Culver rebuts council letter asking him to fill top posts

culver-letter

County Executive Bob Culver last week had the advantage of reading some mail meant for him — even before it was sent.

And, he was able to publicly answer that letter before it arrived.

The Wicomico County Council drafted a letter calling upon Culver to hire — as soon as possible — replacements for the executive’s two top deputies, Wayne Strausburg and Weston Young.

Strausburg announced last month that he would retire at the end of May; Young departed April 3 for a similar post in Worcester County’s government.

The letter, included in the council’s briefing book as part of the April 7 work session agenda, said Culver should lift the county government hiring freeze he announced last month and fill the two key positions.

“The County Council, with all due respect, would like to request that you lift the hiring freeze for these two positions,” the draft letter stated. “These are two senior level positions that oversee the day-to-day operations of the county and it is vital to have good leadership in place. The country is currently in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and Wicomico County, now more than ever, needs individuals in these upper management positions that our citizens and county employees can turn to for guidance and leadership during these difficult times.”

The draft continued: “It is our understanding that Mr. Wayne Strausburg has offered to postpone his retirement due to the current coronavirus health concerns and we encourage you to accept his offer. We are deeply concerned about the vacant leadership positions in our county and we would like to help.”

Before the council voted on whether to send the letter, Culver sent a reply to Council President Larry Dodd, which Dodd read aloud into the meeting record.

“I am the chief operational in charge of the day-to-day operation of this county,” Culver reminded his legislative counterparts, adding later that he was now engaged “in the interview process.”

Culver said he has discussed with Strausburg the possibility that the top deputy would remain at work through the county budget approval process. He also suggested there is plenty of time to interview and hire.

Under the County Charter, Culver has the ability to appoint temporary replacements to serve in the posts for up to 90 days.

The council ultimately voted not to officially send the letter. In sending the letter, observed Councilman Ernie Davis, “you’re just creating more havoc.”

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