Is DC Mayor-Elect Eric Adams Paying His Dues?

Communities of colour in DC are sending a loud and clear message: we are fed up. For the second time in five days, Mayor-Elect Eric Adams has cancelled the “Wall Street Roundtable” fund-raisers that…

Is DC Mayor-Elect Eric Adams Paying His Dues?

Communities of colour in DC are sending a loud and clear message: we are fed up. For the second time in five days, Mayor-Elect Eric Adams has cancelled the “Wall Street Roundtable” fund-raisers that have been branded racist by many, and as a result many local businesses have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

When I watched Eric’s announcement from the sidelines yesterday afternoon, I was reminded of how troubled some folks still are about former Mayor Vincent Gray’s former fundraiser, Jeffrey Thompson, who also served as a fund-raiser for Mayor Adrian Fenty. Thompson gave the Gray campaign two $25,000 gifts in 2010, during the mayor’s re-election campaign.

Earlier this year, Gray was accused of violating the city’s Open Meeting law by failing to share information during a closed meeting that involved the use of his campaign’s voter file to target black voters. Gray later apologized and was cleared. And as you will recall, a campaign paid six figures for the lawyers to handle the controversy.

The Gray fund-raiser affair upset many residents of the city’s black neighborhoods. For years, many in these communities, made up of the city’s poorest residents, have been contending with the loss of affordable housing, the lengthening commutes and a host of problems that go hand-in-hand with having no jobs.

Yesterday, a representative of a local hair salon told me that the office was scheduled to host the Wall Street Roundtable on Friday, but was informed by the Mayor-Elect that he was not going to attend the event. The salon owner told me that she had about $1,000 to $2,000 in charitable donations on the line. She was hoping the event would give her the funds she needed to upgrade her salon. “It’s not so much the money, it’s the opportunity to expand my business. And, I didn’t want to compete against some of the other local businesses that were going to be there.”

So, if you were looking for a positive message of progress from DC’s mayor-elect, think again. On Thursday, other black businesses have said they lost money after Mayor-Elect Adams canceled a planned fund-raiser for a local architectural firm. According to the Washington Post, more than $50,000 in contributions were slated to go to the Greater DC Architectural Architects Association for a joint exhibit of black architecture displayed at the National Museum of African Art in Washington. The exhibit, which was sponsored by the Art District Partnership, an organization that promotes the arts in the area, had hoped to raise $100,000 for the exhibit. The exhibit was to include works of more than 25 artists from across the country.

“We lost about $25,000. We will probably lose another $40,000,” said Cheryl Zacher, the president of the Association, told the Post. “For this amount of money we were supposed to be able to acquire some computer equipment, some lights, some projectors, and also power for the projector and the lights.” Zacher had been told by Mayor-Elect Adams’ office to cancel the fund-raiser on Tuesday, but the offer was retracted on Thursday.

According to the Post, however, Mayor-Elect Adams’ office told the association that he had canceled the event because he was short $20,000 in donations, which is where the feud with the association is thought to have started.

While the Mayor-Elect’s office has been putting a lot of effort into making sure communities of color are included in his agenda and advancing the reforms and initiatives that affect their issues, some still have problems with such activity. We could be forgiven for thinking this is a double standard when in fact there is a reason to support Eric Adams when it comes to helping communities of color, but when it comes to the issues that affect them, their race, place of origin and socio-economic status, he may want to think twice.

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