Tuesday, March 11, 2014 6:54 AM
Published on: Thursday, April 25, 2013
By Brian J. Karem
With all due respect to members of the Rockville council who continue to drag their feet in regards to an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and abuse by members of the supervisors of the city staff, one has to wonder what kind of government we have in Rockville.
The obvious and sarcastic comment would be “obviously not much.” But the continued problems in Rockville beg for a better and more analytic approach.
The problems are well known. The Montgomery County Sentinel for several months last year investigated and reported on accusations by city employees who claimed some of the supervisors there were abusing them. The city, appropriately appalled, hired an outside investigation and paid Saul Ewing LLC nearly $200,000 to conduct an investigation. This was prudent and wise. After all the city couldn’t really investigate itself and the city council had a right to know if any of the allegations made by employees were true as well as the depth of the problem inside city hall.
City employees had complained about a wide variety of supervisors to The Sentinel, not limited to but including the city attorney and several supervisors. Once Saul Ewing presented its report in October the city attorney sealed the report and no one who sits in an elected position has looked at it.
Many of them claim the city charter prevents this, but I can find nothing in reading the current city charter which precludes such a move – nor can Steve VanGrack, a former mayor and an attorney who sits as the head of the current charter review committee.
At issue are the names of employees in the report. In order to protect them the city attorney has sealed the report. There is irony in this since the employees claim the city attorney didn’t protect them when they complained in the past about the abuse by some of the city supervisory staff.
That aside, at least one employee has come forward to say there shouldn’t be any names in the report anyway because Saul Ewing said no names would be used unless the case went to court.
So, either there are names in the report – apparently a violation of an agreement between employees and Saul Ewing, or there are no names and someone is trying to pull a fast one.
Either scenario is disheartening and aggravating. What makes it worse is the continued adamant stance by city council members who are apparently too afraid to step up and take some responsibility. City staff is responsible to the city council. The Council is responsible to the people of Rockville. The council took the correct first step in asking for an investigation, but has failed miserably in following this through to its logical conclusion.
The council, therefore, is doing a great injustice to its employees – many of whom continue to leave the ranks of the city and those who do stay are crushed and chronically suffer from low morale.
There is no disputing how badly the employees in Rockville believe they’ve been treated and the continued actions by the city council continue to leave the message with the city employees that no one cares about them. This could be right or wrong, for after all appearance is not always reality. But the reality is that is exactly how the employees believe they are being treated – with a great deal of disdain and of inconsequential concern.
Councilmember John Hall said if employees think Saul Ewing violated their rights, then the employees should contact Saul Ewing. Really? What’s the council there for if not to protect and assist those who work for the city?
Mark Pierzchala said if something went wrong it’s “too bad.”
At the end of the day only three people have seen the Saul Ewing report. Are names named? Is there a violation? Did the city attorney do anything wrong? Should there be massive changes in the city?
Guess what? No one who can make a decision is able to do so because they haven’t seen the results of the report they paid for! This is like me giving my children money, asking them to go out and buy something and then when I ask for the item they purchased they tell me I can’t see it.
Let’s be straight. The city staff works to assist the elected officials. It isn’t the other way around and nowhere in the charter or in any city government anywhere in the United States have I ever seen it the other way around.
Rockville remains, on paper, a representative government responsible to its residents. In reality that isn’t the case. The employees of the city and the residents continue to suffer by this lack of leadership.
Posted By: Matt. On: 5/9/2013
When will the city change?
When will the city managerr start doing her job?
When will we read good stories abiut happy employees?
Never cause the city just does not care.
Elections are.for change and it sure is high time to vote the bums out. Mark P there is no way you should be mayor!
Posted By: Catlin Fox On: 5/7/2013
Title: Too Bad
What is too bad is that our city leaders (NOT) are hiding behind the Saul Ewjng cover up report. What is too bad that many people had to endure brutal illegal treatment by tyrants in managers positions. What is too bad is that we have a bunch of rejects on the city council. I had hoped that Hall and Newton would have demanded the new city manager fire the remaining directors to show good faith that change was going to happen and the good old days will not be acceptible.
I sure hope the Sentinel keeps up the pressure on you clowns.
Posted By: Martha Matthews On: 4/30/2013
Title: FRONT PAGE
This article is hard to find and should be on the front page since it goes right to the point of the issues in Rockytown.
Now to my point!
We should demand that the report be released since our tax dollars paid for it. The leaders in Rockytown should be ashamed of the actions reported by the Sentinel and through reports from current and former city employees.
We the citizens see right through the smoke screen thrown up by the city via the Saul Ewing report information that was released.
Clearly there are some huge issues in Rockytown that are being hidden. if no real issues were found then why the attitude on not releasing the report?
Posted By: Taxpayer On: 4/26/2013
Title: City Investiaged Itself
Sounds like the City did investigate itself. The accused wrote the scope of work, the accused received the results, the accused sealed the results and the accused are still laughing. The taxpayers financed an investigation to benefit managers and nothing has changed in City Hall.