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Female Employee Alleges 'Toxic' Work Environment Under Leopold

Three female former employees have now testified against Leopold.

An Anne Arundel County employee working under County Executive John R. Leopold detailed an alleged "toxic" work environment in a signed affidavit.

The affidavit was signed Sept. 1 by Carla Sagerholm, the county's community services manager. She testified that she is on medical leave after suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome from what she calls a "toxic environment at the Executive Offices." 

"We appear to be constantly watched for any behavior or acts that might reveal 'disloyalty,'" according to the affidavit.

Sagerholm's affidavit was first reported on by WBAL TV, and the full document can be read on its website.

Leopold and the county are currently facing two potentially costly litigations from 

Karla Hamner and Joan Harris are each pursuing cases against the county in U.S. District Court on grounds of wrongful termination. Hamner is seeking $300,000, and Harris is seeking nearly $1 million.

Sagerholm's testimony was added to Hamner's lawsuit against Leopold and the county. She said she's lived in fear for her job ever since she allegedly witnessed top county officials ordering Harris to be fired for speaking with Hamner's attorney.

A spokesman for the county executive told Patch he had no comment about Sagerholm.

In August, The Capital reported that three Anne Arundel County police officers testified that Leopold allegedly ordered the firing of an employee over a complaint about his behavior. Their testimony was also added to Hamner's case.

In light of these cases, Anne Arundel County Councilmen Jamie Benoit (D-4th District) of Crownsville and Jerry Walker (R-7th District) of Gambrills are reviving over $100,000. The second piece of legislation would empower the county attorney to pursue reimbursement.

Public hearings for both bills is set for Sept. 18.

