Mike Spurrier

Mike Spurrier, director of the Frederick Community Action Agency, has been asked by Mayor Michael O’Connor to either resign or retire.

Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor has asked Mike Spurrier, executive director of the Frederick Community Action Agency, to either resign or retire, according to an email Spurrier sent to supporters on Monday.

According to the email obtained Tuesday by The Frederick News-Post, Spurrier was asked to meet with O’Connor, City Attorney Saundra Nickols and Director of Human Resources Karen Paulson on Oct. 9. Spurrier said that at the meeting, he was given a two-page termination letter indicating that his last day on the job would be Thursday, Oct. 17.

“I was given the option to resign/retire ... but I have decided to let the issue of termination go to a vote of the Board of Aldermen,” the email reads. “We’ll see how things turn out on Wednesday afternoon around 4 p.m.”

Since 1968, the Frederick Community Action Agency, a department of the city, has offered shelter, medical care, housing and assistance to those who have a low income or are homeless in Frederick. Spurrier has held the FCAA executive director position for nearly 32 years.

Beyond confirming that he wrote the email, Spurrier declined to comment for this story. When reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, O’Connor said it would be inappropriate for him to discuss personnel matters publicly.

Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak, meanwhile, noted that while she has not been officially informed about the situation, she couldn’t comment on personnel issues either. Alderman Ben MacShane echoed Kuzemchak’s sentiment, adding that he hopes if a move is made regarding Spurrier’s position, he hopes the city acts intentionally and cautiously with whatever it does moving forward.

Alan Feinberg, who founded the nonprofit East Frederick Rising, said late Tuesday that while he’s not particularly a fan of Spurrier’s work, he also doesn’t support the city’s handling of the situation.

“After 31 years on the staff, even if [Spurrier is] dead wrong, I think the mayor’s wrong in cutting him off and ruining his reputation,” Feinberg said. “I think we don’t have to be brutal. There’s no particular purpose into treating people terribly bad. In this situation, I think a transition would make some sense. They should just let him leave gracefully.”

While a closed session is scheduled after Wednesday’s mayor and Board of Aldermen workshop at City Hall, multiple aldermen said Tuesday that they aren’t sure why the meeting was called, even if Spurrier thinks they will discuss his future with the FCAA. Meanwhile, Spurrier’s email called for support from the public, asking those interested to speak up in the public comment portion of the workshop.

“I would like to finish some important work and develop a comprehensive transition plan before I consider retirement,” Spurrier’s email read. “Some of the important work that I’d like to finish includes moving the FCAA soup kitchen to the Frederick Rescue Mission; helping the Salvation Army and the rescue mission open a permanent day shelter at the rescue mission; and developing a system for people experiencing homelessness to receive their mail at the post office.”

The move comes after dozens of residents spoke out in recent weeks at meetings around Frederick. In one instance, at a meeting organized by the Downtown Safety and Services Initiative two weeks ago, many Frederick residents shared their stories of walking near the current headquarters of the FCAA at 100 S. Market St.

With Spurrier on hand, the meeting became a Q&A session of sorts between the FCAA director and those concerned with the behavior of people who frequent the area around the organization’s headquarters. Those comments and conversations did not go unnoticed, according to Spurrier’s email.

“It appears that there are a few things happening,” it read. “1) Residents in the south end are concerned (perhaps fed up) with quality of life crimes such as drinking in public, open drug use, public urination, loitering, littering and even trespassing; and 2) many people want to relocate the FCAA out of downtown Frederick.

“I am not opposed to relocating the FCAA and trying to consolidate all our programs into one building,” it continued, “but these efforts must be led by the Community Action Board of Directors and Friends For Neighborhood Progress along with input from residents, property owners, staff members, clients/consumers of services, elected officials and partner agencies.”

The workshop is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Wednesday, and the closed session will be called immediately after it.

Follow Colin McGuire on Twitter:

@colinpadraic.

