The City of Carmel has moved its diversity training program in-house after city officials learned of two social media posts associated with Favorite Part of My Day, the contractor selected in April to perform the training, that they found troubling.
In one post, Favorite Part of My Day’s Facebook account shared a tweet by the organization’s founder, Cassandra Porter, that stated, “Giving White people the benefit of the doubt is the most deadly tool of #WhiteSupremacy.” The other post, shared publicly on Porter’s personal account, is a photo showing a man surrounded by a Nazi, Confederate and Back the Blue (law enforcement support) flags with a caption that states the flags all stand for “white supremacy through violence if necessary.” Porter added in her own post that she believes Trump 2020 and MAGA flags also symbolize the same thing.
“Basically, she was calling our community white supremacists,” said City Council President Sue Finkam, a sponsor of the April ordinance allocating funds for diversity training. “That’s not acceptable, and there was no way we could associate ourselves with that organization, which is disappointing, because to my understanding she has a strong background in this space, but that doesn’t align with how we want to be represented in our community.”
Porter, who said she’s received threats regarding her work in Hamilton County, said that Favorite Part of My Day agreed to terminate the contract because “the City of Carmel was not boldly standing behind the project.” When shown the social media posts city officials found troubling, Porter said she asked how many other contractors that work with the city have their social media feeds searched and critiqued.
“(The city’s representative) had no response but to demand that I delete the posts and retract my statement,” Porter said. “My comment back was, ‘If you can’t be supportive of DEI work in the face of (adversity), Favorite Part of My Day is not the firm to do this work with the city.’”
The posts have since been removed from public Facebook feeds.
Finkam said a city employee alerted her of the social media posts and that she was “disappointed these weren’t spotted earlier by the city’s due diligence process.” She said the posts were “very upsetting to many of our employees.”
“(With the tweet) she alienated 80 percent of our population here, and with the other one she alienated a quarter of our workforce,” Finkam said. “Between the two there was no coming back from that, so we agreed to end the contract and take what we had done and move along.”
The contract between the city and Favorite Part of My Day was terminated in June. Carmel paid $43,000 to Favorite Part of My Day for work it had already done. The city council in April had allocated $130,000 for diversity training.
After cutting ties with Favorite Part of My Day, city officials determined one of the city’s newest employees would be a good fit to develop a diversity program and run the training sessions. Timothy Knight, a former sergeant with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Dept., had recently joined the City of Carmel’s human resources department to coordinate employee development, and Finkam said Human Resources Director Barb Lamb realized he had the credentials and experience to develop and lead the training.
With the added responsibilities, Knight is proposed to receive a new title and a raise. The 2022 budget, which has not yet been approved by the city council, includes increasing Knight’s salary from $68,000 to $82,000 a year and changing his title from employee development coordinator to employee development and equity manager.
“He showed up here at a time when our needs are changing and growing,” Lamb told the city council Sept. 16. “(He is) the person to step in and do the things we want. He was in the right place at the right time for us.”
Finkam agreed that Knight is a good fit to conduct Carmel’s diversity training.
“We feel like we get a better program from someone who knows our employees better by being an employee, and we save some money as well,” she said.