Forensic Audit Confirms Misuse of Taxpayer Money
“As a result of these findings, the Office of Community and Civic Life will no longer provide grant funds to SWNI for district coalition services” ~ City Council Ordinance 190321, February 2021.
“As per Council directive, the City will not and does not conduct business with the former contract holder SWNI.” ~ City of Portland response to ongoing complaints about SWNI, February 2022.
July 2020 – City Council withheld funding for the former District Coalition Office contractor Southwest Neighborhoods, Inc. (SWNI), until completion of a forensic audit of SWNI due to reports of continued suspicious activity after a known fraud incident, abuse of power, conflicts of interest, lack of transparency and inequitable practices.
November 2020 – An independent financial crimes consulting firm Marsh Minick, P.C. released an evidence-based audit to City Council that documented SWNI’s financial mismanagement and internal control deficiencies. The audit documented financial mismanagement of $179,332.24, including conflicts of interest and misrepresentation, and a separate financial loss of $174,265.25 resulting from theft that was adjudicated in court. It noted that SWNI was awarded a PPP loan for $66,300.00 based on an application that inflated their budget to create the illusion of a shortfall as a result of COVID. The cost of the audit was $69,000.00.
The audit noted board dysfunction including harassment and bullying which are in opposition to the City’s values of equity, inclusion, and collaboration.
February 2021 – City Council directed Civic Life to provide services to Southwest and stated the city will “no longer provide grant funds to SWNI.”
Council directed that a Work Session be scheduled so they could “work collaboratively on the larger issue of service provision to neighborhood associations and district coalitions to ensure the provision of equitable services and to resolve long standing issues as identified by the City Auditor’s Office.”
October 2021 – Arnold Creek Neighborhood Association terminated membership in the SWNI coalition, following similar action by Southwest Hills Residential League (June 2021), South Burlingame Neighborhood Association (July 2021) and Bridlemile Neighborhood Association (September 2021).
February 2022 – City of Portland responded to ongoing complaints about SWNI. The Southwest community was assured that contrary to SWNI’s communications, all neighborhood associations in Southwest receive support form Civic Life and “the City will not and does not conduct business with the former contract holder SWNI.“
Board Members Win Lawsuit. SWNI ordered to turn over records.
March 2022 – Summary Judgement Public Records Law applies to District Coalition (Raindrop Works website). “The district coalition was, for purposes of state public records law, a quasi-government entity and was required to turn over particular records to Ms. Hiller-Webb and Ms. Tyvoll… For an organization that’s had a historical record of misusing well over $400,000 in local and federal taxpayer money since the beginning of the 21st century, using it’s position to prop up predominantly white homeowner neighborhoods at the expense of the rest of the city, it seems that this may well be the closing of one of the final chapters of the organization. Even so, to look at SWNI’s website, they currently make no effort to acknowledge their status as an unofficial district coalition, effectively burying their heads in the sand and hoping the controversies will one day blow over.”