(58) comments

Comment deleted.
awteam2000

You do know liberalism have been extremely successful in creating and advancing social safety nets like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, regulations to prevent exploitation of consumers, mothers against drunken drivers, employee exploitation, taking care of the most vulnerable, preservationists of lands, climate change regulations, the list goes on ... are you wanting?

threecents

This is management issue - not a Republican vs. Democrat issue. It seems that some need to box things up into one or the other in order to deal with them.

joelp77440

Love the guy, have worked with him before with other agencies who served the same folks. However, I do agree that he may have over stayed his welcome. One time I was in a meeting with him and other community leaders and I commented to my co-worker that he is like a "tick" that has dug in and will never leave. She laughed and said I was being silly. That was 22 years ago.

KellyAlzan

And there we have it

Comment deleted.
FrederickFan

Conservatives continue to do a stellar job with ignorant, clueless, and offensive sterotypes.

grisgris

There clearly needs to be some changes at the FCAA to protect the surrounding community. The drug use, drug dealing, fighting (including a stabbing), public urination and defecation has gotten much worse in the past 2 years or so. I appreciate the mayor taking the difficult but necessary steps toward protecting the community. Human services are badly needed in Frederick but a restructuring is needed as well to keep up with a city that has undergone a lot of change in the past 15-20 years.

Comment deleted.
gabrielshorn2013

And exactly where are those homeless supposed to go Mr T? Send them "somewhere else" and make it "someone else's" problem. Remember, you are "somewhere else" to "someone else". The homeless used to have hidden camps around the city and county, but no, we couldn't have that, so they were rousted. Agreed, there are addiction and mental health issues among the homeless population, but isn't it better to at least offer treatment and support to those that want it near to where they are?

KellyAlzan

I so can’t wait until ba’lane is Mayor

DickD

Are you asking for a nightmare, Kelly?

KellyAlzan

Yes! Only because the FNP sells subscriptions left and right because of him

KellyAlzan

Sounds to me like they need more police. Why not fire the police chief as well?

sevenstones1000

Frederick City certainly needs police training consistent with best practices in dealing with homelessness. This is not Mayberry any more, as disappointing as that is to some.

CityBoy

The downtown crime, drug abuse and vagrancy issues are increasing on his watch. Don't need statistics to tell me that its not. Just spend a couple hours at the hot spots with your eyes open. 30+ years is a long time on the job. Nothing wrong with moving on. Need some fresh ideas.

riccicc

I see O'Connor is playing his favorite game of, "me boss, you peon."

Dwasserba

? Examples?

katiefmd

Just watch any city board meeting and you will see a numbers of examples.

nbouqu1

So, from what I'm gathering the Mayor, as usual, hasn't a goddamn clue how to do his job so is instead trying to show he's doing SOMETHING by firing the head of the agency that is charged with providing minimal assistance to the poor. Even though that's not actually going to solve any problems. Oh and as far as "problems" go it's not anything has changed about the homeless in Frederick, it's the gentrification of Downtown. Does that about sum it up?

Valentine

I've lived on All Saints St for over 20 years now. When I moved in, it was a bad neighborhood. Then it got gentrified, and all these moneyed white people started moving in. But then, in the last couple of years, something else has changed.



People started od'ing on the street in front of my building on a regular basis. Every day, I would have to make my way through large groups of a dozen or more people standing around on the sidewalk in front of the building, blocking the path, openly drinking, doing and selling drugs. I've had people urinate and defecate on my front porch many, many times now. It was never like this, not until the past couple of years. Something has definitely changed recently, and something needs to be done. This isn't just NIMBY-ism. This is a new problem.



However, all that said, I don't blame Mike Spurrier for any of it.



So why is this happening now?



1) First of all, the drugs changed. We have an opioid epidemic in this country. Then Spice became a thing. Both are horrendous drugs that are cheap, easy to get, and absolutely devastating to the user.



