- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Charles County commissioners’ weekly meeting Tuesday ended with the latest installment of the board’s inner turmoil, when Commissioners Bobby Rucci and Debra M. Davis called out President Candice Quinn Kelly for stating that she and Commissioner Ken Robinson received less staff time than their three colleagues.
The meeting’s final agenda item began peacefully, with Kelly (D) presenting her personal initiatives to the board.
Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) suggested that Kelly only bring before the board initiatives that required county funding, and thus, its approval.
“And on the things you don’t need to get board approval, just do it,” he said. “If it’s not costing anything, and it’s your passion, go for it.”
“Is that agreeable to everyone?” Kelly asked. “I’m more than happy to do that.”
But Davis (D) raised issue with each commissioner developing initiatives without restriction.
“The only thing is the staff time. We can’t all do that because we’d have no staff left. So there has to be some limitations,” Davis said. “I mean, if Debra came back with five initiatives, and Bobby came back with five initiatives, where would staff be left?”
“I don’t agree, and here’s why,” Kelly said. “When you look at the total payroll for [the commissioners’ office], the staff time that is used by three commissioners is significantly more than the staff time that is received by Commissioner Robinson and I,” Kelly said.
“What do you mean?” Davis asked.
“I’m talking a major difference,” Kelly said.
“Tell me where,” Rucci (D) said.
“I can tell you the numbers,” Kelly said.
“Why are you dividing it?” Davis asked. “The only division has been division that you’ve requested.”
“Excuse me?” Kelly responded.
“Candice, you know that. The only division of staff has been division that you requested,” Davis said, stopping when her colleagues pointed out she could not discuss personnel matters in open session.
“Oh, I’m sorry. That’s personnel,” she said. “Sorry, but you shouldn’t open that door because that’s not true.”
“It is true, and don’t sit here and tell me something’s not true,” Kelly said. “Look at the budget. Just count it, and I’m not going to be bullied by you. It’s $67,000 to $39,000, and you have a contract that says this individual and her assistant can’t work for me, so let’s not go there, Debra.”
“You have a contract that you opted out,” Davis said. “Liar.”
“Let me just say this, folks,” Kelly said. “I’m a full-time commissioner, and there is clearly an intention here to not provide staff to me.”
“You hired this individual,” Rucci retorted, in reference to citizens’ liaison Scarlett Mower. “You didn’t want her working for you, so I don’t know where you’re coming from with this. You hired her, and now you don’t want her working for you.”
“Are you kidding me?” Kelly asked.
“No, I’m not kidding,” Rucci said.
“She’s lying,” Davis said. “It’s repulsive.”
“This is really inappropriate,” Robinson chimed in.
“You hired your own assistant, and you got rid of her, so I don’t want to get into all this,” Rucci said. “Is it being made up? I’m not stupid, Jesus. Is there a motion to adjourn?”
“So moved,” Davis and board Vice President Reuben B. Collins II (D) said.
“Before I say something,” Rucci concluded, as he walked out of the meeting room.
“I didn’t get a second,” commissioners’ clerk Denise Ferguson said, to no avail.At a Feb. 10 town hall meeting, Kelly said she originally had hired Mower on a 60-day contract, but that Mower soon signed an extension and began working exclusively for Collins, Davis and Rucci.“Ms. Mower did not want to work with me,” Kelly said then.Mower could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.