- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Charles County commissioners will hire a professional mediator to help resolve disputes that contributed to the majority’s decision two weeks ago to strip the board president of most of her powers.
The suggestion, made by Commissioner Bobby Rucci (D) during the weekend, was unanimously approved at the commissioners’ Tuesday morning meeting.
Mediation could lead the board to change some of the provisions in the April 10 resolution that instructed commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) not to speak on behalf of the board or make any financial decision without formal board approval, Kelly said.
“One of the issues I think is important for our citizens to know is … [there are] many things in Resolution 2012-18 that may not even be necessary to be in there after conciliation and/or mediation, and the recommendation that I had asked for in my response is a professional mediator [or] conciliator who could create conditions that would place all commissioners in an environment that’s safe, neutral and fair, thereby ensuring no commissioner is placed in a defensive position,” Kelly said.
Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) suggested that mediation be conducted in open session, but County Attorney Barbara Holtz advised keeping those discussions private.
Any matter “relating to pending or potential litigation I would say is a judgmental one. I would normally advise anything about pending or potential litigation be done in closed session,” she said, referring to a lawsuit Kelly’s attorneys have drafted, but not filed, seeking an injunction from Charles County Circuit Court to prevent the resolution from being enforced.
Kelly suggested that the commissioners find a mediator, then decide whether or not to meet behind closed doors.
Kelly referred questions about the lawsuit to Greenbelt attorney Bruce L. Marcus, who said the suit would not be filed as long as mediation seemed to be proceeding “in good faith.”
“It is our hope that the mediation process will have an opportunity to address many of the questions and concerns which were originally raised in our lawsuit. To the extent that the mediation process is successful in allowing a revised resolution to be enacted, there’s no need for, there would be no need for judicial action,” Marcus said.
Mediation will not affect Commissioner Reuben B. Collins II’s call last week for an independent investigation of Kelly, Collins (D) and Marcus said independently.
Last Tuesday, Collins accused Kelly of a possible “criminal” act for allegedly seeking access to his county government personnel file, including tax filings, as part of an investigation.
“Since the issues of the resolution are the ones that are under the control and influence of President Kelly, those are the only ones that we can really speak to. We don’t really control what anyone else does nor do we have input into when or where they do what they need to do,” Marcus said.