My Opinion September 05, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I dare say that all employees feel that Leopold has created a "toxic" environment for them, I know as a resident of this, my County, I feel he has created a toxic environment for our community and neighborhoods and he continues to do so as he chooses which laws to enforce and which not to enforce even though we, the voters, passed them.....and so it goes...
My Opinion September 05, 2012 at 08:24 PM
By the way the Council has no business deciding how much money a person is "awarded" on their legal settlement should they win their case! We, the taxpayers, are paying for this abuse of power and they should have no say in it, unless they insist that the abuser pays the fee..that I would support!
D. Frank Smith (Editor) September 05, 2012 at 08:56 PM
If you read the story associated with that issue, it's precisely the case. Under the proposed legislation: "...if the individual is a county official in a case of misconduct, the official would have to foot the bill."
John Smith September 06, 2012 at 01:19 AM
@My Opinion: And exactLy who, in your opinion, should decide how much money a person is awarded on their legal settlemeNt if they win their case?
Patrick H. September 06, 2012 at 02:06 AM
If the proposed legislation were to pass who in their right mind would run for office? In order to defend (and the county would still have to foot the bill up front for this or no lawyer would take the case) there would never be a consent decreee or a plea. Talk about trashing the court docket and drawing things out.
Patrick H. September 06, 2012 at 02:15 AM
I doubt that 'all' employees feel the same way about anything. I know of several employees that think he is doing a great job. This is politics. Speaking to attorneys about county business or issues should cause you to be fired unless you have discussed it with the county attorney first. And since when has anyone enforced all the laws?
MARVEN CROSBY September 06, 2012 at 12:15 PM
american taliban You can see this Republican group in Annapolis is the most corrupt group of elected officials in some time. Ist County Exec. Leopold has 2 counts of official misconduct ,firing people that question him, using police as look outs for sexual meetings. Then you have Rep. Don Dwyer "Bible Thumper" involved in an accident now admitted that he was drinking before the incident. which involved seven including children, with serious injuries. 3rd. Derek Fink after receiving feedback from the county Ethics Commission, Councilman Fink backed out of the case, removing himself from any future involvement in the rezoning appeal. The move was based on the fact that Fink is partnered with two business operations nearby, The Greene Turtle and Big Vanilla.
Amy Leahy September 06, 2012 at 01:30 PM
D. Frank Smith - can you please explain the proposed legislation regarding the county council approving legal settlements over $100,000? I'm confused because if it's a court awarded settlement (is there such a thing?) then what business is it of the county council to challenge this? If however it is an out of court settlement, then it makes more sense to me that the council members - our elected officials - would and should have a voice since they are the stewards of the taxpayer's money. I also have issues with the county council's involvement with the Riverdale Baptist Church settlement. Because of that council's decisions (not the same council as this one) the taxpayers would up paying more than was originally awarded by the court.
Marian Coombs September 06, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Crony capitalism is definitely toxic. What could be worse than collusion between government and money men to fleece taxpayers? There oughta be a law ... and of course there are laws, hundreds of them, including the law "Thou shalt not take unfair advantage of one's elected position to enrich oneself and disenfranchise the public."
D. Frank Smith (Editor) September 06, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I can explain it only as far as the bills are currently written. As it stands, large settlements with the county are reviewed by the Self-Insurance Fund Committee. If the legislation (2 pieces) proposed by Benoit and Walker are approved later this month, then any settlement over $100,000 must be approved by the County Council.
Patrick H. September 06, 2012 at 02:15 PM
It appears as if the Self-Insurance Fund would make decisions based upon the $$$ involved and the potential for additional costs if not settled. Is there any doubt that the council would make politics a priority? Jamie B. usually has a good head on his shoulders but I am not wondering if there is another agenda that is politically motivated.
Patrick H. September 06, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Be careful when using the word "taliban" in any printed format. Big brother really is watching and rightfully so when it comes to terrorism. But I see that you did get my point. I guess that politicians can make themselves 'bullet-proof' by putting everything they own in the names of others so that they litterally qualify for food stamps. I hope this bill fails completly.
Amy Leahy September 06, 2012 at 09:49 PM
My concern is that a court decision pertaining to settlement should not have the county council muddying up the waters. In the Riverdale Baptist Church case, the county lost a court decision and was ordered to pay damages to the church for obstructing the church's right to build a school on land they owned. Our county council decided to challenge the court's decision and continued to fight the church on building the school. As a result, it was back to court where we taxpayers were then straddled with a larger amount - $3.25 Million - ordered to pay to the church. In my opinion, this was an abuse of the council's authority since members of the council were responsible for the whole problem to begin with.
Patrick H. September 06, 2012 at 11:56 PM
%Amy - Right on target. How about the council members having to foot the bill for the additional expenses? Can we make any of the new proposal retro-active? Did the council ever seek a legal opinion on any of this before going forward? How about making any legal opinions public record?
Patsy September 07, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Isn't that the church that Mr. Walker attends? Or closely associated with? Hmmm.....
Amy Leahy September 08, 2012 at 12:16 AM
My husband tells me there's a settlement - usually associated with out-of-court stuff...and a court ordered judgement. Guess that could help me to differentiate in my own mind….
Amy Leahy September 08, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Patsy; No Jerry Walker does not attend that church. Get your facts straight before trying to muddy up the waters. He also was not on the county council during that time so please do not try to disparage him. Patrick H. - The whole thing is a matter of public record, first of all. Second….the county is self-insured and really….this is why the public needs to PAY ATTENTION to what our elected officials are doing. Unfortunately too many of us would rather watch reality T.V. than pay attention to what the government is doing to our lives.
My Opinion September 11, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Dear Mr. Smith...it is "My Opinion" that the lawyers should decide what the settlement should be or the Judge if it goes to court...."elected officials" should not be a part of the settlement...they should obey the laws they pass and not think that they are above the laws they pass......just my opinion ....money is just a small price to pay a person who has been offended by this and any other administration and, as a taxpayer, I will gladly pay that offended person should the court award them!
My Opinion September 11, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Amy, if the County accepts an "out of court settlement" then, and it is my opinion, the County knows it will lose the case. In many cases even though the Administration knows it will lose the case, they continue to spend taxpayer's money appealing the case till it reaches the ultimate conclusion. This process costs us, the taxpayers, millions of dollars. But hey it isn't "their" money it is OURS but the politics dictates the fight....and so it goes....
My Opinion September 11, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Amy: Well stated! :)
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