False Claims of Donation Raise Questions Around Planning of Minneapolis Black Expo
- Post AuthorBy Henry Wolff
- Post DateThu Mar 16 2023
Minneapolis’ top racial equity official misinformed the City Council — and the public — when she said last month that the Bush Foundation had committed $3 million to the city’s first Black expo, according to statements from the city and the foundation.
Not only had the foundation never committed a dime, the city never really asked, according to the statements.
The revelation raises questions surrounding the planning of the “I Am My Ancestors’ Wildest Dream Expo,” which drew far fewer attendees than initially hoped and required a late influx of taxpayer money.
In the end, the free Feb. 25 event at the Minneapolis Convention Center, while praised by some who attended, cost taxpayers upwards of $500,000 and drew some 3,700 people to register online. There’s no official attendance number, but it’s clearly far fewer than the 20,000 that Tyeastia Green, the city’s lead organizer, forecast weeks before.
Green was hired a year ago to lead the city’s race and equity efforts and serves as director of the newly formed Department of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.
The expo was to be the department’s — and the city’s — annual marquee event celebrating its African-American community. This year’s inaugural event carried extra weight because it was the first city-sponsored event about the Black experience since the police murder of George Floyd in 2020. The plan was for a combination of city and private funds to pay for it.
With the event only weeks away, word began to circulate around City Hall that Green’s department was short of funds, and on Feb. 17, an emergency City Council meeting was held to deal with the shortfall.
Green told the council that some unanticipated costs had arisen, but it was her story of what happened to the hoped-for private donations that caught everyone’s attention.
“We could not receive those funds,” she said, explaining that city attorneys had informed her that her direct solicitation of funds from private entities violated the city’s ethics code.
“So the money that we were receiving from corporate sponsorship, we had to return,” Green said.
Council Member LaTrisha Vetaw asked Green, “Do you remember how much money that was?”
Green responded: “Bush Foundation had offered us $3 million, but they had some stipulations that we could not satisfy, and I would say we probably had about almost $200,000 in funds from organizations.”
Green’s comments, which were reported in the Star Tribune later that day, created frustration among several council members who felt that a way should have been found to partner with willing donors without violating city ethics rules.
Green said she had a plan for that but her father died in November, and the plan “fell apart.”
Green portrayed the entire sequence of events as an honest mistake.
- Post TagsRace and Politics