
Fix the darn problem and get Rockville back on top. Enough BS and pussyfooting around the issue!!!!

Posted By: Inmate 44X567 Serving till age 60 + due to the Thrift retirement plan On: 5/2/2012


I feel real bad for the former staff who felt it necessary to expose the horrible working conditions that many of us face in the city. Just think these former co workers could have sat back did nothing and just enjoyed their paychecks.
Only after these brave people stood up and said NO MORE did anyone take notice.
We all know that anyone who complained had the 1,2,3 step and you are out treatment. Ullery did nothing to protect any of us... not one damn thing. He helped himself and the fat cats rip off the city with reclass studies and job creation in his department.
While the staff stopped getting step increases, reduced or no COLAS the fat cats like the Asst City Manager, Dept. Directors and out part time MP who is a SA I all got that fat 10% raise with the extra perks like the take home car with free gas or a car allowance.
This and all we hear how bad off the city is and we need to cut cost.
Sorry on behalf of the M&C I am sorry to tell you the less than good news. But look on the bright side! You are lucky to still have a job!! Yepper that has been said. Sort of a threat if you ask me.
Take a look at the staffing trends in the proposed budget my fellow co workers. Less staff, more work with next to imposssible deadlines. All this while the fat cats and the acting head honcho plan how they can screw us workers. Go past the upsairs confrence room Tuesday mornings at 9:00 and see the fat cats at work planning their next move.
Anyone notice any changes after Scott left? Damn right it is business as usual with the city. The robots are all on auto program doing exactly what they were told.
Funny many of us have witnessed several of the fat cat directors acting real nice to the poor staff. Do any of you really think they have had a change of heart?
Inside reports indicate the fat cats have had meetings with Vargas to learn the same sad song titled, "We followed the rules and did nothing wrong"
MP our favorite 4 day a week part time staffer has been seen meeting with some of the supervisors and fat cats.
What do you think she is up to? We can bet it is assisting the fat cats with the lyrics of the official rockville song.
I suggest someone look into the computers and phone records to see how much outside work is being done.
The city will be spending tax dollars for the outside investigator who will operate within a scope of work defined by the acting head honcho with the guidance of inside council.
THIS SMELLS JUST LIKE THE WARF ON A HOT SUMMER DAY. This is nothing but a expensive plan to conduct a limited investigation to limit satisfy the citizens and show that the staff who came forward are just a bunch of malcontents.
Please Sentinel keep the pressure on the city. We really need change or more good staff will loose their jobs or suffer breakdowns.
Face it people the city could care less about you as a person. You are a slave to the system and nothing more.
Once this situation calms down it will be business as usual. At least there will be a small period of playing nice in the city.
I'm continuing to dig my tunnel and will be making a break for the hills if things do not change.
Damn you gotta try to laugh or it will tear you apart. This pressure has just about ruined my life.

Posted By: Dick On: 5/2/2012

Title: Hello! Anyone in city hall care???

Ok, so I have been reading the articles and it seems that many supervisors have been named.
So how much damage did these two staff do to the city?
1. Mr. Ullery bailed out in December
2.Mr. Shanks bailed out in March/April.
You remember Mr. Shanks. He was the person who make a wise crack against a black staff person.
This comment would have gotten him fired immediately in the Federal Govt. But under Vargas, Swift and Ullery there is no action. Not one stinking thing happens just a cover up. Not even a slap on the wrist.
So we are left with;
1. Ms. Kimbal City managers office
2. Ms. Swift. CPDS
3. Mr. Hall R&P
4. Mr. Purkey CPDS
5. Mr. Vargas HR
6. Un mentioned supervisor (Female) in Public Works
7. Ms. Berg
8. ????? Will your name appear here next week?
How many more cowards or supporters are hiding inside city hall slithering through the hallways just waiting to strike the staff when the pressure is off? Sooner than later the rest of you vipers will be exposed by the light of day.
Get this and understand that we will not be going anywhere until each of you are fired.
I have been telling everyone that I know and anyone who will listen to read these stories.
Just like the gentleman who spoke during last nights citizen forum indicated the news is reaching people outside the city.
Not one person has stepped forward to defend the actions of the city hall supervisors named. This should tell U people something.
Do us and the city a favor and just step down now!
Rockville has much work to do to restore the public trust. I am not sure if the employees will ever trust the system again.
Good luck Madam Mayor and Council as you have a tough job selecting the right person to leed the city from a staff graveyard of mistrust, despair created by very poor managers.

Posted By: Jack N the Box- a sad resident On: 5/1/2012

Title: Wasted evening!

