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Confusion continues in Rockville

Acting City Manager unsure of exit interview for HR Director

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Published on: Thursday, June 14, 2012

By Christa Puccio

ROCKVILLE – The acting city manager said she does not know if the department of human resources (HR) conducted an exit interview for the chief of human resources who recently resigned.

“I talked to Carlos before he left and HR does exit interviews,” said Jenny Kimball, acting city manager.  “I know they talked about it, but I didn’t follow up.  I don’t know the end result.”

A civic activist criticized Kimball’s lack of knowledge on the topic.  “It is unconscionable that even though Ms. Kimball has stated that an exit interview was conducted, she now is unclear as to whether this actually occurred or was conducted in accordance with the framework of Mr. Vargas’ employment contract,” said Drew Powell a long-time Rockville activist.  “Ms. Kimball failed in her fiduciary duty to the Mayor and Council and therefore the citizens of Rockville.”

The City of Rockville is in its sixth week of an ongoing investigation into allegations of racial, sexual and age discrimination among members of the city’s management staff.  Carlos Vargas, the chief human resources officer of the city, resigned on May 11 and called it quits on June 1.  Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio said she and other members of the council were unaware of his resignation until June 2, the day following his departure.

“The acting city manager, Jennifer Kimball's recent handling of the exiting of the Human Resources Director, Carlos Vargas, seems to defy common sense –that Ms. Kimball would not tell the mayor and council what was happening in a timely way is practically a dereliction of duty, in many people's eyes,” said former councilmember Anne Mahoney Robbins.  “Her concern seemed to circle around Vargas… Does she understand her new relationship to the staff and mayor and council?  Her actions indicate otherwise.”

According to the city’s policies and procedures for clearance of terminating employees, “Department Directors and contract employees must give notice as outlined in their employment contract. Division head level employees must give 30-days written notice to leave the City in good standing.”  

But, according to a statement provided by Marylou Berg, communications director, department directors are not governed by the policy and procedures provisions for division head level employees, but are governed by the provisions of their contracts.

“Department directors are at-will contract employees with the City and report directly to the city manager,” according to Berg.  “The city manager has the authority to determine an appropriate departure date for a department director who leaves the City.”

The city’s policies and procedures also states, “Employees will receive notice of an exit interview and receive instruction as to their rights and privileges concerning benefits,” but, according to Berg, that is not required either.

“City employees are not required to have an exit interview,” said Berg.  “Ms. Kimball had an interview with Mr. Vargas that included a plan for the interim period.”

Powell disagreed.  “As the highest-paid, appointed, senior, city official, the City Manager, in this case, Acting City Manager, Jennifer Kimball, had a fiduciary duty to the Mayor and Council, a duly elected governmental body, for which she serves,” said Powell.  “A fiduciary duty is defined as a legal and/or ethical relationship of confidence or trust between two or more parties.  In this case, that duty, required Ms. Kimball to inform the Mayor and Council of Mr. Vargas’ resignation in a timely fashion, to absolutely inform the Mayor and Council of Mr. Vargas’ resignation prior to his physical departure and lastly to exercise the legally binding stipulations under the employment contract between Mr. Vargas and the City of Rockville, which included a formal exit interview.”

Kimball said the resignation of the chief of human resources is “not impacting” the investigation.  “Saul Ewing is continuing its investigation as originally defined, regardless of what any individual employees do,” said Kimball.

According to Berg, Vargas is eligible for all employee benefits, in accordance with his contract, as outlined here:

Berg also stated no other department heads have resigned or retired.

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Reader Comments - 10 Total

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Posted By: Bill On: 6/25/2012

Title: Seriously?!

Seriously?! What a bunch of BS! Charlie, you sure sound disgruntled for a "retiree." Just be happy that you are "retired" and stop bad mouthing everyone else in the City. The people that had to work with you know the truth.Talk about harassment... What do you call blind copying your wife and an employee's co-workers in emails regarding personnel issues? Just shut up and go away! The people working in City Hall are better off without you, and IMHO, so are the citizens of Rockville.

Posted By: Staff 3 again On: 6/22/2012

Title: Defending a good man

Timekeeper listen up and hear what I am going to say to your sorry _____!
I have known Charlie Baker for many years and he is far from a glory hound. For you to make a snooty statement that even suggest his motives is nothing more than a person seeking his 15 minutes of fame really ticks me off. Quite to the contrary, I don't think you will find many in city hall that think any of the staff who have spoken out are in this for the spotlight.
Timekeeper could you be one of the managers mentioned in these articles? Now which director watches the staff like a timekeeper? Scrooge is this you posting?
Just wait and see if the investigators do their job and report the true facts of what many of us have told them. If I were a manager I would be looking for boxes after what the investigators have been told. Many staff have spilled all sorts of dirt about the managers. For example; not using leave and taking two hour lunches. That's right you know exactly who you are and now so does the investigators. Kimball will not be able to protect you once the new manager is hired.
Follow the example of ole Vargas and don't let the door hit you in the butt.
The citizens of Rockville can now see what exactly the high paid stooges called senior staff are all about thanks to the retired employees who came forward to the Sentinel.
The only senior staff I have any respect for is the Chief and Mike Cannon in IT. Both of these guys seem to be fair and decent people. All the others like Kimball, Berg, and especially the hated Swift must be fired.
The person I really feel sorry for it the city attorney and her staff. Can you imagine trying to defend the position of the city when their own Policy and Procedures Manual prohibits much of what the city has done to the employees.
Have a great day managers!

