Thursday, May 14, 2009

WSSC Wild Child Takes on the Boy King

OK, it’s not King Kong vs. Godzilla. Or Darth Vader vs. Doctor Doom. Or even Moe vs. Larry vs. Curly. But in a throwdown that just had to happen, two of MPW’s favorite targets are going at it: Washington Suburban Sanitary Commissioner Juanita “Wild Child” Miller and Washington Post editorial intern Steven “Boy King” Stein. Let’s get ready to RUUUMMBLE!!

The Boy King fired the first shot with a tartly-worded Sunday editorial blasting WSSC. The Post’s Katherine Shaver has been doing some excellent reporting on the woes of the Maryland suburbs’ most dysfunctional agency and Stein followed by criticizing its “corrosive politics.” Stein’s critique of WSSC echoes ours – so closely, in fact, that we wonder if he used our blog post for his research. After all, everyone knows how attentive the Boy King is to MPW.

Well, leave it to the Wild Child to come blasting back! We know that Juanita Miller is a talented email writer and she did not disappoint. Here’s what she sent out to all of WSSC on Monday night. Can you imagine what she would have written if she knew Stein was an intern?

From: Miller, Juanita []
Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 6:17 PM
To: Hawes, Jennifer; #Commissioners; #Change Leadership Team; #Commission Employees
Subject: RE: Clips: 5/11/09

It is quite apparent that the Washington Post's editor is on a "witch" hunt in its continued attempts to denigrate Prince George's County and its Commissioners. The article "Water Fight" (05/10/2009, editorial) contains little substance with lots of fabricated and manipulated the verbiage contrary to the two "balanced " articles on WSSC written last week by reporter Katherine Shaver.

The truth is in the facts and detail which the editor has clearly and apparently purposefully omitted! The editor demeans the "process" (labeled "dubious" in the editorial) which six commissioners developed, approved and initiated. The editor omitted that Rudy Chow was the highest ranking candidate from a national search. Equally as important, he is a 30-year Montgomery County resident and has worked at WSSC for more than 25 years. Mr. Chow was selected by the former GM to run the largest department in the agency-- Customer Care, and he has demonstrated leadership and management skills based on his performance for the GM to make that selection. Mr. Chow has earned the right to be WSSC’s GM. He is hardly a pawn of Prince George’s County since his lifelong ties have been and are to Montgomery County. The characterization of Mr. Chow made by the Post editor undermines Mr. Chow and the integrity of the process.

Montgomery County commissioners have blatantly "refused" to adhere to an established process (approved and sanctioned by them) only after Mr. Chow was identified as the winner of that process--that is the FACT!! They have clearly shown on two other occasions preference for "less qualified" persons to lead the agency, i.e., they supported an employee who had only two months working at the agency, with no engineering experience, rather than the more senior, experienced and qualified employee to serve as the interim GM. They supported a candidate (recommended by the two County Executives) with a checkered past over its own "home grown" employee. Their conduct has made a mockery of "succession" planning and been an insult to the committed employees who seek to grow with this agency.

Yet it is apparent that the Washington Post editors have little concern for truth when expediency and continued desire to denigrate and demean all that is Prince George’s County, simply because they can do so in anonymity. The editors who wrote this editorial have little to no knowledge of WSSC's MBE program and process and have continued to rehash the same misinformation as if or because it is the singular most important crutch the Post has to lean on when it seeks to cast aspersions on the minority commissioners and the MBE program. The editor dug deep once again to a 1997 reference in an attempt to "impugn" this Commissioner’s leadership in carrying out fiduciary responsibilities. The FACT is the staff member who was the project manager at that time for the sludge contracts and was responsible for investigating firms prior to award of the sludge contract, had not done due diligence and was reprimanded for that shortsightedness at the public hearing. It should also be noted that the State Ethics Board cleared and exonerated Commissioner Miller from the unfounded allegations made 12 years ago. This case is a matter of State record and can be easily checked by Post researchers; yet the Post editors have continuously and purposely mischaracterized that matter.

Another fact relative to Commissioners’ expenses is the three year cumulative amount of $10,000+ paid by the GM for this Commissioner to attend the national AWWA conferences. It is to be noted that each year the cost for attending this conference comes out of the GM's budget for each Commissioner from both counties who chooses to attend the conference. It also should be noted that Commissioner Counihan's expenses of $9000-plus for 14 months far exceeded that of Commissioner Agarwal's expenses of $5000-plus for the five years he has served. I surmise that it wasn't newsworthy since it didn't involve a Prince George's Commissioner exceeding expenses.

I am "adamant" about adhering to established policies and procedures and have documented many accounts of irregularities that the Post is apparently not interested in publishing. I am also adamant about supporting a process that identifies a person who happens to be the most qualified for GM and who happens to be Asian. The Post should be questioning Montgomery County representatives who have manipulated and engaged in underhanded tactics to circumvent a process that identified one of its own longtime residents as the winner of the GM process.

It's apparent that news must be slow at the Post for the editor to continue to misrepresent certain facts relative to Prince George's Commissioners and their position on issues.

The only "pet" in this matter is the "peeve" as well as the "unspeakable and capricious" journalism exercised by the Washington Post editor who obviously has a penchant for attempting to denigrate Prince George's County's Commissioners, especially this one. This explains why the Washington Post readership appears to be suffering, especially in Prince George’s County. It’s apparent the Post editors are determined to print disparaging articles about Prince George’s County.

As has been stated previously in the public forum and is reiterated in this missive, the Washington Post does not guide the actions or operations of this agency nor the functions of its Board.

It appears that the Post is on a mission to fabricate and manipulate information in an effort to cover up the corrupt activities occurring at this agency and provide a distraction of the facts. It's ironic that these articles began to appear shortly after an audit/investigation of certain activities at the Commission was requested by Commissioner Miller.

The Post did not find it "newsworthy" to further research/investigate Commissioner Miller's assertion to its reporter about the corruption at the agency, i.e. an employee being arrested for stealing $10,000 plus of ratepayers money and other risks that leave the agency exposed which need to be mitigated . And did I mention that Commissioners allocated funds to hire an Ethics Officer, conducted interviews and then the process got halted (and not by the Prince Georges' Commissioners)? Also the agency spent well over $100K for the original GM search only to have the Montgomery County Commissioners balk at the results and continue an exclusive search outside of Commission authority and then had the agency billed for the Montgomery County process. This means that the ratepayers paid for a duplicate yet exclusive process conducted by Montgomery County.

Let the truth be told, the Post editors’ determination to impugn the integrity and character of Commissioner Miller and Prince George’s County have blinded them to the FACTS.

Commissioner Juanita Miller