Man I sat by the TV last night waiting for the big story about the outside investigator and what happened? Did I blink? I had to replay the session.
Looks like the fire is starting to grow in Rockville and all the local fire department has is a small discharged fire extinguisher.
Time to strike the Mutual Aid Box (MABAS) for 111 Maryland Ave for 2 story brick with fire showing!
Ding Ding... Box 03-01 being struck..... DC units E31, E24, E22, E20 and Truck 2 .... respond. No need for BLS or ALS response since staff are not important to the city.
How it must suck to be a city employee. I hope the best for all the staff. We will keep the pressure on the city to reform management.
Please someone tell me why these people still are employed? Why in the hell is the city protecting these people? Why in the hell are tax dollars being used in lean times to investigate what is clear?
Here is a suggestion for the Mayor and Council! If the city still insist on hiring an investigator, any of the staff who are found to have violated the law, rules or any other proceedure should have their PAYCHECKS garnished to pay back the cost of the city having to hire outside council.
What do we have as managers? We have cowards that hide in their cushy office from the reporters, one who not only hides but sends out warning emails from under her desk telling staff not to speak to reporters and the best is a staff person who is rude to the news reporters. Talk about pouring gas on the fire.
I watched the M&C budget work session to see what some of these people looked like. What a flipping Dog and Pony show that was. Charts shown on screen that were not readable, and a CPDS director who was all over the map, and clearly had no clue, but talked from notes. When questioned she had to turn to staff for the answer. How much does this person make?
The city should be able to hire better staff.
Also, I also agree that the HR director needs to be appointed directly by the Mayor and Council.
Thank God we have a great fire department and not one like refrenced in my posting!
Thanks for reading.

Posted By: Charles Baker On: 5/1/2012

Title: Additional information

I wanted to also add this bit of additional information that was told to numerous CPDS employees when they complained to the Department of Human Resources.
When complaints were filed the most common statement to come from HR was "The problem in CPDS was "we never had a real manager". Really?
The readers can draw their own conclusions to this statement.
Someone really need to read the employee handbook, city policy on harassment and especially read the supervisory handbooks used to provide additional training for all city staff.
One of the primary books used to train new supervisors and others entering the city workforce as supervisors is entitled "Effective Supervisory Practices. Better Results Through Teamwork" Published by the International City/County Management Association. (ICMA)
If managers in the city were serious at building effective teamwork and seeing that the employees succeed in their jobs, opening the book would be a great start. Reading the book would be a great second step! Heck the book even has pictures with captions!
I do not think mistreatment of staff and abuse go hand in hand with being an effective leader!
I must have missed the sections of mistreatment of staff, micro management, poor communication and all the other sections on how to destroy morale and make employees less productive is located.
There are some very good managers in the city who work very hard in their jobs and are well liked by staff. Maybe they should be the ones teaching the employees?? I fear mentioning their names, but we know who they are.
Charles Baker
Retired Chief of Inspection Services

Posted By: BB On: 5/1/2012

Title: Retirement

Dude it must be great to retire after 7 years with the city. Did this guy get to write his own retirement ticket?
Looking back his jobs last around 7 years and he is gone.
How many years will it take to clean up the mess he left? How many lives have been runied?
I sure hope the Mayor and Council hire a person who knows how to work with staff and the council.
Ullery was often rude to the Mayor and several council. I often wondered why they chose to put up with his BS.

Posted By: Neville Chamberlain On: 5/1/2012

Title: Peace in our time

WHAT A GREAT GUY! Hip Hip Horray!
Marcuccio was giving a speech at 7:30 p.m. on June 10 when the fountains that shoot geysers from the sidewalk went off. She had arranged to have them shut off from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., which Ullery says he had agreed to and had no qualms about
There's no connection," Ullery says of the vote and the fountain mishap. "You know when the right time is, and it's the right time."
He had no problems? This sounds just like a dictator. He works for the Mayor and if she wanted the fountian off it was his job to do so. In my opnion, the dictator left the fountian on just to screw up the mayors addres.
"No stranger to controversy, Ullery has often been at loggerheads with staff, residents and at times members of the council. During the past year Ullery has faced allegations of staff misconduct stemming from controversial statements in his e-mail correspondence with a resident in January, and was one vote away from not having his contract renewed as Rockville city manager at a June 14, 2010 city council meeting." {Sentinel}
In January, the Rockville City Council did not reprimand Ullery for allegations of staff misconduct.
Yep this is a great guy. He soaks the Mayors campaign address and soaks the staff.
“He did a great job,” said Gajewski. “He’s very dedicated. He’s hired most of our senior staff. He came on when the city was developing the Town Square and did a great job seeing over that. I think he leaves behind a very positive legacy.”
I think his legacy is yet to be written. As the city defends itself against claims of racism and other activities, Ullery sits in his fancy home sitting back and enjoying his fat retirement check.
Let us not forget what Larry (Pitor) stated " He’s hired most of our senior staff.
Many employees sit in their home in tears and fear of reporting to work the next day.
Yep this is something to be real proud of.
Ullery bailed out of his contract after the election when he found out that he could no longer count on the three stooges Larry, Curley and Mo on the City Council.
Now the Mayor and new council members have to remember his legacy daily when the read the citizen outrage.
Now is the time to fire the rest of the staff hired by Ullery. Swift, Vargas, Kimball and Marylou all need to hit the road. Maybe Ullery can devote some time to help in the move. Just remember HE HIRED THEM!
The new city manager needs to clean house of the other people hired who have been named in these articles like, Burt Hall, Purkey and the yet un named supervisor in Public Works.
I have lost all faith in the city to do the right thing. Sorry!

