A former Diversity, Equity and Inclusion commissioner spoke out and responded to allegations of self-dealing made by the county executive.
Matt Harris, former DEI commissioner, said the commission handled the ARP funds correctly and said the claims made by the county executive are inaccurate. Erie County Executive Brenton Davis said he is committed to creating a clean slate among the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission.
Davis said the commission has participated in a conflict of interest and said self-dealings have taken place.
“They never should’ve applied if those two individuals would’ve allocated money to five other organizations to which they don’t belong they would’ve been fine,” said Brenton Davis, Erie County Executive.
As a result, Davis has removed commissioner Adrienne Dixon, Gerald Blanks and Matt Harris from their positions. Harris said Davis has a right to vote him off the commission but said the claims are inaccurate.
“The work that we were doing, almost a little bit over a year, was good work in regard to those ARP dollars were designed to assist the BIPOC community. We were doing the right thing with those dollars,” said Matt Harris, founder, Eastside Renaissance.
Davis said using ARP dollars created a conflict of interest that he said goes against the bylines that created the commission.
“Article 72 that created the DEI commission section seven conflict of interest no member or employee of the commission shall acquire any financial interest in funds received Erie County,” said Brenton Davis, Erie County Executive.
Harris said the commission refrained from voting in the allocation of ARP funds in order to prevent this conflict.
“We did everything above board and if you read today’s paper, you see the Erie County solicitor acknowledges the same, and then the DEI commission solicitor, Tim Walkner, acknowledged the same,” Harris added.
Harris said the claims of self-dealing and improprieties are ridiculous but said everyone has their own opinion.