Howard County Councilman Opel Jones introduced legislation Monday to reform the role of the county auditor after a recent report led to protests and calls for the auditor’s removal.
Last month, County Auditor Craig Glendenning released a report questioning whether the Howard County Library System gave a local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha special treatment when the group held an event at the Central Branch in October 2022.
However, activists say the report unfairly targeted Library System CEO and President Tonya Aikens because she is Black. The activists and two council members – Jones and Christiana Rigby – say that repeated references to “American-American women in white dresses” in the auditor’s report were inappropriate.
The bill would require the auditor to inform the council before conducting audits involving the misuse of county funds. The bill would also require the auditor to consult with the council before issuing a report.
Activists, as well as Jones and Rigby, have called for Glendenning’s firing. Before Monday’s council hearing, dozens of protesters renewed their calls for Glendenning’s removal.
The council has the authority to terminate Glendenning, but three votes are required. Jones said only he and Rigby currently support that.
“To be honest, the majority of the council doesn’t want to terminate. They don’t want to suspend. They don’t want to even write a letter of reprimand,” Jones said. “They don’t want to do anything.”
Council member Liz Walsh released a statement Monday calling for an independent investigation into Glendenning and the report.
“My hope is to begin to mend the community’s trust in our local government,” she said.
Councilman David Youngmann declined to comment while Councilwoman Deb Yung did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I don’t know why three council members are looking to turn a blind eye to this,” Jones said.
The library maintains that it routinely lends its spaces free of charge to outside groups. The library also says the sorority paid for all expenses connected to the event.
Glendenning did not immediately respond to a request for comment.