Posted By: Just Let Me Retire! On: 5/1/2012

Title: Who is running the City

As a city employee many of us still think Scott Ullery is still involved in the management at city hall.
City hall was buzzing about Scott showing up at city hall to take Marylou out during working hours.
Lot's of rumors.. Oh no!
We also are wondering if he is being paid to act as a consultant. Ha Ha!
Heck as the World Turns has nothing on the day to day life behind city hall.
Many here at city hall laugh about the internal joke concerning Scott hiring almost all women to surround himself with.
See check this out>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Life at city hall is very interesting to say the least.
A supervisor was caught red handed having sex right behind the rear entrance to city hall adjacent to the police department entrance. Information discussed around the city indicated this was not the first time since the same behavior had been witnessed at the public works facility off Gude Drive.
Yet this person still has her job. Funny thing is that she is also one of the supervisors mentioned by refrence in the blog comments on this website.
I feel sorry for her husband!
Life at city hall is one of watch your back, don't speak to strangers, never speak to the Mayor and Council and never speak to the news media.
Scott sure expanded the size of the staff in his office. WOW! just look at the cost to the tax payers just to cover the employee cost center.
I see someone else zeroed in on the 4 day work week for our minion hired by Scott who only works 4 days a week and operates her own consulting business on Fridays. Yep you can bet she NEVER conducts private business during the hours she is at the city.
This person is never in her office. Wonder what time she starts her day and better yet when she leaves?
Must be nice to have a friend like Scott who hand picks you for a job just created for you and to have the job classed so high it is the same as the Assistant City Manager at a pay grade of SA I which tops out at over $147.000. Must be nice! Heck this is one of the top paying jobs in the city.
Many of us do not even trust this woman and think she was a direct line of communication to Scott that caused some employees to get burned.

We have an internal survey manages by the above person that is supposed to be confidential, yeah right. Many managers come out smelling like a sweet flower and they are just hated by the staff. Negative comments are not printed and what we see is a sanatized final product.
Many of us do not take the survey as we feel the info is being leaked back to the department director.
When Mark Pentz was here things were not this bad. Soon after Scott was hired many of us understood that things were changing and it was going to be very hard for us. Little did we know!
The one director who turns red in the face has been going off on people for years. many have heard this and even though I will not mention his name all one has to do is speak about the red faced director and like magic his came comes up. Why is he still here?
The directors can pretty much get away from following the rules. No one trust the HR department to do their jobs since Carlos was brought on board by Scott. Those who dared to complain are not with the city any longer.
Who will fire these people? Morale at city hall sucks real bad. Management does not care they just want you to STFU and do exactly what they dictate to you. Last minute projects are all the norm. Micro management is all the norn. All this while out 4 day a week friend touts LEED and HPO at every twist. All this is is nothing but window dressing to show how progressive the city is. What stinking bunk!
Someone really needs to help us. We do not feel the outside investigator will do anything to help the staff just upper management.
A very sad place the city has become!
Oh.... This posting is being done on my time not the city.

Posted By: Jabba the Hut On: 5/1/2012

Title: M&C meeting

So as I sat here this evening waiting for the big news on the Rockville scandel, I was amazed at the response. We are close to signing a contract. Oh boy!
I agree with the lady who spoke and said that Ms. kimball sould not even be involved since she was part of management while the reported abuses were taking place.
This reader has no doubt that the Mayor and Council want this to be investigated, but I am sorry this is taking the shape of a piece of ____ in the toilet it is stinks so much.
I bet the news articles have given the inside managers time to get the story straight and each of them will be singing the same ole tune. Someone should have given them written notices that they would not meet with each other to discuss anything related to the charges.
Attorney: Mr. Vargas did you violate these laws etc... Y no I follow the regs
Attorney: Ms Swift did you follow all the rules? Of course. I even checked with HR to make sure.
Attorney to M&C they said they follow the rules.
M&C to citizens. No rules have been broken. All staff will be sent to additional training.
Attorney to M&C; here is ur bill for tens of thousands of bucks
Back to business as usual!

