Following controversy and ongoing investigations, the entire Montgomery County Planning Board resigned on Wednesday after a vote of no confidence by the Montgomery County Council.
Councilmembers said in a statement they have accepted the resignations of Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson, Vice Chair Partap Verma and Commissioners Gerald Cichy, Tina Patterson and Carol Rubin. “The resignations are effective immediately,” the statement said.
On Oct. 4, the Council issued reprimands for Anderson, Verma, and Rubin for inappropriate conduct in the workplace. The reprimand resulted in Anderson losing four weeks of his salary and Vice Chair Verma and Commissioner Rubin each losing one day of their respective salaries.
Following the announcement, Verma wrote to MyMCM, noting, “It’s been an honor and pleasure to serve this amazing county. I know this county council and the new one will make this a smooth transition and pass Thrive 2050. We have an incredible commission and know they will continue to push forward on all their important initiatives.”
Rubin submitted a letter Wednesday to Council President Gabe Albornoz and the rest of council, which she also released to MyMCM, noting she applied to serve on the board “after dedicating the majority of my career to public service in Montgomery County.” She wrote that she was “honored and humbled by the public trust that the Council placed in my hands.”
She said the recent issues that led to the call for the board’s resignation “have taken too much time and attention from the Council, distracting you from your focus on the critical business of the County.”
The county’s vote of no confidence in the planning board “make it clear…you were looking for a drastic change,” her letter stated.
Rubin also said, “I have acted responsibly and with integrity during my tenure at the Board, always trying to act in the best interests of the Commission, its dedicated staff, Montgomery County and its residents.”
However, she wrote in her letter, “The sad reality though, is that the Planning Board was faced with troubling complaints and allegations which it could not ignore.”
In a statement, Albornoz noted, “The Montgomery County Council is united in taking the steps necessary to ensure that the Montgomery County Planning Board can serve its critical functions and oversee the Planning and Parks Departments’ important work for our community.”
He further stated, “The Council has lost confidence in the Montgomery County Planning Board and accepted these resignations to reset operations. We are acting with deliberate speed to appoint new commissioners to move Montgomery County forward. We thank the commissioners for their service to our County.”
The Council is scheduled to select new temporary acting Planning Board commissioners on Oct. 25 and is seeking individuals with expertise in land use, planning, economic development, transportation, and environmental and park issues. Interested Montgomery County residents should apply to the Council by Oct. 18 at 5 p.m.
Gwen Wright, planning director, was removed from her position earlier in the week. Deputy Planning Director Tanya Stern was named Acting Montgomery Planning Director.
MyMCM spoke with Acting Planning Board Director Tanya Stern Tuesday night before the mass resignations were announced.
The planning Board meetings scheduled for Oct. 13 and 20 are canceled.
“M-NCPPC respects the Montgomery County Council’s authority over the appointed Planning Board members and will coordinate closely with the Council through this transition period,” Asuntha Chiang-Smith, M-NCPPC Executive Director, wrote in a news release. “We remain focused on providing the support and leadership necessary for the professional staff at the Montgomery County Planning Department and Parks Department to continue their outstanding service.”
Added Prince George’s County Planning Board Chair and M-NCPPC Chair Peter Shapiro, “Since our agency was founded in 1927, M-NCPPC has worked together as One Commission dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents in both Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.” He noted, “And we will continue to do so.”
WJLA first reported on Sept. 16 the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) received an anonymous email on Aug. 5. The email alleged Anderson had been drinking alcohol in his office with members of the government office, WJLA said.
On Oct. 7, the Planning Board announced they had voted to remove Wright as Planning Director. One day before the termination, Wright was quoted in a WJLA news story speaking up for Anderson in regard to another email alleging he engaged in inappropriate language and behavior in the workplace.
Most recently, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the investigation into Anderson had expanded to include actions of Verma and the abrupt firing of Wright.
The Post said they had obtained an email complaint sent to the Council on Monday accusing Verma of violating ethics laws over the course of two investigations looking into Anderson’s conduct. The email also questioned the termination of Wright, according to The Post.
My statement on the resignations of the Montgomery County Planning Board members pic.twitter.com/hRSBsJxZHX
— Councilmember Evan Glass (@CMEvanGlass) October 12, 2022