2) Manny's opened up on S Market a few years back, and started selling single 32oz cans of beer; thereby forcing the bodega on Market and All Saints to do the same in order to stay in business. These two businesses contribute to the drinking and drug use in these neighborhoods, by offering cheap access to alcohol. There is simply no reason any business in DTF needs to be selling single cans of beer. All it does is encourage people to drink on the street.



3) These people used to just congregate in front of the CAA. But then people in the neighborhood complained about the large group of "undesirables" hanging out in front of the CAA all the time, so Mike put up "No Loitering" signs, and told them they couldn't hang out in front of the building anymore. As a result, all those people wandered off into our neighborhoods, instead. I don't see that as being on Mike. He was just responding to community concerns. These people have to go somewhere, and if they can't stay at the CAA, then where else are they supposed to go?



Forcing Mike Spurrier out won't do anything to fix this problem. We need beat cops regularly patrolling these neighborhoods. We need to ban the sale of single cans of beer downtown. And, most importantly, we need to give these people someplace else they can go, so that they don't feel the need to loiter in our neighborhoods in the first place.

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup]

threecents

There is too much alcohol downtown. Frederick has had a boom in alcohol businesses. Is Blane actually right - about us needing more police downtown?

dirtorsoil

This is the single most common sense and well observed comment on this thread. Looking at the causes of the problem rather then the political posturing surrounding this forced retirement. I have no opinion on that, other then it takes moving a mountain remove a govt employee so whatever reason it is, it is not just because. The mayor may not be sharing the reasons due to legal liability issues related to Spurrier's reputation. However, the CAC is the single most visible entity that provides services to the homeless population. We cannot shuttle these people (they are people) around like piles of dirt. There has to be a place that they can go where they are provided with basic services. Mental illness and substance abuse are the chief causes and there are treatment approaches to both of these issues. How effective they are is another matter, but treating the root cause is critical. Without access they are never given a chance to improve their circumstance and will end up sick or dead, like the 2-3 unfortunately people that were found floating dead in the creek. You cannot act like DTF is the "oldtown Alexandria" of Western MD. The reality is it is a mix of income demographics and we must have a flexible solutions based approach to that. Perhaps new blood is whats needed. Thank you for your comment Valentine! It shows that there are still some people that think critically that read these articles. Not the same 4 curmudgeons screaming at each other in the comments section trying to turn everything into a political row. This makes the point that some things will not change until generations turn over.

katiefmd

[thumbup]

Comment deleted.
sevenstones1000

And how would moving it change the nature of the people it serves? NIMBY.

des21

What does Spurrier think this is? LA, SF, Houston, DC, Baltimore or Mumbai? We've had a Republican mayor recently, we're not used to this level of lewd and lascivious (and downright gross) behavior in public.

dirtorsoil

I agree with Valentine. The combo of the drug epidemic and parasitic businesses is toxic. I lived in Baltimore during the late 90's- early aughts. At the time crack and heroin were the drugs of choice. They truly turn people into animals. One of my neighbors, when sober would watch our cars to make sure they did not get broken into. When high he pooped on our front steps, two times, with no memory of it. Multiply that times however many people, and the problem grows exponentially. I agree that the level of slum like behavior (your India reference was spot on) is out of control and jarring in an otherwise nice neighborhood.

rcfoster

So it really comes down to the fact that Spurrier isn't hiding the undesirables of Frederick City. The work is fine but we don't like looking at them. Really nice..

sevenstones1000

I think you are correct, foster.



I wonder if it occurs to any if the whiners that Mike Spurriers mandate was to help the poor and homeless, not make them disappear. “I want to live in Downtown Frederick and I want it to look like Disney World, all cute and pretty.”

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup]

Comment deleted.
KellyAlzan

What exactly does this have to do with the director?

Cowell

Spurrier is a scapegoat for a failed City Hall to keep the streets clean! Relocate the services in prime DTF.

Rakhu

Spurrier been in that position since 1968, so now for some reason there's an issue with his job performance?