Posted By: Charles Baker, Retired ISD Chief On: 4/30/2012

Title: Retired Chief of Inspection Seriovces responds.

I thank everyone for the support on shown on each of the articles in the Sentinel newspaper, personal emails and telephone calls.
Making these issues public was very hard for me as a long time veteran city employee and I only did so after I discovered that the conditions at city hall continued to degrade with each passing day.
I really enjoyed my chosen career at the city, and used to feel that I was making a huge difference by protecting the citizens and business community by enforcing the codes, regulations and laws of the city and state.
Several years ago the city under went a huge transformation, and soon days and hours were spent trying to justify enforcing the adopted regulations to the department director, who, in my opinion, was looking for a way to negate the enforcement activities and allow violators to get past following the adopted regulations.
For example, in one meeting there was attempt to force my division to approve a condition which was cited to be in violation of the code. During this meeting staff were told by the director of CPDS that we "cannot always be right" and the condition was deemed acceptable by the outside designers who submitted for permit. One of my staff clearly indicated that he could not sign off on the violation and cited his reasons why. This infuriated the director who then pushed me to sign off, at which point I indicated I could not as I agreed the condition had not satisfied the code. In my opinion, the meeting was held to put pressure on the staff and myself to accept a condition which we felt was in violation of the adopted standards.
This situation was not an isolated occurrence. When the director did not want to hear anything said, she would wildly wave her arms and then signal it was time to shut up by imitating a traffic cop with the stop hand gesture. I was then instructed how things would be.
Management would decide to overturn violations even after being advised the situation was not safe and violated the law. I often wondered if the police department enforcement of regulations were also being interfeared with.
A prime example is one day the City manager made a decision and overturned my legal position and others on the scene of a fire, by allowing residents back into an apartment complex located on Baltimore Road which suffered a fire and had no electrical power, no active fire alarm system, emergency lighting or active smoke detection devices as required in the adopted city fire code. Residents at this property in many cases were using candles to light up their apartments.
NOTE: Apartments involved in the damage were excluded. The power for the entire development was discontinued by PEPCO.
According to the United States Fire Administration candle fires "cause an estimated 15,600 fires in residential structures, 150 deaths, 1,270 injuries, and $539 million in estimated direct property damage each year"
Unfortunately this is not an isolated instance. All too often the persons who are perceived to be the experts and charged by the city to enforce the standards are just simply ignored by management.
What these articles and staff comments reveal is just a small snap shot of the problems at city hall. The issues are far reaching and way too numerous to mention at this time.
I have many friends still working for the city and even more that simply could not take the pressure of daily life at the city and have left. All to often a friend would advise me about their abusive supervisor and how that abuse was spilling over into their family life and personal lives.
Seeing my good friends and co workers leave evaluations in tears and hearing story after story about how they were yelled at by so called managers really effected how I perceived the city and me on an emotional level.
In all my years of service in the city I had never seen morale so low for such a extended period. The city staff look exhausted and rarely smile, unless you are on the inner circle of a small group of staff.
The residents, business community and others has lost much of the institutional knowledge that came from the long time staff. Many hours of time are devoted by inexperience staff trying to figure out solutions to the many issues in city hall.
If any city staff or others choose to contact me I can be reached via email at
In conclusion, I want to thank the Mayor and Council for looking into these issues. Hopefully the City of Rockville can once again become a true All American city that values not only the citizens, but the staff who serve the community.
I am truely saddened what has happened to the city within a very short period of time.
Charles Baker
Retired Chief of Inspection Services
City of Rockville Maryland

Posted By: UNION NOW On: 4/30/2012

Title: Mayor and Council

If, for some reason, this topic isn't discussed at tonights meeting, then there is a concern amongst staff that the Mayor and Council do not care abou their employees. If this is the case, many of us have been meeting privately about banding together and preparing to move forward with some sort of work stoppage. These directors/supervisors have been left unchecked for years and that must change. We either need a STRONG city manager, or a STRONG Mayor and Council. If these issues are not adressed soon then there will either be a mass exodus of employees or some extreme work stoppages. Be prepared.

