Category Archives: Boards and Commissions

Sister City Endorses Kuan Lee for Council?

Facebook Lee Endorsement

Facebook post endorsing Kuan Lee for City Council.

The message on Facebook asked readers to “Please support our member Kuan Lee who is running for the City Council of Rockville. Also, please join/renew the Rockville Sister City Corporation (RSCC) membership to show your support.

What? Rockville Sister City is endorsing a candidate? Not only is RSCC part of the City of Rockville, it’s incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization—endorsing a candidate not only would sever its ties with the City but also jeopardize its status with the IRS.

RSCC President Drew Powell assured me that Rockville Sister City did NOT endorse Kuan Lee, nor would it endorse any candidate for elected office.  It remains confusing, however, because Kuan Lee is a member of the RSCC board, the Facebook post urges support for RSCC, and Drew Powell is a longtime vocal supporter of Bridget Newton, Lee’s campaign colleague. RSCC can’t control what other people say or imply about them, but I suspect they will have a heated discussion to sort this out and clarify their role in the election and this debacle at their next meeting.

In the meantime, a closer look reveals that the Facebook post was made by the Rockville-Yilan City Corporation. Never heard of it? It was incorporated in Maryland in 2017 by…wait for it…Kuan Lee and operates from his home in Rockville.  Yup, Kuan Lee endorsed himself in the disguise of a charitable organization.

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There are so many things wrong with this, but let’s just list a few that are most important to Rockville voters: Continue reading →

“Boards and Commission Task Force” Should be Taken to Task

Jack Kelly and Steven Van Grack, members of Rockville’s Boards and Commissions Task Force.

I’ve just returned from the Boards and Commissions Task Force meeting in Rockville City Hall tonight and was surprised by two things:

  1.  Although they lacked a quorum, they met for two hours to discuss a set of draft recommendations to reform the city’s boards and commissions.
  2. Two members of the task force openly endorsed Bridget Newton in the mayoral election (“I’ll be voting for her in the upcoming election”).

It seems ironic that a task force charged with reviewing and improving the city’s boards and commissions fails to follow some of the city’s and state’s existing policies and practices.  Can you imagine other city boards discussing business without a quorum? If members of the planning commission or environment commission expressed their support for their candidates during one of their business meetings?

They also distributed a “dashboard” with their assessment of the city’s boards and found that significant improvement is needed in:

  • diverse citizen input
  • consistent internal communication
  • a transparent and efficient process for identifying and appointing board and commission members
  • Mayor and Council and city staff providing productive advice and direction to boards and commissions

The dashboard also revealed that NO areas were acceptable; all fell short in achieving the city’s goals. Rockville’s boards and commissions are entirely composed of community volunteers so this poor rating across the board is especially frustrating.  How much worse does it need to become?

Despite these challenges, tonight’s discussion showed that the Task Force is reluctant to make any meaningful changes, especially in the process for identifying and appointing board and commission members. They admit there’s been a long-standing problem in filling vacancies, especially on Planning Commission and Historic District Commission, but are pleased to confine their tinkering to the edges, not at core—the exclusive power of the Mayor to nominate board and commission members. And yet, Mayor Newton is unwilling or unable to do her job—there are currently twenty-six (26!) vacancies (that’s more than five basketball teams). It seems we’ll be facing a civic version of insanity when their recommendations are released this fall: “keep trying the same thing expecting a different result.”

Here’s another kicker: the packet distributed at the meeting is not the same as what is available on the city website.  I’ve attached the packet so you can have a better sense of what was discussed. Their next meeting is Tuesday, July 30 at 6:30 pm in the Black-Eyed Susan Room at Rockville City Hall.

Rockville’s website shows 26 vacancies on its boards and commissions in July 2019 (this is just an excerpt).