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Review of Burlington’s Juneteenth event alleges mismanagement, finds no evidence of fraud

Burlington City Hall on a winter afternoon with the U.S. and city flags blowing in wind.
Meg Malone
VPR File
A review of Burlington’s recent Juneteenth events ordered by Mayor Miro Weinberger found no evidence of fraud, but said there appeared to be “mismanagement or carelessness” during the 2022 event. The former head of the city’s Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging department says she wasn’t part of planning the event.

An outside review of the city of Burlington’s recent Juneteenth events didn’t find any evidence of embezzlement or fraud, but said there appeared to be “mis-management or carelessness” leading up to the 2022 Juneteenth event.

Burlington hired Sheehey, Furlong and Behm, a local law firm, to conduct the review. The report, released on Thursday, found there was a “general lack of documentation” by the city’s Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (REIB) department related to Queen City’s 2022 Juneteenth event, including a “lack of a budget and lack of detailed planning information.”

“We found no evidence of embezzlement or theft, nor could we conclude that fraud had been committed with respect to Juneteenth 2022,” the report reads. “However, there does appear to have been mismanagement or carelessness prior to Juneteenth 2022.”

Tyeastia Green, the former head of Burlington’s REIB department, in a phone interview on Friday, said she’d left her job in Burlington months before the 2022 Juneteenth event and wasn’t involved in its planning.

“What I think is really unfortunate is that the mismanagement of the event is being attributed to me,” Green said. “I literally was not there.”

Green said while she’d spearheaded Burlington’s first Juneteenth celebration in 2021, another city staffer was in charge of organizing the 2022 event.

“All of this money that I used, which most of it was fundraised, I dispersed to the Black community,” she said. “And I think that that is very powerful. But also, it comes with a higher level of scrutiny — and that's unfortunate.”

In a written statement, a spokesperson for Mayor Miro Weinberger said the report found “clear violations of multiple city policies.”

“If the employees who made these errors were still city employees we would be considering serious sanctions for those employees,” said Samantha Sheehan, Weinberger’s communications director, in a written statement.

The report largely focused on the budget for the 2022 Juneteenth celebration, which ended up totaling more than $400,000. The city initially budgeted $180,000 for the event with private donations and sponsorships expected to cover the rest. But only about $103,000 came in as private donations and the city ended up paying $131,000 to cover the difference. According to the report, Green said she'd secured between $200,000 and $300,000 in donation commitments before she left the office in March 2022.

"We did not find anything in our searches that substantiated commitments of $200,000 to $300,000 from private donors for Juneteenth 2022 had been made or could be expected,” the report said.

Green said during her final weeks on the job she was trying to get the events coordinator connections to finish fundraising for the Juneteenth celebration.

"I never promised anyone that I had $200,000 or I had $300,000 — that was never a promise that I made," she said.

Mayor Miro Weinberger ordered the review in mid-March after Green resigned as director of Minneapolis’s REIB department following allegations of financial mismanagement. Minneapolis city officials launched an investigation into an event Green had organized during her tenure there. That review found most of the funds for an event, which was meant to promote local Black businesses, went to companies from outside the state, and concluded there wasn’t a detailed plan for the event, according to the report released in late June.

Green, who was interviewed as part of Burlington's review, said she didn’t see the final report until a journalist sent it to her on Thursday.

“I expected Miro to be a bigger man and to come out and say that I was exonerated,” Green said.

In a written statement, Sheehan defended the city’s actions.

"Once again Tyeastia is responding to public concern about her professional work by making personal accusations against others,” Sheehan said. "Following the events in Minneapolis, it would have been professional malfeasance for Burlington not to commission this financial review.”

Some members of Burlington’s City Council disagree with the administration’s decision to investigate Green.

“This is a dirty, dirty situation on the part of the administration,” city councilor Melo Grant, a progressive, said Friday. "He was told how the Black community was hurt by the treatment of Tyeastia Green, and he doesn't care."

The report offered recommendations to the city to avoid future “fraud, waste and abuse,” particularly around the city’s conflict of interest policies. City employees involved in decision-making for independent contractor bids are currently required to disclose familial relationships with potential contractors. The report says employees should have to disclose any type of personal friendship “or anything else that could be perceived as impacting their decision.”

It also recommends the city establish a policy around which expenses the city will cover for vendors who travel to Burlington from another town or state.

Other questions, comments or tips? Send me an email at


Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
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