Posted By: Rockville resident On: 4/30/2012

Title: The Ullery Legacy

It is a sad day in Rockville, but if the Mayor and Council do the right thing, maybe we can recover and move forward under the leadership of a new City Manager. Senior positions are top-heavy with Ullery hires, and it has been apparent for a long time that they reflect the dictatorial style of management he brought to our City.
For example, why is someone in a senior position, that is paid a six figure salary with bonus and car allowance, allowed to have her own consulting practice and work 4 days a week? Had she done the job she was paid for, perhaps a lot of what we are reading and hearing would have been avoided. A small part of her job includes: performance consulting, strategic planning and management facilitation, training, executive coaching and leadership development, change management and team building. It would be cheaper for the City to terminate her and hire her as a consultant.
Director of Rec and Parks (Burt Hall) has been mentioned several times. He is guilty of employee harassment, and if he worked in any other place, would have been long gone. Employees are in such fear of losing their jobs that not one person from his department ever filed a complaint, and if there were any complaints, no one did anything about them. Hall's screaming and threatening management style is well-known within City Hall.
Mr. Ullery fooled a lot of people - elected officials and citizens alike. It could be said he sensed what was coming...saw the handwriting on the wall. Regardless, it is time to clean house and to restore dignity and pride within our City's workforce.

Posted By: Current Employee On: 4/30/2012

Title: It's A Lose-Lose for Employees

The City of Rockville government is no longer a democracy or a professional organization. It was a great place to work many years ago when there was respect, team work and employee inputs were valued. Now it is simply a controlled environment where employees can leave at the end of the day, have weekends off and dread returning to work on Monday.
Supervisors rule and management turns a deaf ear. Unless you are the supervisor’s pet, the control, mental and verbal abuse is disgraceful. I can relate to tears flowing during and after an evaluation review and in the office when my supervisor yells at me. Little by little, employees are beaten down to obey supervisors and never question orders, even if orders violate the Rockville Way and the Customer Service Standards.
Projects are often assigned without clear instructions due to ineffective communication by supervisors. Employees struggle to meet unrealistic deadlines to avoid being humiliated and beaten down again and again; knowing failure to do so will be ammunition for the supervisor to use during their evaluation review.
The City Manager’s department grew by leaps and bounds as Scott Ullery added benefited positions to his secret group. Employees were told there is no money for pay raises and were threatened that wages may be reduced in order to avoid cutting positions (scare tactic.) Repeatedly hearing that you are “lucky to have a job” doesn’t promote a healthy work environment.
Divisions are given more responsibilities without adequate staff to perform the duties. Supervisors order the underdogs to perform impossible workloads, justifying their orders by the last line in all job descriptions – other duties.
It’s a lose-lose for employees. Employees don’t have anyone to help/protect them and most employees don’t dare file a grievance. When Rich Hajewski headed HR, he listened, helped and was fair. Carlos Vargas is either a puppet for management or doesn’t have the brains to perform his job. His solution is to order more training that doesn’t help employees and is ignored by supervisors. Since the Sentinel articles started, so have the mandatory trainings.
I fear “You Can’t Fight City Hall” will prevail and management will be allowed to discredit employees’ claims. How crazy is it that management is going to hire an investigative firm paid for with taxpayers’ dollars to investigate their own violations, and the underpaid/abused employees do not have the financial means to defend themselves? Shouldn’t the employees also be able to hire an investigative firm paid for with taxpayers’ dollars to investigate their complaints?
I used to be proud to say that I worked for the City of Rockville, The All-America City. I remember when Rockville was the most prestigious city in the U.S. to work for. The All-America City is now The Un-American City.
Thanks to former and current employees who are brave enough to file complaints and post comments exposing the working conditions at the Rockville government.
Thanks to the Sentinel for reporting the employees’ complaints. I hope the Sentinel doesn’t give up the ship. Please continue to publish articles until the City is free of this dangerous virus and justice for the dedicated employees is a reality.
Please Mayor and Council, protect your dedicated employees. Put a smile back on employee faces and laughter in the halls. Give us back our All-America City.

Posted By: JJ On: 4/30/2012

Title: To Alec

Oh boy this show should be the highest rated cable broadcast the city has done to date.
What we need is old Judge Roy Brown or Judge Judy to come and hold court in Rockville.
We can even hold the trial in the Death Ray new courthouse right across the street.

Posted By: Pizzed off citizen On: 4/30/2012

Title: Fuming in Fallsgrove

After reading these articles I am wondering how we citizens can call for the City of Gaithersburg to annex Fallsgrove.
This really makes me want to puke.

Posted By: Doug On: 4/30/2012

Title: Terrible

I discovered the horrible scandel articles while visiting the doctors office. This is just sad to think the city government allowed this treatment.
When the doctor put on the rubber glove and had me bend over the exam table I thought about the employees and how they must feel everyday. At least the doctor used a lube.

