Rehrmann Now Must Be An Executive, Not A Politician

THE OBSERVER

February 10, 1991|By Mark Guidera

County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann should be thankful the job she won in November was not that of the top executive in a corporation.

If it were, she may have been handed a box this week to put her office desk knick-knacks in and shown the door by the board of directors.

Her gaffe in offering the job of economic development director toa friend whose background and skills for fulfilling the job were suspect at best and whose resume was padded with misleading information would not have been taken lightly in many of the boardrooms of America.

Especially when Rehrmann sold herself for the executive's job, in part, on the promise to make economic development a priority of her tenure.

You'd think she'd be highly selective about whom she chose to replace former economic development director William Sivertsen.The candidate you'd expect to be offered the job by Rehrmann would be top drawer, right?

It's clear that Rehrmann did little, if any, checking on Patricia Perluke's resume before she offered her the $51,000 job.

The resume, at best, can be considered chock full of embellishment. Just a few phone calls would have unveiled some of the inconsistencies.

Consider just a few of the things we found on Perluke's four-page resume and her one-page "career summary" attached to the resume:

* In the career summary, she wrote that she "spent two years in a senior management role in the office of the Secretary at the Maryland Department of Economic & Employment Development."

Senior management role equals managing managers and making significant andsometimes difficult budget and policy decisions, right?

Not for Perluke.

Fact: Perluke was hired by DEED as a consultant on a contractual basis for about eight months.

This seems a far cry from a senior management role. One phone call by Rehrmann (or someone she could have assigned to resume verification) to the personnel office at DEED would have stripped that embellishment to its skin.

* On her resume, Perluke wrote she "established" a business consulting group inBaltimore and listed working as a partner there for two years.

Fact: she worked as an unpaid "subcontractor" there for about four months, according to the company's real founder, Patrick Rossello.

There's more, but you get the gist.

Rehrmann has defended her action by stating she thought the experience listed on Perluke's resume was evidence she would handle this high-profile job well. When she looks at a resume, said Rehrmann, "I don't check the dates."

Front-line managers out there with hiring duties would choke on that statement.

It would have served Rehrmann and the public well if she'd just said, "Gee, I was had. I messed up."

I don't know what it is with elected people, but when they flub there's always a grand excuse.

Even more galling last week was this: Councilwoman Joanne Parrott, R-District B, publicly rebuked some council members and the press for what she called a "trend" of singling out female job candidates for close scrutiny.

Parrott didn't come right out and say it in her rebuke, but she was clearly ticked Perluke had been sandbagged. Her statement included an accusation of sex discrimination.

When pressed by this newspaper to name other examples of female job candidates being singled out for scrutiny -- to back up the discrimination charge -- Parrott balked. Why? It's simple: There is no trend.

Parrott owes the council, the press and the public either hard facts of a "trend" oran apology for the outrageous statement.

Fact is, resume checks were done on all of the county executive's nominees for department heads. Council President Jeffery Wilson and the press did what Rehrmann should have done in the first place.

If Parrott should be rebukinganyone, it's the new county executive for this incident which, unfortunately for Rehrmann, smacks of cronyism.

Rehrmann may be green when it comes to management skills, but thankfully she does know politics. So when we broke the story last week about at least one embellishment on Perluke's resume, Rehrmann tactfully yanked her nomination.

The exec knew it would have been ugly had Perluke had to face the council Tuesday night during confirmation hearings.

One thing thisincident brings to light for county residents and the council is Rehrmann's background: she has no long-term administrative experience.

She may be politically adept, have an acumen for numbers, and be a bullet at fashioning legislation from her sound work as a state delegate, but the fact remains she is now doing some on-the-job-training running the equivalent of a large service corporation.

Every new manager takes a few rough spills. The mistakes can help a manager grow more wise. Let's hope the lessons Rehrmann learns from this incident are that cronyism ill serves government and, egads, look for the reality behind the puff.

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