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What’s Up With Baltimore City’s Inspector General?

January 29, 2009

We can sort of understand why Baltimore Inspector General Hilton Green might not return our calls promptly. In the fall of 2007, we made detailed and critical note of his failure to follow up on the fairly rampant, fairly blatant phenomenon of building inspectors not doing anything much about shoddy construction, damage to neighboring structures, illegal demolitions, outright building collapses, etc.

We still think it’s a pretty big deal in a supposedly modern, U.S. city to have bunches of buildings literally fall down every year. But, we figure, he’s got a big job–a whole city full of potential corruption to go after.

So we asked him, about 14 months ago, about his department’s annual report, which was, at the time, about a year overdue. “I haven’t been here a year,” said Green back then, and promised a report in the spring of 2008.

The annual report could be expected to reveal interesting things, like how many cases did his office open, and how many concluded; how many people got canned on account of they weren’t doing right, and maybe how many cases got forwarded for criminal prosecution; and maybe even some names and other details that would give a citizen some inkling of what the I.G. was up to and what sort of perpetrations have been curbed by his good efforts.

Spring, 2008 came and went, with no sign of an annual report in the “reports” section of the I.G.’s web site.

Now, we don’t want to seem like sticklers for the rulebook–we know how that goes over here in laid-back, sunny Baltimore City. But we feel compelled to point out that Green’s $130-odd,000-a-year job requires an annual report by Sept. 1. It is spelled out in the 2005 executive order that created the office, at Section 22.

Summer, 2008 came and went. Still no 2007 annual report, and no 2008 annual report.

Last August we shot Green an e-mail. Didn’t hear back.

Through the grapevine we heard that Green had a person working on the annual report, but that person could not interface with the software and/or the web site. That was back in October or November 2008. We called and left a message. Heard nothing back.

Today (Jan. 29, 2009) we called again. Inspector General Green was not in, but was expected to return to the office on Jan. 30.

This time he called back! Inspector General Hilton Green left a message on our phone: “The annual report is being worked on as we speak. I’ll be sending it to the printer in the next two weeks and I will be covering that period that was vacated during that 2006 period. So basically I’ll be covering 2007 and 2008. Have a good day.”

Indeed it is a good day! Soon there will be two years of report of the Inspector General’s office’s doings. Government transparency at its finest. And we look forward to reading it as soon as it’s made available.

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