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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 5:14 AM

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Rockville Council At Odds With Voters


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Published on: Thursday, April 25, 2013

By Holden Wilen

ROCKVILLE – Despite the cries of city residents and even a city employee, members of the city’s governing body are still adamant that they should not view a report they voted to pay for regarding possible sexual harassment and abuse by city supervising staff of city employees.

Steven VanGrack, an attorney and a former mayor for the city, said the mayor and council should view the report and if they will not, then a third party should at least review the report for the city.

Councilmember Mark Pierzchala disagreed and said Saul Ewing LLP, the firm which conducted the investigation into employee complaints, was that third party. Pierzchala said Saul Ewing is a professional company which specializes in these types of investigations and that when representatives from the company reported to the mayor and council they found no unlawful conduct.

VanGrack said Saul Ewing’s job was not to be an independent third party at all.

“Saul Ewing was the investigator,” VanGrack said. “They did the research. Saul Ewing is not an independent eye of the mayor and council. Saul Ewing was paid a handsome fortune to do a report as an investigator. They are not independent. An independent individual or entity on behalf of the mayor and council is very different from Saul Ewing.  Saul Ewing’s job was as an investigator. They are giving the report. What the report says should go to the mayor and council.”

Councilmember Tom Moore said the mayor and council are simply not allowed to read the report. Additionally, Moore said the mayor and council members are not human resources managers, and those responsibilities fall to City Manager Barbara Matthews.  Moore, as well as the rest of the members of the mayor and council all said the city manager, Matthews, is the chief executive of the city.

“(The report) is a personnel matter and (Matthews) is the top person in the city with personnel responsibility,” Moore said. “We have to make sure she is doing a good job with her job of exercising those personnel responsibilities but it is not our job to exercise personnel responsibilities. It is just not.”

Councilmember John Hall also said if employees think their privacy was violated by their names being in the report then it is an issue with Saul Ewing and even more reason for the mayor and council to not see the report.

“Why make it worse by enlarging the universe of people to whom privileged information was inappropriately disclosed?” Hall said.

Pierzchala said the employee misunderstood something and it “is too bad.”

The role of the mayor and council as elected officials is to provide a policy direction for the city, Hall said. In this case, Hall said the mayor and council are to ensure the findings and recommendations made by Saul Ewing are handled accordingly by the city manager.

Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio said there is no doubt unelected officials in the city have more power than the elected officials in this situation and that it is the mayor and council’s to make policy to fix the situation..

“We depend on the staff to be as professional as they possibly can,” Marcuccio said. “If there is something wrong and it is brought to our attention it certainly behooves us to do something about it. We have got to remedy the situation. In a way that is what I felt about this Saul Ewing issue. We know what we need to do, now let’s fix it.”

At the mayor and council meeting on Monday, Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio said she has asked Matthews to come up with an implementation plan for how the actions relating to the recommendations from Saul Ewing are going to take place. It is important something be done to show things are moving forward, she said.

VanGrack said he does not understand why the city paid $200,000 and only three people have seen the report. The allegations of discrimination and racism were too serious for the mayor and council to not look at the report because it involves their relationship with city employees.

“This is about whether the city of Rockville employees can trust their city government and whether the mayor and council intervene to make sure that occurs,” VanGrack said.

Reader Comments - 9 Total

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Posted By: Kristine H. On: 5/1/2013

Title: Cover Up from the Ground Up

Burt Hall - gone
Carlos Vargas - gone
Scott Ullery - gone
coincidence.....I think not......these guys saw the writing on the wall and ran like thieves in the night while they could.........who else left.......I would be interested in seeing the latest retention numbers for employees. I know many who have left or are desperately trying to leave in a bad economy.

Posted By: Escaped Employee On: 5/1/2013

Title: Rescue the Inmates

A year and $200,000 later, and the asylum hasn’t changed. The inmates are starving for justice. Management is still swinging their whip, but now with a snicker on their face that says we won, you lost, obey or else.
Power for managers has been reinforced by the Saul Ewing investigative report that supposedly found no problems in the asylum, so we’ve been told. The Mayor and Council spent taxpayers’ money to save face, but have no power to receive/read the report.
Who’s insane? Who will rescue the inmates?

