Howard County has parted ways with its government watchdog, Craig Glendenning, who penned a controversial report earlier this year scrutinizing a historically Black sorority’s event at a library.
Glendenning’s name appeared scrubbed this week from the Howard County Council’s website, which instead names Owen Clark as the acting auditor for the legislative branch. The auditor position is appointed by the five-person council chaired by Democrat Opel Jones, who didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday morning.
Glendenning could not be reached for comment. It was not immediately clear when he left office or who initiated the departure. He previously held the county auditor position since 2012, according to his LinkedIn page.
The longtime auditor faced scrutiny from County Council members earlier this year after publishing a report singling out the race, gender and appearance of sorority members who were using public library space for an event.
Library trustees, several council members and others in the community expressed outrage over an original draft of the audit for specifying how “African American women wearing white dresses were entering the building.”
The February report investigated an anonymous complaint made in October 2022 about a reception held at the library system’s new Equity Resource Center by a sorority organization honoring its 50th anniversary. The complainant alleged the event was held for the “personal benefit” of the library system’s president and CEO, Tonya Aikens, and claimed she was a member of the sorority and used taxpayer dollars to pay county workers to staff the event.
Aikens attended the event, but the library’s board of trustees stated at the time she had no role in planning it and was not a member of the sorority involved, nor of any sorority.
Library staff told auditors they do not charge the public or partners for use of facilities. Shortly after opening the Equity Resource Center in 2021 at the Central Branch in Columbia, staff issued an invitation to the community to partner on events related to local equity history, stories and matters that aligned with the library system’s equity statement.
The sorority chapter responded with a proposal for a 50th anniversary exhibit at the Equity Resource Center. The chapter staffed the event and covered the cost of food, wine and security, library staff told auditors.
In the fallout from the audit, the Howard County Council unanimously passed a bill that gave them more control over special investigations performed by county auditors.
Before a special audit begins, the county auditor must now inform the council of the rationale for the audit, the allegations that will be reviewed, the witnesses who will be interviewed, and anything else they request. The law also requires the county auditor to provide a preliminary draft of any special audit to the council before it is published.