Sunday, December 08, 2013 4:52 AM
Published on: Thursday, November 08, 2012
By Christa Puccio
ROCKVILLE – After allegations of mistreatment and racism towards employees within City Hall, the City hired a law firm to investigate the matters which was to conclude in August, but then extended to conclude on Oct. 31, now the City said the firm will not have the report until late November.
“They asked for an extension I think to the third week in November, I can’t tell you the exact date,” said Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio. “Obviously we are anxious to have the information, but we’ve got to allow them the time to get it done. So, I think we’re in another, in a way, holding period.”
Rockville originally entered into a contract with Saul Ewing LLP on May 4 for $90,000 dollars to investigate the claims of improper conduct and unfair treatment by city employees. The contract and investigation was originally to wrap up August 15, but at a City Council meeting on Aug. 6, the Mayor and Council agreed to extend the contract to Oct. 31 for an amount not to exceed $190,000 – an extra $100,000.
On Oct. 31, Marylou Berg, a spokesperson for the city, said, “As of now, no report has been issued to the City by Saul Ewing. Although this was scheduled to occur by the last day of October, Saul Ewing has requested an extension of the contract’s completion date due to circumstances unrelated to the work being performed for Rockville. No other revisions to the contract (i.e., cost, scope of work) have been requested. We expect to receive the report and the manual revisions within the next 30 days.”
Berg continued, “We recognize this issue is of interest to your readers, and the City strives to be as transparent as possible. However, personnel matters are not a matter of public record and the City is legally and ethically prohibited from disclosing information about personnel matters. Accordingly, we will not be able to comment on any personnel matter that may be contained in the report once received.”
Saul Ewing LLP did not return phone calls and neither did Debra Daniel, Rockville’s city attorney.
Berg’s closed her statement with, “As always, if you have MPIA requests, please direct them to Louise Atkins (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please remember that MPIA requests are limited to existing documents. For more information on Rockville’s MPIA procedures, please refer to www.rockvillemd.gov/government/citymanager/mpia.html.”
Drew Powell, a civic activist, suggested Saul Ewing LLP did not fulfill its obligations agreed upon within its contract with Rockville. “In accordance with the May 4, 2012 contract between the City of Rockville and Saul Ewing LLP, Mr. Ewing’s firm agreed to perform ‘…services; in a timely, diligent and professional manner… [and] …in accordance with the time periods and/or schedule directed by the City Attorney,’ said Powell. “Additionally Mr. Ewing’s firm agreed and acknowledged ‘…that time is of the essence.’ Subsequently, Mr. Ewing’s firm was granted an extension from its original August 15, 2012 reporting deadline, along with a substantial increase in remuneration. According to Rockville City Staff, as of close of business October 31, 2012, Mr. Ewing’s report is now overdue. Given the time elapsed and six figure expense, will taxpayers and City employees receive an answer concerning allegations of discrimination by City Managers or will this be yet another example of waste and obfuscation? The ‘Rockville way.’”
Marcuccio said there will be no repercussions for Saul Ewing not completing the report as originally scheduled. “At this point I think the most appropriate thing is to give them the additional time and let’s see if we can’t get that report,” said Marcuccio.