Greenberger To Be Transferred from PIO Position Because of Candidacy

Neil Greenberger

Neil Greenberger, the Montgomery County Council public information officer who says he is running to be a member of the Montgomery County Council, said Friday he will be transferring out of his office.

Instead of handling the public relations duties for the county council, he’ll cross East Jefferson Street to join County Executive Ike Leggett’s PR staff in the Executive Office Building.

Greenberger said he requested a transfer. The reason?

“It’s much more personal than it is business,” Greenberger said. “… It would mean that a couple of my best friends would be in the middle of something that they don’t need to be in the middle of.”

He said that he and his lawyer believe that if he had been challenged legally, he could continue in his current position.

“The truth is the only thing I care about is that my friends and coworkers are not put in a position that a decision of mine makes their life harder or more difficult,” Greenberger said.

The transfer was approved by Leggett’s chief administrative officer, Timothy Firestine. The transfer takes effect July 17.

Greenberger’s current boss, council administrator Steve Farber, distributed this memo to staff Friday morning:

As the Council’s Legislative Information Officer, Neil Greenberger plays a central role in conveying the views of individual Councilmembers and the Council as a whole to the public.  Last week Neil confirmed his intent to seek election to the next Council.  Both State and County law provide that a County employee may participate in political campaigns, including running for elective office, with the restriction that the employee may not use County time, facilities, or equipment in connection with the campaign.

Neil told me that he wants to avoid any conflicts that could arise between his duties as Legislative Information Officer and his campaign activities.  To this end, he requested a voluntary transfer to an appropriate position elsewhere in County Government.  The County Personnel Regulations authorize the Chief Administrative Officer to transfer an employee “to promote efficient operations in the County.”  The regulations also cite “a voluntary request from an employee to be transferred” as an example of “valid reasons for a department director to make a transfer.”  Accordingly, I recommended to CAO Tim Firestine that Neil be transferred to an appropriate position in the Executive Branch where he can continue to contribute to the work of County Government.  Mr. Firestine approved my recommendation and determined that Neil will be transferred to the Office of Public Information, effective July 17, 2017.

Sonya Healy, who is also a key member of our communications team, will serve as Acting Legislative Information Officer as we review our staffing requirements.  I know that you join me in recognizing Neil’s many contributions to the Council Office and wishing him well in his new position in the Executive Branch.

Steve Farber, Council Administrator

Greenberger has said he’ll seek one of the four at-large positions on the County Council. Three at-large council members cannot seek re-election because of term limits. Conceivably, Greenberger would be running against the fourth, Hans Riemer. Riemer’s former chief of staff, Adam Pagnucco, wrote in The Seventh State blog that Greenberger’s candidacy put the council and the public in a troublesome position.

Greenberger said Riemer had no role in his decision.

“I can 100 percent say the concerns of the council members were not a factor in my decision,” Greenberger said. “It was 100 percent what I owe some friends. … If I have to make a small sacrifice on a temporary basis that’s what I’m going to do.”

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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug

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