Chris & Mark “Get Real” With Commissioner Gilbert (B.J.) Bowling On Federal Civil Rights Complaint In Charles County Government

CHARLES COUNTY, Md. – The BayNet’s Podcast, “Get Real with Chris & Mark,” centers around tough conversations about life in Southern Maryland. With the insight into recent news, Chris Hill and Mark Frisco, the podcast hosts, invited Charles County Commissioner Gilbert (B.J.) Bowling[D] on the show to talk about the censure of his fellow commissioner.

While debriefing on the subject, Bowling recapped, “We had some instances that happened in county government where one of our county commissioners was not being the most ethical and pleasant person in the world. There were some emails that went back-and-forth were brought to the attention of the board.”

“We took it into closed session under personnel, and we decided that we needed to have an independent outside person investigate to say that there wasn’t any bias in the investigation,” Bowling continued.

“June 2020, came back to the board of commissioners with her (independent investigator) findings, and she found that one of our commissioners engaged in a pattern of bullying, racial discrimination, and harassment of a county employee.”

After the investigation findings, in a closed session, the board of commissioners had to vote unanimously to censure the commissioner, limiting their powers.

Secondly, they had to have a unanimous vote to say the name of the commissioner under the censure publicly. The vote was not unanimous, keeping names protected.

If this happened in 2020, why is it coming up now? Bowling explained that the night before their first meeting with the new Commissioner Ralph E. Patterson II, there was an undiscussed and last-minute agenda change. Commissioner Amanda Stewart[D] raised concerns over the agenda changes during the meeting, citing potential violations of the Maryland Open Meetings Act.

“I went to the computer, and I saw that it had been changed very last minute, all they have been wiped off, and I had close session personnel matter,” Bowling explained. “I wanted legal advice before we went to the closed session for personnel matter so we could have the new commissioner review the investigation… they wouldn’t even let us do that.”

“I noticed that the new commissioner voted against going in with an attorney. I don’t know why you would want to do that. As someone in that position, why would you vote against being briefed by an attorney on something that you don’t know about, but you’re about to vote on,” replied Mark.

“Unless somebody ethically did something wrong, that new commissioner should not have been privy to any of that information because it’s not something that the public had, so he was just a member of the public before this meeting,” said Bowling. “So, to say you had all the information in hand was inaccurate, and it really takes away from the validity.”

“There’s a bigger picture here. At what point does the public have the right to know? Because we had an election, and that information could have had consequences,” Chris bought up.

“There’s a lot of people that have challenged me on that and tell them, listen, I can’t pick and choose when I’m ethical. I have to do it all the time,” replied Bowling.

What surprised Chris & Mark was that in a conventional work setting, one would be immediately dismissed from their position. They were baffled that the same standards wouldn’t hold up for a county commissioner.

Bowling explained, “As a commissioner, you literally sign a four-year contract that they can’t revoke. You don’t have to show up to a single meeting.”

“Honestly, there should be standards. Let’s be real. There needs to be standards. You’re a voice for the county,” Chris exclaimed.

Commissioner Bowling and Commissioner Stewart filed a Federal Civil Rights Complaint on the matter.

“The question at hand is, does that order that we put in place in the last administration carry over to the next one,” said Bowling.

“It has had a tremendous effect on county employees. County employees are struggling right now because they want to work in an environment where they feel like the right thing is going to be done, no matter what their skin color is, what their sexual orientation is, or any of that. That we are going to treat every employee with respect,” Bowling concluded.

The next Charles County Commissioners meeting will take place on January 10, 2023.

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Once a week, Century 21 New Millennium Realtors Chris Hill and Mark Frisco ‘Get Real’ with topics surrounding life in Southern Maryland while showcasing local business tastings and highlighting hidden gems in the area.

The “Get Real with Chris & Mark” Podcast premieres a new episode every Friday at noon.

You can watch or listen to previous episodes at: www.thebaynet.com/podcasts

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Katie Callander

Writer, Photographer

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1 Comment

  1. The rules for Commissioner ethics, performance, attendance, limitations, etc., need to be updated and changed.

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