(Aug. 8, 2014) The Town of Ocean City has denied an information request by Ocean City Today to view reports from a Saturday, July 26, incident that resulted in the temporary suspension of city paramedic and Worcester County Commissioners candidate, Mike Maykrantz.
Again citing its non-disclosure policy on “personnel matters,” the city acknowledged the existence of, the incident reports, which center around the unauthorized pickup of two women by a city ambulance under questionable circumstances.
According to City Solicitor Guy Ayres, the available materials are not active duty reports, but rather reports generated through the Ocean City Fire Department’s internal discipline policy.
“I’m not aware of any EMS reports,” Ayres said. “I reviewed information about what occurred…but an investigation of an incident or incidents that may or may not lead to a disciplinary matter is something we don’t release.”
However, the city is verbally confirming to the public and media that an incident occurred, and is being dealt with.
“We did receive a complaint about an employee who offered two walkers who were carrying a package of unopened alcohol a ride in the ambulance,” said City Communications Manager, Jessica Waters.
“We hold our employees to a very high professional standard, and take seriously any instance in which they behave below expectations. The employee will be held accountable for their actions.”
The incident occurred during the malfunction of the Route 50 Bridge on Saturday, July 26, when the city’s Paramedic 3 ambulance was unable to get back into town and was awaiting further emergency calls on the west side of the bridge.
Apparently, the city received phone calls from at least one motorist reporting that the ambulance was seen picking up two scantily-clad women with six-packs of beer, and transporting them to the Park and Ride. What occurred after this, or when the women left the ambulance, is unclear at this time.
According to confidential sources, the two ambulance’s junior crewmembers subsequently filed reports accusing Maykrantz, the third and most senior medic on the rig, of soliciting the women and going through with the rendezvous despite his crew’s objections.
Maykrantz did not return calls seeking further comment.
A long-time OCFD employee, Maykrantz is the former president of the city’s firefighters’ union and currently the Democratic candidate for the Worcester County Commissioners’ District 3 seat. He was reportedly suspended for 48 hours of shifts.
Although this newspaper has argued that any and all reports of on-duty action by public safety personnel should be public record, Ayres contended that the two crewmembers’ reports about the incident did not constitute such a record.
“An EMS incident report would be when EMS is called for medical service or to transport somebody,” Ayres said. “In that case, they would redact the names and medical information, but they would still not give you any information about personnel.”
However, the Maryland Open Meeting Act does not bar the city from releasing any information about this disposition of its personnel – but rather gives it the option to deny such a release if it believes doing so is in the city’s best interest.
Ocean City Today submitted its request and received a denial back from Ayres on Monday, Aug. 4. At that time, Waters said, the Mayor and City Council had not been apprised of the issue. It was unclear if or when City Manager David Recor was also involved.
This would beg the question, then, as to who in City Hall actually makes the decision in cases where disclosure is believed to be optional.
“I can tell you they typically look to me as to whether or not we can refuse the request,” Ayres said. “The line from the City Manager’s office has always been that personnel info is not released. Whether that comes from the council or the City Manager, I couldn’t tell you.”
Waters said she was not aware of any set policy regarding the release of records, but that it may be brought up to the Mayor and Council in the future.
“I don’t know that the council has ever discussed, as far as I’m aware, who should and should not make the decision as to what falls under the Open Meetings Act,” Ayres said.