County to separate 911 and IT
Kelly to remain head of St. Mary’s technology department despite calls from ‘mob’ for his ouster
The St. Mary’s County Department of Emergency Services and Technology, which oversees local 911 communications, was split back into two separate offices by a unanimous commissioner decision on Tuesday.
Bob Kelly, chief information officer of the combined department, will keep his job title but will head St. Mary’s County government’s information technology office. The St. Mary’s County Emergency Services Committee and other volunteer first responders have criticized Kelly’s management of the department and called for his suspension following continued communications issues.
Steve Walker, the deputy director of the emergency services and technology department, will
be the interim director of the emergency services office. The commissioners now will have to budget for a permanent director for that separate department.
The emergency services committee also alleged there was political patronage and protection over Kelly by two of the county commissioners — Todd Morgan (R) and Tom Jarboe (R) — as they all had worked for the same defense contractor years ago.
Morgan, who was out of town last week with the Southern Maryland Navy Alliance, said Tuesday there are “lots of stories and rumors out there.”
Commissioner John O’Connor (R) also refuted what he called false information spread on
the local radio and on social media.
Morgan said that he was “being thrown under the bus for patronage along with Commissioner Jarboe,” which he denied.
Kelly was hired by St. Mary’s County government in October 2001. Morgan wasn’t elected as commissioner until 2010 and Jarboe was elected in 2014.
“I don’t know where the patronage is,” Morgan said.
Morgan pointed to former commissioner Larry Jarboe who came up with the idea to merge the information technology department with emergency services, which happened in fiscal 2012.
Kelly agreed to head the combined department for a raise of $2,000, Morgan said. “Big whoop, but Kelly took it and he assumed both jobs along the way,” Morgan said.
But with the recent calls to suspend Kelly as director or to even remove him from the job, Morgan said, St. Mary’s County is not Salem, Mass., in colonial times “when we burn someone at the stake.”
The department heads have to have faith in the county com- missioners, who hire them, Morgan said — faith that they won’t be fired when people get mad at the directors. “That’s a hell of a lousy way to run a business,” Morgan said.
“I’m not throwing anybody under the bus despite what the mob may want to hear,” he said.
Morgan made the motion to separate the two departments and put Kelly back in charge of the IT department, which was supported 5-0.
Commissioner Mike Hewitt (R) asked, “Why is it necessary? We haven’t finished the investigation yet. Why don’t we wait until we’re done?”
The departments should be separated again, Morgan said, and the action would “end a lot of the rancor amongst the community.”
Tom Jarboe said the combined department has been discussed for the past three years. “It may seem like it’s a knee-jerk reaction but it certainly isn’t,” he said.
Overloading responsibilities on the director is “stupid,” he said.
Commission President Randy Guy (R) said, “I think we’re on the right track. Things are going to work out.”
Before the motion and vote was taken, O’Connor said there were three issues in emergency communications in St. Mary’s County — the human resources issue, an independent analysis of the emergency services and technology department and what actually happened on Oct. 24.
That was the day there was a communications issue affecting first-responder pagers. That morning there was also a CPR call for an infant in Lexington Park. The 10-day-old boy not did survive even though first responders were on the scene within seven minutes.
“This board has no clue what happened that day,” O’Connor said. He said there is still “horrible radio reception” for first responders inside of buildings.
“I’m tired of hearing the different stories. It’s ridiculous at this point. If you know what the problem is, you fix it,” he said.
O’Connor wanted Kelly out as director. But with the finger pointing and misinformation on the radio and in social media, “it’s just childish at this point,” the commissioner said.
The all-Republican board of county commissioners, Tom Jarboe, top left, John O’Connor, Mike Hewitt, Todd Morgan and Randy Guy, president.