City officials respond to outgoing NHHS Director’s allegations of racist treatment

Spokane City Hall
Copyright 4 News Now

SPOKANE, Wash. — City of Spokane’s Neighborhoods, Housing, and Human Services (NHHS) director Cupid Alexander accused City Administrator Johnnie Perkins of mistreating him because of his race.

Now, city officials are responding to these allegations.

RELATED: Spokane NHHS Director accuses City Administrator of mistreatment due to race

The City of Spokane issued the following statement:

“Mr. Alexander remains employed by the City in paid status with full benefits through July 30, the date he requested as his final day. Human Resources is communicating with him on further details.

The allegations Mr. Alexander made in the email are very serious. Racism has no place in the organization, community, or country. Questions have been asked during his time with the City to gain greater clarity and understanding about work and resource needs related to the division’s responsibilities for neighborhoods, customer service, housing, and homelessness. Race has not been a subject of those conversations.

Connection and comparison to the recent departures of two other employees within Community, Housing, and Human Services, a department within the Neighborhoods, Housing, and Human Services division, are not compatible. The situations are unique to the individuals and it is unfair to draw parallels between them.

A transition plan to continue advancing all NHHS work, including next steps announced in the homelessness plan, will be finalized once meetings with staff are completed to gain their perspectives on the division’s needs moving forward. Recruitment has already begun to find a CHHS department director and finalists have been identified for the senior manager position in CHHS.”

City Council President Breean Beggs issued the following statement:

“News of Cupid Alexander’s departure from the City of Spokane is a huge blow to the region’s efforts to reach functional zero homelessness. In my experience, he was an extremely reliable source of knowledge regarding the most effective approaches to addressing homelessness and housing issues facing the City of Spokane. Although the City Council does not supervise Division Directors, from my vantage point, he seemed to be cut out of the decision-making loop and the fullness of his advice was not implemented in a timely manner. Most recently, his recommendation following the point-in-time count was to add housing inventory to our regional shelter system, yet it was reported out by the communications department that he recommended the opposite. I am just now reviewing emails that document what appears to be deep dysfunction leading up to Alexander’s departure after only a few months of valuable service to the City of Spokane. I hope that the Administration’s review of them will show how we can do better in the future. In the meantime, I, and I trust the rest of the City Council, will do my best to support hard-working staff in promptly implementing a plan that will get the hundreds of currently unsheltered houseless community members into safe and appropriate housing for their health and the health of our businesses and neighborhoods.”

Councilwoman Candace Mumm said:

“I am deeply concerned about the serious allegations raised by Mr. Alexander. I have always found him to be professional, responsive, diligent, and knowledgeable in every encounter I had with him during his tenure with the City of Spokane. The City Council takes any allegations of prejudicial mistreatment extremely seriously and works hard to ensure a full and fair review of them. The City of Spokane has policies in place that prohibit such treatment and I hope and expect that the Administration will undertake a serious examination of the allegations and the relevant facts.”

Councilwoman Lori Kinnear said:

“In his time with the City, Mr. Alexander’s contributions were invaluable, providing innovative ideas, strong strategies, and longstanding experience related to housing. These allegations of racial mistreatment are serious, and I want them to be thoroughly investigated – no such mistreatment should have been endured and no such treatment will be tolerated.”

Councilwoman Karen Stratton said, “As an elected official and former City employee, I have no tolerance for mistreatment of any kind, including that described by Mr. Alexander. In my role on Council, I will not stand by silently until there is full transparency and context on this matter. Our employees and our citizens deserve better.”

“Our City would be in a better position long-term with someone like Cupid still in place,” said Councilwoman Kate Burke. “He understands what real solutions are needed to help solve our housing issues and his expertise will be greatly missed.”

4 News Now reached out to Councilman Michael Cathcart, who gave us this statement:

“Not being the Councilmember appointed to the CHHS board, I didn’t have too much regular interaction with Cupid, but I was very impressed with his work product and tireless work ethic and his immense base of knowledge—particularly around housing issues, which is a top concern and passion of mine. I really wish he was sticking around. Any allegations, such as those described by Cupid in his email today, deserve to be investigated.”