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Olszewski: No One From County Government To Serve On Inspector General Work Group

Baltimore County Johnny Olszewski Credit: Baltimore County
Baltimore County Johnny Olszewski Credit: Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said he soon will pick people to serve on a panel that will propose changes to how Baltimore County’s Inspector General’s office works.

While he is not ready to name names, Olszewski said members of the work group will not be part of county government.

“We’re not looking to have members of the administration or the council or for that matter the IG’s office itself,” Olszewski said. “I think all of those offices will be part of the conversation in terms of understanding and hearing from.”

Olszewski was roundly criticized last month when he proposed making changes to the inspector general’s office, including creating an oversight board packed with political appointees. Inspector General Kelly Madigan said that would cripple her autonomy, raising the possibility that she might investigate someone who has oversight over her office.

Olszewski scrapped that legislation and said he would form the work group instead. Olszewski said he and Madigan have talked since he backed off the original legislation.

“You should judge us on the final product,” Olszewski said. “I have every confidence that by the time this process is done, even individuals who have raised concerns initially will be supportive of where we land.”

Olszewski created the Inspector General’s office as part of his effort to make county government more transparent.

Calls for an oversight board for Madigan came after she was grilled by members of the Baltimore County Council in May over her investigative practices and how she ran her office. One of Madigan’s critics, Democratic Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, had a professional relationship with the subject of a Madigan investigation.

Madigan interviewed Bevins’ then campaign treasurer, Chris McCollum, as part of an investigation of the Baltimore County Agricultural Center. McCollum was the center’s director from 2010 to 2019. He recently resigned as the county’s deputy director of economic development.

At the agricultural center, Madigan found that between 2013 and 2020, items totaling more than $38,000 were either purchased in a way that violated county policy or are missing.

Olszewski’s initial legislation to revamp the inspector general’s office received fierce blowback. A majority of council members told WYPR at the time they opposed it. Olszewski’s proposed oversight board would have been made up mostly of appointees from the executive and legislative branches of county government. The legislation also would have changed the access Madigan had to county records.

Olszewski announced the legislation on Friday, July 2 and scrapped it four says later, before it could be introduced to the county council.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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