Fired manager defends actions His dealings with developer were above board, ex-Taneytown official says

August 26, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Yesterday's article in the Carroll County edition about former Taneytown City Manager Joseph A. Mangini should have said he was attempting to rent a house in Pennsylvania.

The Baltimore Sun regrets the errors.

Joseph A. Mangini Jr. says that when he was fired as Taneytown city manager two weeks ago, the mayor and City Council told him there was an appearance of impropriety in his dealings with a local developer.

Mr. Mangini denies that he handled any city business inappropriately. He says the mayor and council just wanted an excuse to eliminate a driving force in the city's government.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"They didn't want someone who was a strong leader," Mr. Mangini said yesterday. "I don't have a problem with being terminated. I am not disputing their right to fire me.

"But when they say I did not do my job, that my work was unacceptable, that's when I take offense," he said.

Mr. Mangini was fired Aug. 9 during a closed session after the city's monthly council meeting. He was terminated after he refused to resign as requested by the mayor and council.

City Attorney Thomas F. Stansfield instructed all city officials not to comment on Mr. Mangini's situation.

According to Mr. Mangini, his termination stems from the assertion that there was a conflict of interest in Mr. Mangini's handling of letters of credit for Daybreak Estates, the developer of the Roberts Mill Run subdivision at the northeast end of town.

Both of the developer's letters of credit -- money in an account from which developers draw as they build -- expired by September 1992. At that point, city officials were authorized to step in and protect the city's interests. Letters of credit help assure that a developer doesn't run out of money and leave a project unfinished.

Mr. Mangini said he immediately began trying to get the letters of credit renewed. He said that when he was fired, he was told by the mayor and City Council that he had not tried to rectify the situation.

"I admit, I missed the expiration on the first letter of credit, but I was away doing my military service when it expired," said Mr. Mangini, who is in U.S. Army Reserve.

"But as soon as I found out about it, I sent out a letter to the developer telling him that the letter of credit had to be renewed before the city would take over the development."

Mr. Mangini has several letters dating from Sept. 2, 1992, through Aug. 6, 1993, that he sent to developer Samuel Rothblum, telling him to re-establish the letters of credit or face repercussions from the city.

In a letter dated Oct. 9, 1992, Mr. Mangini indicated to Mr. Rothblum that his application and fee for a zoning certificate were being returned to him until he complied with the city's requests.

According to notations typed at the bottom of the letters and other documents, copies were sent to the mayor and City Council, Clerk Treasurer Linda M. Hess, Code Enforcement Officer Laverne "Smitty" Smith, and Mr. Stansfield.

The alleged conflict of interest appeared a few months ago when Mangini began making arrangements to purchase a home in Roberts Mill Run through PaineWebber Mortgage Finance Inc., in Rockville. The company had financed homes in that development before, Mr. Mangini said.

In a July 22 letter sent to Mr. Rothblum, Mr. Stansfield said Mr. Mangini would no longer handle items related to the project "so as to avoid any appearance of impropriety in as much as the city manager plans to purchase a home in Roberts Mill Run."

"I stopped that same guy's work [Mr. Rothblum's] on Baumgardner Avenue until he put in the street lights, and he was roaring mad, this same guy I am supposed to be helping," Mr. Mangini said. "To say I wasn't doing anything [to solve the problems with the development] was a lie.

"And there wasn't a conflict of interest, either. The only relationship the builder had to me was that he built the house," Mr. Mangini said. "The builder was not financing the house."

The money connection became a moot point while Mr. Mangini was away on active military service in late July. The loan request was turned down, and his wife, Gale, had to make arrangements to buy a house in Littlestown, Pa., before the family had to move from their East Baltimore Street home on Aug. 31.

"I'm not sure if the council knew that we didn't get the loan, but the mayor did," Mr. Mangini said. "He knew we weren't going to be able to get the house."

Mr. Mangini said the council never questioned the expired letters of credit when members approved each month the city's financial report, on which the expired letters of credit were listed with the other items in the Taneytown savings account.

No one talked to him about letters of credit which were expired when he before he took job in January 1992, Mr. Mangini said.

It is for those reasons that he feels the real cause for his dismissal lies elsewhere.

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