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Olszewski: No watchdog for Baltimore County’s watchdog

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski has ruled out creating an oversight board for the county inspector general.

That puts to rest a controversy that has dogged Olszewski for the past two years.

When Olszewski proposed an oversight boardfor the inspector general in 2021, he received withering criticism from county council members. They said it would have been packed with political appointees who would have had too much control over the inspector general’s investigations of county government.

Councilman Izzy Patoka, a Democrat, said at the time that his constituents opposed it.

“Every single comment has been against this proposed legislation as written,” Patoka said.

Olszewski backed off and instead created The Baltimore County Blue Ribbon Commission on Ethics and Accountability. After eight months of deliberations, it recommended no oversight board for the IG office.

In an interview on Wednesday’s On The Record on WYPR, Olszewski said he will abide by the commission’s recommendation that there be no oversight board.

Olszewski said, “I plan to follow that recommendation, that was the purpose of the conversation.”

Another proposal from the blue ribbon commission is that the inspector general’s office be able to hire its own counsel when needed, rather than rely on the county attorney. There is money for that in Olszewski’s proposed budget.

Inspector General Kelly Madigan lobbied for the outside counsel, saying it was a conflict of interest for her to have to rely on the county’s attorney, who serves at the will of the county executive.

Her investigations have included members of the county council and the Olszewski administration.

Olszewski created the inspector general’s office in 2020 and has increased its size over the years.

“I’m very proud to have brought an inspector general to Baltimore County,” Olszewski said.

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