County, Culver Moving Past Alleged Closed Session Leak

SALISBURY – Controversy among Wicomico County Council members over one official’s alleged breach of confidentiality has apparently subsided as the county and Councilman Bob Culver released statements this week regarding the matter.

On this week’s agenda, the Wicomico County Council approved closed session minutes from May 21 when council personnel issues were discussed. However, the council did not vote to release the closed minutes as they have in the past.

A few weeks ago, the council approved the release of closed session minutes from March 18. At that time, it became known the majority of the County Council was questioning Culver and his ability to secure confidential information.

Following the unscheduled closed session on May 21, when it became apparent the council was going behind closed doors to further discuss Culver, Wicomico County released a response over allegations.

The response stated, “Wicomico County Councilman Bob Culver recently made public statements about the bid process for the new State’s Attorney’s Office. We, the Wicomico County Executive’s Office, the Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matthew Maciarello and the majority of the Wicomico County Council, feel portions of Culver’s statements do not reflect the truth and need to be corrected.”

The response goes on to state, any suggestion that the site for the new State’s Attorney’s building was selected prior to the Request for Proposal process reaching completion is absolutely false. The County, through its Purchasing Agent, executed a Request for Proposal process that followed all County rules and regulations.

All bids were evaluated and the Executive branch recommended to the County Council that the most responsive and lowest cost bid be awarded the project, and that the bid process was followed properly was confirmed by the County Council on April 2, by a vote of 5-2, when they determined that there was no flaw in the process.

Following a public hearing on the executive’s recommendation, the Council unanimously approved the award of the project to G Plus Properties, LLC.

Subsequent to being informed by the county attorney of the issue, on March 8, Executive and Council staff met to discuss the fact that there had been a release of confidential information from the closed council session on March 5.  At this meeting, no decision as to what action would be taken in response to Culver’s breach of confidentiality was reached.

The council then decided to have a closed session on March 18 to discuss Culver’s actions and reprimand Culver privately.

“The County Executive, the State’s Attorney and the majority of the County Council feel strongly that public confidence in a clear and transparent bidding process is absolutely essential, and reject outright and repudiate Culver’s allegations that there was anything illegal or unethical about the bid process which led to the decision to award the bid for the new offices of the State’s Attorney,” the county’s statement ead.

“We have many strong personalities within the Executive’s office and the Council, which lead to strong opinions,” Culver submitted following the county’s response. “Although we may not agree with each other on certain issues, we all have the best intentions for Wicomico County. I don’t think that either party will be changing their stance in this case. It is over for now and we need to move forward and finish our budget and work on the many other problems that face our county.”