Posted By: David Peabody On: 4/30/2012

Title: Trees more important than staff

Yes it must be true. Trees are more important in Rockville than staff.
Maybe we can plant forsythia bushes as the official Rockville Bush. My pappy used to break off a twig to spank out butt when we got out of line. The managers who rule with the whip could break off a branch and beat the staff with the Official Bush of the city.
Not to far off since this abuse sure sounds like it was not only allowed but officialy sanctioned by the top whip master.
The Rockvile Way. We all now see exactly what this catch phrase really means.
Makes one wonder exactly what thoughts were behind the new jingle? "Get into it"
David signing off and sounding off from Gaithersburg.

Posted By: Mr. Housten On: 4/30/2012

Title: Cha ching $$$$

So the bottom line is just how much this will cost us the poor tax payers?
It would not have cost a dime if Vargas did his job. It would not cost us a dime if Kimball would do her job.
It would not have cost us one dime if Ullery had done his job. It would have not cost us a dime if Swift had not mistreated staff.
Now we have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to justify what exactly? Why these so called senior staff should be allowed to keep their jobs.
Oh poor is me Swift and Vargas. (FAIL)
No it should be...Oh poor as me employees and citizens who have paid and will be paying to repair this mess.

Posted By: Abramo Giordano On: 4/29/2012

Title: Toot LMAO

I think Capt Tug needs his/her own show on the rockville channel.
Capt Tug is the only funny thing about this whole sad debacle.
I would love to call each one of these so called managers into my office and say; Sorry I have decided to fire each of you.
Is the city locked into keeping these people?
Why is the city protecting each of these people?
To me it sounds almost like Mr. Ullery has never left and is still dealing the cards.
Sorry Mayor and Council but calling in an outside company does have the smell of protecting the guilty. How much evidence do you need? I highly doubt that all these employees are not telling the truth.

Posted By: Mitchell Powell On: 4/29/2012

Title: Ruse

While the acting city manager plans to select an investigator next week to investigate former employees’ claims of discrimination, harassment, tampering of personnel files and employee evaluations, and illegal disclosure of medical information...
I SMELL COVER UP. So the same person who dropped the ball will keep it in play?
I would not even trust someone who sat back and did nothing while the staff was being abused.
A quote comes to mind about this current situation:
If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters. ~Alan Simpson
Sometimes a person just has to do the right thing no matter the cost. I call that honor and integrity. Clearly Ms. Kimball has neither.
If I were charging the enemy there is no way you would be covering my six!

Posted By: Sarah On: 4/28/2012

Title: Is it over yet?

I must stand up for management.
Yeah, I will stand up and wave good riddance when they fire the whole rotten bunch. :D
Sounds like each of the staff was over the age of 40. I suggest there was a plan by the city manager and others to rid the city of older workers who were being paid more than younger workers.
Could the city be giulty of violating federal law?
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) (29 U.S.C.A. § 621 et seq.)
If I were in the mayors shoes I may tread very lightly when turing over those stones.

Posted By: Grovin and movin B On: 4/28/2012

Title: Pew weeee

What that awful stench in down town Rock Town?
Why it city hall don't ya know. The buildin full of vermen, rats and snakes eating garbage.
The city have been over run and they chewing on the staff rear end every day. What we need is a cleaning of the garbage pit and some real managers instead of this scum who make a livin off the tax dollars and blaming evey mistake on staff.
What we need is brother Johnny Cochran to give them the old rope a dope and run these scum out of town on the next garbage train.
There not enougn Lysol in Wally World to clean the stench from city hall. Goin to take years.
Yeah U can a laugh at this postin, but brother the laugh on the managers as they pack them garbage bags and head out of town.
ha ha ha. I laughin now. By By ...LMFAO

Posted By: JB On: 4/28/2012

Title: Get the mop

Quick honey get the mop for city hall has overflowed into the press. Sounds like the City of Rockville has much cleaning to do before the city can get back to nornal.
Just how long did you people at city hall think the issues cited by former employees would stay out of the newspaper?
Every day there seems to be more and more top level senior managers mentioned either by name of department.
A new city manager must examine the whole system in city hall and get rid of the existing tainted senior management staff and any other supervisors promoted by these people.
This kind of abusive culture has been accepted by the city for too many years to simply provide new training for these people and hope the problem will go away. Sounds like the city has spent thousands of dollars on programs that simply are ignored.
What is simply amazing is the bunker mentality of city hall. Do you people really think this will just blow over? Each of you knows exactly the mess you created. You also fully know how staff were treated under your dictatorship. Yet, not one of you has done the right thing and tenderd your resignation. Seriously, how much pain will each of you inflict on the city?
The fat lady has finished her song and it is time to say SEE YA. Get my point you bunch of (FILL IN THE BLANK)

