Audit of Black History Month Expo released

The auditors’ report identifies dozens of questionable transactions.

You will recall the fallout back in March from the disastrous, late-February, Expo put on at the convention center by the City of Minneapolis to honor Black History Month.

Early ambitions were for a crowd of 20,000, but the actual number for the scaled-down event may have only totaled in the hundreds.

The aftermath saw the city’s Director of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, Tyeastia Green, step down after only a year in the newly-created position.

The city commissioned an audit by a top accounting firm of the event, officially billed as the “I Am My Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams Expo,” which took place on February 25.

The report, released earlier this week, can be found here. Media reports had pegged the event budget at $450,000 after a last-minute infusion of cash by the city council. The auditors found that $681,000 was spent on the event (report p. 5, paragraph 1). That figure includes $108,000 associated with the city’s use of the city-owned convention center (p. 8).

An Associated Press (AP) story on the audit report focuses on the finding that most of the external budget for the local event went to out-of-state vendors (report p. 10, paragraph 4).

More interesting is another finding from that same report page that documents how 49 invoices received from separate vendors used identical templates, with 14 of those invoices being potentially duplicates, using the same invoice number.

On page 11 of the report, the auditors document how one contracted Expo performer pulled out at the last minute, not having received their full fee ($67,000) in advance. The fate of the $33,500 fronted for that performance is not made clear in the report, and auditors call for more follow-up (p. 13, recommendation 1).

Following up on that and other recommendations of the auditors, the city is expected to continue an investigation of the event.