Reparations commission requests audit

DRIVEN BY DATA: Community Reparations Commission Vice Chair Dewana Little, left, and Chair Dwight Mullen told county commissioners Jan. 17 that their proposed audit would gather high-quality data to inform future reparations work. Screen capture courtesy of Buncombe County

Asheville’s Community Reparations Commission wants the city and Buncombe County to stop harming Black residents. And its members want outside assurance that those harms — which they say have been tied to “institutional processes” in both governments — have actually stopped.

To that end, the reparations commission has recommended an independent audit of the city of Asheville and Buncombe County. Commission Chair Dwight Mullen and Vice Chair Dewana Little presented that recommendation to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners during a Jan. 17 briefing.

The proposed audit would look at whether the city and county are complying with “federal and state laws, regulatory bodies, codes of conduct, court orders and consent degrees,” with a focus on damage caused to the Black community by noncompliance.

Gathering and consolidating data is a primary goal of the recommended audit, said Mullen. Little added that the reparations commission’s focus groups, which examine specific areas such as housing, criminal justice and education, have faced challenges in getting needed information from city and county staff.

Data is being received months after first being requested, Little explained, often because it isn’t readily available as public records. She gave the example of medical records, which she said often weren’t sorted by race in the past. Reparations project manager Christine Edwards said that, because such data isn’t easily located, government staffers have to spend a lot of extra time obtaining information from less formal sources.

“The data that we’re using are data sources that aren’t official, ranging from student papers that compose the state of Black Asheville to a variety of consultancy reports that may or may not be particularly germane to what we are studying,” explained Mullen. “Rather than the subcommittees asking for an array of data, taking a shotgun approach, [the audit] would actually home in on the needs of the subcommittees using official sources of data before we offer recommendations for policy adoption.”

The exact scope of the audit would be determined by the reparations commission in tandem with city and county staff. Assistant County Manager DK Wesley suggested that the work outlined thus far could be breaking new ground.

“We’re doing research, but we haven’t found a specific audit like this being done anywhere in the United States,” Wesley said. She noted that, while compliance audits are very common, they typically don’t include the array of information that the reparations commission is seeking.

Mullen said that he was confident that the reparations commission, in conjunction with the city and county, would be able to find a consultant interested in conducting the type of audit the commission is seeking.

“What we are looking at doing has not been done before. But I believe we are anticipating what’s happening on the forefront of other reparations movements,” he said. “Rather than politics or ideology driving it, we are looking at data-based solutions.”

The county commissioners are tentatively scheduled to vote on approving the audit during their meeting Tuesday, Feb. 7. If approved, a request for proposals to carry out the work would be advertised in the spring. No cost estimate for the audit was provided; the expense would be covered by previously allocated city and county reparations funds.


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8 thoughts on “Reparations commission requests audit

  1. indy499

    Of course you can engage someone to do the work for you, put it in a binder and add it to all the other outsourced work the city and county purchase.

  2. Enlightened Enigma

    These people are now our naturally evil enemies in this city. Shame these people.

  3. Carl Mumpower

    “Rather than politics or ideology driving it, we are looking at data-based solutions.”

    Sounds good, but the functional engagement of this group indicates a this is precisely a search for data that will support their politics and ideology.

    Then there’s the issue that these good folks are stuck and need some distracting motion to conceal their lack of productive action.

    If there’s a study in Asheville, that’s almost always the underlying agenda and impact – (1) Justify a pre-conceived agenda or (2) distract from a failure. A study on how to figure out how to prevent a future ‘40,000 people can’t flush their toilet event’ is the most recent example.

    Shame on the people who conceived the regressive nightmare of a reparations fantasy to begin with.

  4. C

    What is the timeframe for these studies?

    And will there be comparisons with “institutional processes” during that timeframe that were established to favor blacks, to counteract harms?

    It doesn’t seem right to dismiss protections that have been enacted in the past. Some people must have benefitted. Who are they, and how did they profit?

    To establish an end figure, harm will have to have good subtracted from it, as payments already made.

  5. Richard B.

    Do the activities re reparations that the above story describes make any sense to anyone? It sure does not to me. An audit of the city and county finances and much, much more? The city and county publish annual reports that are available to the public.
    The on-going problem facing the reparations folks is simple; – the concept is based on a false premise that has no moral grounding or rationale.

  6. BC

    The first audit should be on how the reparations money has been spent and what the people who were hired to administer reparations and then quit actually got done.

  7. Mike Rains

    I have been following the Reparations Committee work via agendas, meeting minutes, and press releases). I can tell you this very large committee is floundering (maybe also foundering). Those that aggressively pushed for the Committee saw it as an opening for substantial monetary compensation (you know…”Just Write the Check!”) for all the past wrongs committed by our forefathers, including urban renewal. Fortunately, the City (for now anyway) has made clear that Reparations will not include monetary compensation. Not withstanding, the 1/2 million/year budget is not insignificant (particularly for a city that can’t keep the water on), buh what to do? Thus the recent idea cooked up to have the County and City conduct audits to ensure that no more “harm is being done”. Of course, City Council and the County Commission can hardly deny this request as they too know that the Committee if floundering. So we have to appear as though something productive is being done.
    Holding on to a attitude/mentality of victimization, long after it has passed is detrimental to moving forward. That should be the lesson learned and communicated by the Reparations Committee.

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