Posted By: Richie On: 4/27/2012

Title: The hatchet

Well done!
Looks like Hatchet Swift has really kept up her part of the bargan and ridded the city of the older employees.
God only knows that we don't need expierenced staff only ones that follow orders and bow down to the master that they serve. "Thank you master may I have another" (Animal House the movie)

Posted By: Steven M On: 4/27/2012

Title: Someone call the plumber

Someone needs to call the plumber since the s&$@ has backed up in Rockville. The abusive behavior must be flushed down the drain immediately!
Really... this is not funny as it seems many lives have been ruined in the name of just getting a paycheck.
It seems to me that criminals in prisions have more protections than those who work the the city. Is the land occupied by city hall zoned for a tortue chamber?
Then we have poor Mr. Vargas. Mr. Vargas, how in the heck did this happen under your watch? Did you even try to help?
It sounds like we had a 2 bit Despot Devil Dictator running the show, and those who did not sell their soul would be fired. I wonder??? Could I be onto something here?

Posted By: Alec On: 4/27/2012

Title: Stay tuned

The Rockville channel should be great Monday evening. We are hoping that citizens come forward and speak to the M&C about the serious issues identified in these articles.
6:00 pm AGENDA
Executive Session pursuant to Sections 10-508(a)(1)(ii) and Section 10-508(a)(7) of the State Government Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland to discuss a personnel matter (independent personnel review); and to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice regarding mandatory referral.
April 30, 2012 Budget Worksession #3: Public Works (operating and CIP) and Community Planning Development Services Departments
Oh goodie, this means Ms. Swift and crew will be speaking to M&C. This should be great to watch.
Break out the pizza and popcorn, for the entertainment is going to be good. Maybe I need to break out the tissues and Pepto also.
Hopefully there will be a statement from the Mayor to us citizens about the investigator selection.
I tend to agree that the people who come forward need complete protection. If their names are released I can just imagine how bad it will get for them.
The city by the actions or inactions has proven that upper management cannot be trusted. Hopefully the Mayor and Council being sworn into their positions take the oath of office seriously.

Posted By: No Way I'm Giving My Name On: 4/27/2012

Title: Current Employee

I am a current employee and am scared to death. I come every day, on time or early, do my job and exceed the written standards that were given to me. But my supervisor does not like me, always questions my decision making and has let it be known that she is not happy that I take a week long vacation with my kids in June every year. I have worked my butt off and now feel like it could all come crashing down because of a supervisor who is out of touch that was brought in three years ago.
The comment about the R&P Director Burt Hall is DEAD ON. I do not work in the department, but have walked by and heard how demeaning he is to his staff and how his "hench" woman across the hall does all of his dirty work.
The City needs a wake up call and hopefully this seried of articles in the Sentinel helps fix things. We all had to go through customer service training a few years back, and it was excellent. However, it didn't talk enough about dealing with each other as it did with our constituents. I am also pretty sure the department heads did not have to do these workshops.
This City is in desperate need of leadership. I would like to blame it all on Scott Ullery, but if you watch the Mayor and Council in action and see how disfunctional they can act at times, you can see how it trickles down through the Supervision of the City.
I love the City and have loved my time here, but have recently put in resumes for 4 other jobs and am not sure if I can take this any longer.
Keep up the reporting, it will be beneficial in the long run.

Posted By: Related to LMAO. No way they will fire me. On: 4/26/2012

Title: Get it Done!

Come on Jenny we have read between the lines. With all due respect, you have done NOTHING to help imporve anything since the well timed departure of Scott.
In fact, it is business as usual in the city.
How can we trust that you will conduct a fail investigation?
It is time for a positive change and the restoration of employee rights. I wonder if this is why Rich left HR and Scott installed his minion??? Many left HR like Mary Kate, Mary and Penny. The risk manager position staffing keeps on changing.
I guess morale in HR is in the dumper like the rest of city hall.
At least Rich tried to help people. His door was always open.
I want to thank the former staff for having the courage to come forward and give us a fighting chance. Ever since the article many are seeing the possibility for change.

Posted By: Jim Bob On: 4/26/2012

Title: Do not make me laugh

According to Communications Manager Marylou Berg, “I think it’s inappropriate for [The Sentinel] to show up and expect an interview with the [acting city manager],” said Berg. “It may be important to you, but she has a city to run.”
You mean to tell me that if Kimball speaks to the news media that the city will stop operation??? I bet when she is off the city runs just fine. After all many of the supervisors have down pat how to kick the employee when they are down.
This is a classic bob and weave response from someone who is clearly over her head. No tears from sorry Ms. Kimball.

