A panel to review Rockville’s charter will comprise 11 members, the City Council decided after a lengthy and sometimes contentious debate on Monday.
Each of the four council members will choose one panel member, whose appointment cannot be vetoed. The mayor and council together will select another five members. Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio will select an 11th member, the chairperson.
Marcuccio last month.
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The appointment process, proposed by Councilman Mark Pierzchala, was a compromise that broke a council deadlock after about 45 minutes of debate.
The commission will examine the city election calendar, term lengths for the mayor and council and the number of members on the council and will make recommendations to the council by the end of the year.
The council will review the panel’s recommendations and decide which questions to put to voters on the November 2013 ballot. The referenda will be nonbinding, and it will be up to the council to decide which changes to make to the charter.
Residents, including , called for appointments to the commission to be made after an open call for volunteers.
Councilman Tom Moore offered a resolution on Monday that called for the council to allow city residents to apply to serve on the panel using procedures prescribed in the city’s “Guidelines and Procedures for Citizen Boards and Commissions.”
Moore on Rockville Patch last week.
Moore’s formal resolution on Monday called for the panel to comprise no more than 15 members. Under Moore's proposal, council members and the mayor would each select three members. Once formed, the panel would select its chairperson.
The council voted 3-2 against Moore’s resolution, with Moore and Pierzchala voting for it.
The discussion was not without controversy. Pierzchala said that when Marcuccio said during a council meeting on April 10 that she had it was a “politicization of the process.”
Moore, when it became apparent that his resolution did not have the votes needed to pass, said that the appointment process amounted to a “power grab by a majority on this Mayor and Council.”
Councilman John Hall disagreed.
“There is no majority on this Mayor and Council,” Hall said. “We’ve proven that with our split votes tonight.”
The council has yet to discuss a deadline for applications, Moore said in an email on Tuesday.
“We have to advertise the position for a set amount of time,” he said. “I expect that we will choose the commission's members very quickly once all the applications are in."
Mayor: City finalizing firm to probe former employees' claims
The council received an update in a closed session on Monday from acting city manager Jennifer Kimball and city attorney Debra Verg Daniel on the city’s investigation into , Marcuccio said.
Marcuccio read a prepared statement during the public portion of Monday’s meeting that said: “They—meaning our acting city manager and city attorney—are proceeding quickly to procure an outside law firm to complete the work. After considering several options they are currently in the process of entering into a contract with a preferred firm.”
In an article in The Sentinel this week, Marcuccio pledged that employees coming forward as part of the investigation would be “protected.”
The Sentinel , ranging from managers who were required to change performance evaluations to racist comments from supervisors.
In an interview with Rockville Patch last week, Councilman John Hall said that the council has discussed what hiring an outside firm would cost, but would not disclose the price tag.
“I think members of the governing body have all been focused on this,” Hall said. Because the matter involves personnel issues it is therefore covered by state law allowing discussions to be held out of the public eye, he said.
“Not to put too fine a point on it: You don’t want to screw it up,” Hall said.
With city managers and employee rights involved, “This is not one where you hop up on the dais and start shooting your mouth off,” he said, adding that the investigation must be “by the numbers.”