Howard County Council Chair Christiana Rigby and member Opel Jones said they would introduce legislation Monday night to establish official processes for audits as public outcry mounts over an Auditor’s Office investigation into an October event celebrating the opening of a county library exhibit documenting a historically Black sorority chapter’s 50 years of community service.
Community leaders plan to rally outside the George Howard Building in Ellicott City on Monday night ahead of the council’s 7 p.m. legislative session, demanding removal of county auditor Craig Glendenning from office.
[ Howard County Council member ‘appalled’ that auditor remains in position after Black sorority event investigation ]
At a March 1 closed County Council session, Rigby and Jones were the only council members to support Glendenning’s immediate termination following a report his office issued Feb. 14 that they say exceeded the auditor’s authority and used racially insensitive language. Three of five council members must agree in order to terminate an employee.
“As I continue to call for the termination of the auditor and lead investigator, it is imperative to further define and explicitly state what the auditor and their staff can and cannot do in Howard County,” Jones said in a Monday morning news release. “We have amazing and dedicated law enforcement entities who should be the personnel to complete surveillance of locations, events and/or citizens. This is not the responsibility of the Auditor’s Office.”
Glendenning could not be immediately reached for comment.
The County Council appoints and oversees the auditor, who serves as a “watch dog” over the executive branch and ensures county funds are spent appropriately, according to the county website.
Rigby and Jones’ proposed legislation would require the Auditor’s Office to meet with the County Council to outline the scope of an audit before initiating any investigation. It would also require the auditor to provide additional rationale, a timeline and a list of witnesses and records being sought. The council would then be consulted on a preliminary draft and findings before the release of an official report.
The bill would amend the Howard County Code, specifically Sections 212 and 213, which oversee the duties of the county auditor.
“Increasing transparency in government is crucial to regaining our community’s trust and respect,” Rigby said in the release. “This legislation creates a system of checks and balances, formal oversight, and accountability with the Auditor’s Office.”
Since the legislation under consideration is a late-filed bill, four council members must vote to add it to the legislative agenda Monday night. If added, the bill will be read Monday night and testimony will be accepted at a March 20 public hearing.
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At Monday’s rally, speakers will call for Glendenning’s termination and ask for formal apologies to library system CEO and President Tonya Aikens and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
“I don’t think the council understands how deeply seated this process — and the comments that this public official felt comfortable in making — impact the African American community and continue to rip away the scab of healing from what we see in history every day,” said the Rev. Larry Walker, a pastor at Celebration Church in Columbia.
Walker said he is organizing the rally alongside the African-American Community Roundtable of Howard County, Celebration Church, St. John Baptist Church and members of the nine international historically Black sororities and fraternities that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council or “Divine Nine.”
To view livestreams of County Council meetings, click here: https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Online-Tools/Watch-Us.