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Weinberger addresses departure of racial equity director

Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger is weighing in on Channel 3for the first time on the departure of the city’s diversity director.

Tyeastia Green resigned as director of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in February and has since taken a similar job in Minneapolis. Green has not publicly explained her resignation, and until Wednesday the mayor had not shared his views on her departure.

Weinberger says he was disappointed when Green told him she was leaving her post. Green was hired two years ago to help the city address systemic racism in the community. Her department grew to more than a dozen people with a nearly $1 million budget. The department launched the city’s first Juneteenth celebration, conducted diversity training for city staff, and supported the growth of minority-owned businesses.

But Weinberger says they didn’t always see eye to eye on all decisions. “Of course we didn’t always agree 100% on everything. Whenever that happened, I tried to work through it with her and I was committed and eager to do that right up until the end. She, at a certain point, decided she wanted to return to Minneapolis and that was better for her future and that’s what she’s done,” Weinberger said.

People in the BIPOC community have blamed the mayor for Green’s departure, saying Weinberger never fully supported her or the goals of the REIB office. After news of her departure, City Councilor Ali Dieng, I-Ward 7, in a statement said that Weinberger had used Green and the creation of the REIB as a political prop.

“I am deeply disappointed that Dr. Green was not more supported by the Mayor’s office and decided to leave. Her work was critical to moving Burlington forward towards racial justice,” Dieng said.

Others in the BIPOC community have expressed frustration over the loss of Green, saying her department was not supported financially and criticizing the mayor’s decision to remove Green from oversight of an outside police assessment, a decision he later reversed.

Weinberger refutes the criticism and says he remains committed to rebuilding the racial equity department -- which has seen additional departures in the past month. The mayor talked about his plans in his State of the City address this week. “With these resources and a rebuilt team, we will continue to reshape the municipal government of Burlington as an anti-racist organization, invest and innovate to eliminate the racial disparities in homeownership rates, and mount a sustained, multi-partner effort to eradicate racial disparities across the social determinants of health,” Weinberger said.

As part of Green’s negotiated separation agreement, the city agreed to pay the remainder of her contract -- about $20,000.

Green on Wednesday declined to comment about her departure from the city of Burlington.

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