- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2006

A Montgomery County agency rewarded seven employees with a day’s worth of annual leave for taking part in a private charity motorcycle ride that raised $800 — about half of what it cost the county to reward the workers for their participation.

A flier advertising the Oct. 9 ride states it was not sponsored by the county government, even though the money would be donated to the Montgomery County Employee’s Charity Campaign.

However, the flier lists the phone number for the county’s Division of Fleet Management Services as an information contact.

An Oct. 14 memorandum from Sharon D. Subadan, chief of the division since October 2000, thanked the employees who organized and participated in the 2005 Fall Charity Ride and rewarded them with eight hours of annual leave.

A copy of Miss Subadan’s memorandum was obtained by The Washington Times.

The employees named in the memo, including two senior staffers, earn $21.80 to $46.77 an hour — equal to a full-time, annual salary of about $45,000 to $97,000. The paid leave amounts to about $1,900.

Miss Subadan, who participated in the motorcycle ride, did not return a phone message seeking comment.

The division, part of the county’s Department of Public Works and Transportation, oversees a fleet of more than 2,100 automobiles, more than 660 heavy pieces of equipment and more than 240 transit buses.

It employs more than 140 workers and has an annual budget of about $46 million.

County spokeswoman Esther Bowring read a prepared statement in response to questions posed by The Times, saying that the fleet management division employees held the fundraiser “on their own initiative” and called the event “a big success.”

“We make no apologies for trying to help others less fortunate in our community,” she said. “The employees who contributed their own time to help charities should be thanked for their efforts, not criticized.”

However, Section 408 of the Montgomery County Charter says employees paid by the county “shall devote their entire time during their official working hours to the performance of their official duties.”

A provision in Section 406 prohibits county supervisors from asking employees to perform services outside of their public office.

Ms. Bowring said each supervisor “has discretion to make annual leave rewards as they see fit.”

A county Web site dedicated to the charity campaign contains instructions for county employees about how to deduct donations from paychecks, make contributions online and select charities of their choice.

The site, www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/ohr/ResourceLibrary/charity.htm, includes no mention of fundraisers.

The 50-mile ride began with county employees mounting their personal motorcycles at a Harley-Davidson dealership in Rockville and ended at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, Md.

Harley-Davidson of Rockville has a contract with the fleet management division to purchase police motorcycles and parts for those motorcycles.

When asked whether the use of a county contractor’s site could be viewed as a conflict of interest, Ms. Bowring said: “I don’t know anything about that.”

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