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DPW drop-off centers investigated by Office of the Inspector General

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Posted at 12:37 PM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-16 12:40:02-04

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City’s Office of the Inspector General is actively investigating two Baltimore City Department of Public Works drop-off centers.

Personnel from the OIG were seen removing boxes from the drop-off centers at the Southwest Citizen’s Convenience Center in Cherry Hill and the Eastern Citizen's Convenience Center in the city’s Pulaski Industrial Area.

The drop-off centers allow residents to discard household goods that can’t easily be thrown out in normal trash collection like bulk trash, scrap metal, glass, cans, cardboard, furniture, etc. Substances deemed more hazardous are not permitted.

The Department of Public Works said they are cooperating but do not know what the focus of the investigation is. The OIG said the investigation is not related to current investigations of former Mayor Catherine Pugh and the “Healthy Holly” controversy.

The OIG was established in 2005 to serve as a watchdog over city agencies and practices, with a particular focus on eliminating fraud, waste, and abuse, and promoting efficiency, cost effectiveness, and public trust.

Recently, the office, run by current Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming, has targeted several cases of abuse and waste in city government. A DPW worker was eventually charged and sentenced to a five-year prison term for stealing and selling nearly $10,000 of old water meters as scrap metal. The waste of more than $215,000 by the Baltimore Department of Transportation was also brought to light by the OIG. The OIG discovered a Baltimore IT staffer who may have exposed the city to security risks while misusing city owned technology and engaging in political activity. In 2018, a report from the OIG said the city’s Office of Chronic Disease Prevention spent much of its lead abatement funding on travel, promotional items, and gifts.

A 2018 ballot initiative aimed to move the office out of the purview of the Mayor’s Office and make it an independent actor within the city’s government successfully passed.

In the 2019 state legislative session, a bill to further authorize the OIG to investigate the city’s police department and school system was withdrawn before it could reach the body’s floor.

In February of that year, Cumming said she was getting push back as she tried to investigate Baltimore City Public School System.