Posted By: Chris B. On: 4/30/2013

Title: Marion Barry for Rockville Mayor

Why on Earth are we, as citizens of Rockville, our once proud hometown, allowing these people to run our great city into the ground. Every department head should be fired. These people prance around City Hall like nothing ever happened, and we, the lower level employees, have to live in constant fear for our jobs. I cannot tell you how many people I see looking for new jobs every day. I know for a fact that several applied for jobs for Gaithersburg City. Rockville was once a grand little city, now its a joke, worthy of a Mayor like the good Marion Barry.

Posted By: Employee X On: 4/30/2013

Title: No change

There has been no change in the management style in city hall since the arrival of Barbara Matthews. In fact, we have no idea what if any changes have been made.
Barb is never seen except by the Senior Staff and a select group of people in the City Managers office like Louise Atkins.
The Human Resources Department is just muttering around waiting for leadership.
City staff who came forward are waiting for their tormentors to obtain information that was told to Saul Ewing.

The Mayor and Council continues to think Matthews is doing a GOOD job and does nothing to demand that the abusive supervisor are terminated.
Critical positions such as the Director of Human Resources remain unfilled while Barb hides in her office.
The city wishes this all to blow away and you can bet that if it was not for the Sentinel keeping up the pressure they would have succeeded.

Posted By: Sam On: 4/30/2013

Title: All American City...LOL

Rockville is a sad joke being played on the taxpayers . 200 THOUSAND dollars for a cover up that only 3 people see.
I feel sorry for the remaining staff who care forward expecting change.
What we get is politicians who make comments directed to deflect and continue the cover up. Just read this BS:
“(The report) is a personnel matter and (Matthews) is the top person in the city with personnel responsibility,” Moore said. “We have to make sure she is doing a good job with her job of exercising those personnel responsibilities but it is not our job to exercise personnel responsibilities. It is just not.”
Take a hint Moore and see that Matthews is NOT doing her job.
Quite frankly... i'm sorry that you sorry got my vote. I expected more from you Moore not more of the same. I shall not make the same mistake again!

Posted By: Thomas Spartan On: 4/26/2013

Title: A call for action!

Now is the time for the city to come clean about exactly what happened during the Ullery years of abusive management. I also want to call for the firing of the new city manager who apparently does nothing but sit on her duff and collects a huge salary. Rockville has become a regional joke, and it now on par with DC on the scandal front.
One year has brought nothing new except some senior managers who retired or left the city on their own accord.
The message is clear and it is managers can abuse, discriminate and practive racist activities and the city finds this acceptible behavior. WOW!!!!
Pierzchala is quoted as saying that the employee misunderstood something and it "is too bad".... what the heck does that mean? I suggest that employees put their careers at jeopardy and came forward at the urging of our mayor. No names were to be used and the employees would be protected Mr. Pierzchala
Matthews should be looking for another job after she refuses to fire those mentioned in the report. Matthews is nothing more than a puppet of the system.
How valuable are the remaining senior managers that they can abuse city staff and get away with it? Better yet what cards do they hold over the city?
In the end I hope justice prevails and the city is forced to make changes.

Posted By: Kimberly Ann On: 4/26/2013

Title: What a joke

The once great city continues tk fall into the gutter. No leadershop and more cover up. Redacting the names and there will be nl report sure sounds like peoples names are in the report. Who do these people report to? Why it is the mayor and council. The mayor and council report to us THE TAXPAYERS AND CITIZENS! This citizen demands this issue be resolved. I also echo the call for the new ciry mamager and city attorney to step down. GET WITH IT ROCKVILLE

Posted By: Mr. Joe Schaeffer. Rockville On: 4/26/2013

Title: Spring time clean up

What a waste of taxpayer funds this 200k report has turned out to be. Ole Barb M still does nothing in the city continues continues amok. The idiot Mark P continues to defend the city actions and refuses to support city staff claims of privacy violations. VanGrack is correct, inthe sense Saul Ewing was not a 3rd party. I think they were hired to find out what the overalll city liability is. How long will the MC allow Barb to act like Ullery? Wake up Mayor you are looking like a complete stooge being played by the city manager and the city attorney. 1 year and counting since these stories were exposed by former employees who were mistreated.

Posted By: Disgusted On: 4/25/2013

Title: November brings change

Fire them all. Mayor, Council, City Manager, City Attorney, Supervisors in report. Start all over.




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