It's seems like a personal attack to me from the Mayor.

shiftless88

Perhaps you meant 1986?

mr_twist27

Maybe he should have been fired years ago, but no one would do it? Maybe he did something unprofessional or unethical? The truth is that they gave him the option to retire and go out amicably, but he is the one blasting this to the news and being unprofessional. The mayor has the right to hire or fire any department directors because they work at his pleasure.

niceund

They work at our pleasure. So does the mayor. Spurrier should have kept us out of the headlines but the mayor and chief of police need to take responsibility as well.

mr_twist27

I'm not disputing that, the mayor will have to face a re election and answer to the citizens. The police in my opinion have actually done a pretty good job, but they can only act on criminal matters, a lot of what happens in that area is definitely quality of life/nuisance issues that are often not criminal in nature so they cant take any action.

mr_twist27

Plus the police are only a bandaid, you cant arrest your way out of a vagrant problem. They need to address the core issue that draws them to that area.

Terrilwallace

Maybe the new mayor finally read all the exit interviews from HR that had to filled out after leaving the FCAA. That would be enough for termination alone.

gardenwhimsey

They want to relocate the soup kitchen so the people who go there will not offend the residents in the immediate area but they want to relocate it to the Rescue Mission on South Street? Get the "unwashed" off of Market Street and add them to the sizable number of people who already go to the Mission?

jerseygrl42

The Mayor is wrong, it is NEVER inappropriate to discuss in public , issues that involve public funds ...too many closed door issues going on ...

mr_twist27

The closed door meeting is to discuss a personnel matter. That has never been something that has been discussed in public and never should be. No government entity talk in a public meeting about firing someone, that is completely unprofessional.

petersamuel

I don't have an opinion for or against Spurrier. But firing a senior City official, and denying him the opportunity to retire, is so unusual here in Frederick I think the Mayor will have to explain his reasons. 'What does he have to hide?' will be on everyone's mind, if he doesn't explain himself. A lot will also turn on who the Mayor puts in to replace Spurrier. Also, I'm surprised the Mayor is taking it to the Board of Alders. Isn't staff selection fully within the Mayor's discretion? I wonder if the Mayor is missing the advice of Patti Mullins, his director of communications. She very quietly disappeared a few weeks ago.

dirtorsoil

Legal liability, I bet you that's the reason. You can sue for libel and slander.

sevenstones1000

Why didn’t this story cover what , exactly, Spurrier has done that is wrong?



The man is tasked with providing services to poor and homeless people. He isn’t tasked with making sure they behave, that’s the police.

KellyAlzan

right, EXACTLY as I was thinking...

CaringCommunity

Spurrier's approach has been to give a hand out -- not a hand up. By just giving out soup, but robbing them of purpose, hope and human dignity does not work and can not be solved just by police enforcement.




PSUFAN

Something needs to be done with all the issues downtown. It’s out of control. I support the mayor on this one.

katiefmd

Just so I’m understanding this correctly, Mike attended the community meeting that neither the mayor or chief of police showed up too? He answered questions regarding crime concerns? Which neither the mayor or the chief has done.. and now the city decides to “go in a new direction” sounds like political bs and someone’s looking for a scapegoat.

Comment deleted.
Sarabelle

I’m also curious to learn the “why”

rnrbug

I sure hope there are actual legit grounds and not just hey he is nearing retirement lets boot him before he reaps any earned benefits

shiftless88

He has been given the option to retire

mr_twist27

He is past his retirement.

pretzel

How about O'Connor quit, now that would be great

DPWORKS

Thank you Mayor. Please make certain the new leadership doesn’t belittle the concerns of residents and businesses about safety. The neighborhood has gotten increasingly unsafe as the programs and budgets have increased. It’s time for new leadership.

BunnyLou

No, it is time for new leadership in the mayors office. This is on him and the police for keeping downtown clean and safe.

hbmindy

Thank you Mayor! It's time for Spurrier to retire.

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