All five members of the county’s Planning Board — Chair Casey Anderson, Vice Chair Partap Verma, and Commissioners Gerald Cichy, Tina Patterson, and Carol Rubin — resigned yesterday afternoon, effective immediately, after several weeks of controversy and allegations against members.
“The council has lost confidence in the Montgomery County Planning Board and accepted these resignations to reset operations,” Council President Gabe Albornoz (D–At Large) said in a press release. “We are acting with deliberate speed to appoint new commissioners to move Montgomery County forward. We thank the commissioners for their service to our county.”
In a statement of his own, Vice President Evan Glass (D–At Large) reiterated the council’s loss of confidence and promised to work quickly with other councilmembers to fill the vacant positions.
Tanya Stern was named acting director and the council will select new temporary acting Planning Board commissioners on Oct. 25, according to the release.
Problems began to arise when the Maryland-National Capital Park And Planning Commission’s Office of the Inspector General confirmed that Anderson kept alcohol in the office following an anonymous tip via email, according to reports.
Anderson admitted the allegations, including that he drank with colleagues after hours in violation of commission policies. The council fined him one month’s pay, and also fined Verma and Rubin one day’s pay for participating in the drinking.
Last week, the Planning Board voted 4–0, with Anderson not present, to fire longtime Planning Director Gwen Wright and named Stern acting director.
Wright had supported Anderson following accusations from Verma that he fostered a toxic and misogynist workplace.
Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that Montgomery Parks Department Deputy Director Miti Figueredo, in a letter to the council accused Verma of misconduct over the course of the investigations into Anderson, as well as violating the Hatch Act prohibiting elected officials from assisting candidates for office with fundraising efforts. Figueredo formerly served at Anderson’s senior adviser.
M-NCPPC is investigating the recent allegations, officials told the Post.
“This cannot be the end of the conversation on the dysfunction and structural issues at Planning,” said County Executive Marc Elrich in a statement. “The Planning Board faces a deficit of trust, and continued questions about management, transparency, and process must be addressed. I stand ready to work with the council to ensure transparency in choosing the interim members of the board and ensure that the investigations continue.”
From left, Verma, Patterson, Anderson, Cichy, Rubin. Planning Board photo