Posted By: Tim Buckley On: 6/22/2012

Title: One in every crowd

Isn't your 15 minutes up Baker? It seems like your only concern is keeping this thing going. Disgruntled employee? Sure seems like it."
What I would like to say to you Timekeeper cannot be printed. There is no glory in these articles, nor have I read anything said by Mr. Baker that would indicate he is out for 15 min of fame. To the contrary what I see is a group of former retired employees who have stood up to a system of abuse and came forward to the Sentinel to tell the true story about life in a brutal system hell bent to rid the city of the most experienced staff.
As Mr. Johnson stated, Mr. Baker keep on commenting and pay no mind to fools like Timekeeper.
Try to imagine spending many years in a place of employment while all around you there are fellow employees being harassed and mistreated. Imagine a HR department that refuses to enforce the regulations and is supportive of condoning and hiding the abuses.
I strongly suggest that if you are to make future comments here that you use your real name and not hide behind a fictitious name.
Now to the city!
I really want to know how much longer the Mayor and Council of Rockville will allow city staff to lie and spread misinformation?
From what I have been reading Rockville is a city out of control and getting worse each and everyday.
I pity a new city manager who must deal with the issues cited in these articles. It took around 7 years to ruin a city, and I can just imagine that it will take many more years to rebuild the once proud All American City of yesteryear.

Posted By: Suzy Q On: 6/21/2012

Title: Its not who you know, its who you.....

In my carreer with The City of Rockville I have the pleasure of working with many wonderful people. I also have the misfortune of working with alot of really rotten ones as well.
A positive morale among employees has become a thing of the past, and has been replaced with the simple fear of losing their jobs. All thanks to many senior level managers at Rockville.
As for myself, I have serious doubts that any significant, positive change will insue as a result of this investigation. I say that due to the fact that nothing was ever done before when these claims were voiced so many times in the past.
Charles Baker said in a blog " there seems to be two seperate standards relating to employees - how true. I dont think that statement could more evident than in the Public Works Dept. My heart bleeds for the staff there. The Deputy Director of Utilities ( Judy Ding ) has already cost the city several engineers, and demoralized many of the staff by berating them in public. I have tried to pinpoint her role within the dept. however no one seems to quite know what she does. I would venture to say. . . . neither does she. In addittion to Ms. Ding there is Susan F. the P.W Administraor who has repeatedly been caught in sexual situations during work hours, on city property including in front of the Police station. She was reported to H.R, her boss was notified over and over, and she is still an employee. I wonder how she managed to keep her job. Perhaps The Sentinel can ask her boss Craig Simoneau to comment.

Posted By: Carl S. Johnson On: 6/21/2012

Title: Oh no!

Mr. Baker, keep up exposing the issues in the city of Rockville. As a citizen of Rockville I would like to say thank you for exposing the issues at city hall.
This "THING" as you put it Mr. Timekeeper must keep going in order to force change in the city.
I have been following the issues being reported by the Sentinel and what I see is someone who cares about what is happening to the employees in Rockville.
Have a great day, and find something else to do rather than attempt to run down other people. I suggest going over to one of the blogs and busting on people over there.

Posted By: John T. Brookings On: 6/21/2012


I suggest you take a serious look at the comments and issues before opening your pie hole. More than one employee is commenting, in fact I have several comments under these articles and will continue to voice my opinions until this issue is finally resolved.
What amazes me is that other than you there has been nothing but support for the efforts of city employees.
At least Mr. Baker has the courage to post under his name and not hide like a little coward behind a stage name. I suggest that if you want to blast someone stand up and put on the big boy pants and call out Mr. Baker to his face.
Mr. Baker and the others have spoken out and continue to speak out against a system of abuse that was sanctioned at the highest levels of the city.
Crwal back under your rock timekeeper.
Oh me oh my, are you a manager at city hall?
LOL Timekeeper your 1 second of fame is up!

Posted By: Buff On: 6/21/2012

Title: To Timekeeper

Would you rather have the employees keep this thing up. All of what "Baker" is bringing up is true! You must not work for the City or you are a Manager (Ms. Berg) to have that opinion. I understand the M&C are doing what they can do but they need to take back total control. If the Mayor says "I want" the City Manager should be doing all in "their" power to provide it not hiding information.

Posted By: Confused Employee On: 6/20/2012

Title: Slap In the Face and Violated

What a slap in the face to the Mayor and Council. They must feel totally violated. The Director of HR disappears and they aren’t informed until after his departure.
I am amazed that the M&C haven’t initiated disciplinary action. Employees are disciplined for lesser offenses.
Apparently there are two sets of Customer Service Standards; one for the employees and one for management. Definitely not a good example for employees. Employees are held to the City’s Customer Service Standards.
I hope the M&C disciplines this violation of everything Rockville stands for.

Posted By: Timekeeper On: 6/19/2012

Title: Times up

Isn't your 15 minutes up Baker? It seems like your only concern is keeping this thing going. Disgruntled employee? Sure seems like it.

Posted By: Charles Baker, Retired Chief of Inspection Services On: 6/14/2012

Title: Interesting fact

Funny that according to records obtained by a MPIA request, Mr. Vargas was required to give 30 day's written notice according to his signed contract with the city.
"An Executive Employee's employment with the City may be terminated either by the city manager or the employee with 30 day's written notice by either party"
PIO Quote:
“Department directors are at-will contract employees with the City and report directly to the city manager,” according to Berg. “The city manager has the authority to determine an appropriate departure date for a department director who leaves the City.”
It would be interesting to see the section cited in the city HR manual or the contract approved for senior level staff that allows for alternate departure date. I'm no expert in contracts but this sure raises some very interesting questions. It does appear that the city seems to have two seperate standards relating to employees.
Very interesting indeed!


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