ROCKVILLE – Rockville is one manager down after action this week.
The city manager fired the director of Community Planning and Development Services March 3, spokesperson Marylou Berg confirmed.
“I made a change in the best interest of the organization and the City,” City Manager Rob DiSpirito said Monday. “I feel that the department needed new direction and a fresh start.”
“I was never one of her fans,” former Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio said of Swift.
“I have to say I’m glad the City is moving on,” said Marcuccio. “The City needs new leadership in many departments. I was delighted we have a new city manager.”
DiSpirito became the Rockville City Manager in January.
Andy Gunning became the acting director of Community Planning and Development Services on March 3, Berg said.
The firing comes after at least one former City employee previously sued Rockville and alleged that Swift and other staff discriminated against them based on race, including with regard to salary.
Following a two-year Sentinel investigation into the allegations of discrimination against Rockville by multiple former City employees, the City paid $190,000 for an investigation by law firm Saul Ewing LLC, but the report remains sealed due to a confidentiality agreement with the City. The firm investigated working conditions for employees and the report included interviews of both former and current City employees.
Former City employee Courtney Morgan, represented in the case by attorney Terry Morris, said in a deposition filed July 1, 2014 that white employees with positions that had similar levels of responsibility received tens of thousands of dollars more than he did per year, the Sentinel reported. He also alleged that Swift fired him due to his race, and that she did not explain to him the reasons for his termination prior to letting him go. He said white employees made racial comments about the accents and hair of employees of other races.
District Court Judge George Hazel dismissed Morgan’s complaint in March 2015, however.
Morris learned of the news regarding Swift Wednesday.
“I agree with the City; they do need a breath of fresh air in that department,” Morris said.
City Council member Mark Pierzchala offered no opinion on the firing of Swift but was not convinced whether the department needed a change of direction.
“I think it’s not a matter of direction,” said Pierzchala regarding the staffing change, later adding, “I think the department is staffed just fine. Susan is no longer there and that’s a personnel matter.”
He said he believes staff in Community Planning and Development Services is adequate to manage the department.
“I have utmost confidence in the current planning staff,” Pierzchala said.
“From what I could see as a council member, I had very few issues with the department,” he added.
Updated (3/28/17): Originally the story said Council member Mark Pierzchala said he didn’t agree with firing Swift or that the department needed a change of direction. The story now reflects that Rockville City Council member Mark Pierzchala offered no opinion for or against the firing of Swift.