California, MD — Fallout from the firing of the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission (MetCom) executive director continues to fester at the public utility agency.
Executive Director Scott Bundy originally announced his resignation but changed his mind and asked to be allowed to stay at the commission’s Aug. 25 meeting. But that request was quickly quashed by a motion from former MetCom chairman Steve Willing (shown at left) calling for Bundy’s immediate firing and asking him to turn in his keys and not return to the building.
The motion took MetCom Chairman Bryan “Puff” Barthelme by surprise. Willing’s motion carried 4-2, with members Mike Thompson and Mike Mummaugh voting against and Barthelme restricted from voting only to break a tie.
Barthelme and several county commissioners have been extremely critical about the way the matter was handled, particularly for Willing’s arranging to hire former executive director Dan Ichniowski as interim director without telling Barthelme. The hiring of Ichniowski was part of the pre-arranged motion that passed the board.
MetCom now has to hire another director which could prove to be difficult. In fact there were reports of a dustup at a Sept. 22 selection process meeting. Ichniowski and staff proposed to the commission that four members be appointed to an interview committee for the new director. One of those members was Willing.
Barthelme quickly objected saying he didn’t think Willing would be an appropriate member considering how he handled the firing of Bundy.
Barthelme said of Willing’s appointment, “I don’t think that would be a very good choice based on the way things are going around here.”
Looking at Willing, Barthelme insisted, “I don’t want this one on there.”
After the meeting Barthelme toiled the BayNet he was particularly upset about comments Willing made to the BayNet after the Aug. 25 meeting that the agency had run itself during Bundy’s “unexcused absence.” Barthelme said that Bundy had available leave time to cover his absence to travel to North Carolina for a serious family emergency. Barthelme said Willing’s comments were mean spirited.
Barthelme’s attempt to get Willing removed from the executive director selection process failed with only Mummaugh supporting him.
In addition to the MetCom members on the selection committee, Ichniowski and a county commissioner will serve as ex-officio members. There are more than 30 applicants for the position and some commission members are concerned that the turmoil at the agency will scare applicants away.
The selection committee will present several names to the full board for a final interview before the selection is made.
Later in the Sept. 22 meeting Willing called into question a consultation between Barthelme and the lawyer hired by the commission to help the agency through the minefield created by their decision to advertise for a contract attorney to replace their current attorney Jacquelyn Meiser, who makes a salary of more than $170,000 for part-time work.
Barthelme justified the consultation by saying he was unable to get advice from their current attorney Meiser.
At the Sept. 22 meeting the commission also voted to have all staff report directly to the executive director. Bundy reportedly had problems with the chain of command involving Meiser.
Contact Dick Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org