Posted By: Donald Duck City Employee On: 4/26/2012

Title: Sad for my friends

"I too have a wonderful supervisor but that person who just retired from the graphics had Mary Lou as her supervisor. I saw her come out of her yearly review a month or two ago in tears. I think she too was worked over. Hopefully she will say something.
Public Works had two young ladies quit. Both went to WSSC. The one worked at the front counter and she did not like her supervisor and the other was an engineer who just quit two weeks ago.
What happened to that nice man in Inspection Services who moved here from Florida? All of a sudden he was gone."
You are so correct. The problem in city hall is not limited to HR & CPDS as it is rampant through out the org. The city it seems does not care about experience so long as a warm body in a chair to blame.
The director of Recs and Parks constantly gets red face and yells at staff. This was reported to HR and yet he is still here. The guy has been with the city for a long time and he has two faces. The one that the public/Mayor and Council see and the other side that sends him off to punch walls and yell. That's right buddy! U know who I'm talking about. Maybe U should leave also!

The problem in Public Works is also true. Several have left and went to WSSC. The woman supervisor treats staff like dirt. The director of PW according to the rumor mill will be making an application to become the new Scott. OH BOY!!
Morale in the out buildings seem somewhat better since the dictators are contained in city hall.
I had heard about the person in Graphics supervised by Marylou. She had been with the city for many years also. They had a small retirement party for her but I did not go. She must have retired early.

We all wondered what happened to the replacement Chief of ISD, but no one will really talk about it. It is rumored that Swift sent him packing because he Did Not Fit In" What the hell does that mean? He seemed to be a nice guy. Hey maybe that was the real problem is that people liked him. He only lasted a couple of months so I did not have much interaction with him.
Many staff have jumped ship in CPDS as it seems to be a true hell hole from what is said in city hall. Very few are happy or just do not want to discuss the current climate.

The people in ISD seemed to be real happy and cheerful when Charlie was running the division. I hear that Swift beat him up real bad. He was well liked in the city. Anyone notice how different Charlie looks after leaving the city? Leaving the city makes you look younger.
Many are thinking about talking to the investigators, but like has been said we need protection. If the managers find out our names we are history.
What I love seeing is the the director in Finance. The guy has his office right as you enter the space where the payroll counter is located. He watches when the staff report to work like old Scrooge with his pocket watch. Don't get caught in traffic or he will doc you an hour pay. The staff in that department just look so sad. Several long time employees are also treated like U know what.
There is no cheer in city hall anymore. We all have to watch our backs.
Ask about the tens of thousands of tax dollars spent to train new staff in LEED and HPO just to have the managers still manage from the top down. We all understand the directors are exempt from the rules of the minions.
I cannot wait to blow the lid off all the abuse that has been going on behind the walls of city hall.
What the readers see here is not even the tip of the iceberg! Finally we may see justice and an end of the terror.
I may post some additional comments soon.

Posted By: Bernie On: 4/26/2012

Title: Rockville on shaky ground

Every week there is a new story. Looks like the earthquate center is located on Maryland Ave.
Here is a question: How will the outside company treat the people coming forward? You can bet if the city wants to scare off employees from talking they will get a agressive undermining twit that will cross examine every word.
Staff must feel at ease when talking to these investigators. Heck I don't even work for the city and can smell a double cross.

Posted By: Capt. Tugg... Toot Toot On: 4/26/2012

Title: We have run aground

Attention crew! Atention cred.... Mayday Mayday Mayday.
The USS Rockville has run aground after Capt Ullery abandoned ship last December to move on to a life of leisure.
According to the reports Ms. Kimball the second in command could not steer the ship from the ROCKY shoals.
Right now the rest of the crew is scrambling faster than the first mate trying to get off the Titanic. We hear that the firm would be selected by this week, and now all we get is more we are still looking.
Clearly, if the employees both current and former are to come forward this must be completely independent of Ms. Kimball and the other managers.
Reading through the comments being posted by city employees has to make everyone sick.
What will come of the investigation?
Is it business as usual in city hall?
How will the city see that the employees are protected and safe if they come forward?
The message could end up with the city spin of well all we had were claims and there is no basis for what was said. I truthfully smell another city cover up.
The truth is that Rockville has been caught with proof and they don't know how to respond.
Ann Robbins is correct you cannot get an answer from city hall.
One thing is for sure and that the City of Rockville is not the Good Ship Lollipop!
Starting to look more like a drifting ole garbage scow to this reader.


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