BALTIMORE — A bill that would have strengthened the Baltimore City Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) ability to investigate where your tax dollars are going is now dead.
Senate Bill 818, giving the OIG oversight of the Baltimore Police Department and Baltimore City school system was withdrawn according to the bill’s sponsor State Senator Antonio Hayes (D-Baltimore City).
City Inspector General Isabel Cumming looks into waste, fraud, and corruption within Baltimore City government. Despite there being a charter amendment that establishes the jurisdiction of the OIG, Cumming had hoped the bill would make clear that the OIG has the authority to investigate any city agency that takes taxpayer money.
In January, Cumming told WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii she was getting push back from the school system while trying to investigate a hotline complaint.
“Right now, my biggest, my biggest concern has been with, believe it or not, with the school system, which takes $200 million and they're questioning whether I have the jurisdiction to look into them," said Cumming.
Senator Hayes said he decided to pull the bill because he didn’t want to proceed without having all of the information.
“A lot of information has come to light. I didn't realize, [it] has been brought to me that both the school system, as well as the police department, already have inspector generals that perform this role already,” Hayes said.
This is partially true.
Former Baltimore City Police Commissioner Darryl de Sousa created an inspector general position last year.
The school system does not have an inspector general, but rather an investigative arm within the school system’s law department and an internal audit department.
However, Cumming believes there's a need for an independent party to look into sensitive matters.
Even without the bill, the OIG may still be able to investigate. Currently, the office has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the police department that renews on a yearly basis.
And after WMAR-2 News’ Mallory Sofastaii’s report aired in February, Cumming met with Baltimore City Schools Superintendent Sonja Santelises.
They've agreed to start working toward developing an MOU together in the spirit of transparency and accountability.