The Spokane City Council intends to give Cupid Alexander a public exit interview

click to enlarge The Spokane City Council intends to give Cupid Alexander a public exit interview
City of Austin's website
Cupid Alexander, in the photo the City of Austin shared in a press release.

When Neighborhoods, Housing and Human Services Director Cupid Alexander announced his resignation from the city of Spokane last month, he forwarded a trove of incendiary emails to the City Council.
They accused city administrator Johnnie Perkins of racism and also alleged deep dysfunction inside City Hall.

But after the mayor announced an investigation into Alexander's allegations, the city administration cited the forthcoming investigation as a rationale to not grant interviews about the concerns he raised.

And public records? Thanks to changes in records law from the Washington Legislature, the Spokane City Clerk's office has announced that all records that the investigation could touch on will be reviewed, and potentially withheld until the investigation is complete.

Ironically, an investigation theoretically meant to provide accountability could also be delaying it. As the Woodward administration continues to develop its homeless policies and figure out how to fix a troubled Community, Housing and Human Services (CHHS) department, that delay could have consequences.

Yet, according to City Councilwoman Lori Kinnear, in the forthcoming weeks Spokane may get more insight into Alexander's insights from a key source: Alexander himself. 

"We're trying to set up an exit interview with Cupid," Kinnear says. "That'll be public."

Kinnear says Alexander has already agreed to doing the public exit interview.

Since, thus far Alexander hasn't provided a full interview to any local media outlets, his comments could be revelatory. But Kinnear says that the focus isn't going to about his clash with Perkins, but about his views on the city's approach to homelessness and what could be improved about the Community, Housing and Human Services department.
"We're going to ask him not about the way he was treated as much as about what needed to happen in that department to make it functional, and what are we missing?" Kinnear says. "How do we need to go forward now?"

That's particularly vital in this moment of homelessness and housing crisis, says City Council President Breean Beggs.

"We're in crisis. We had someone who everyone agrees has very good subject-matter expertise," Beggs says. "We're trying to get as much information out of him as we can from his expertise... It's not going to be about the mayor and the city administrator."

With the city administration declining to make CHHS staff available to answer questions in some instances, Beggs suggests that this may be a better way to get answers.

Kinnear says that Alexander will get the questions in writing ahead of time.

"If there's something he's uncomfortable answering, he doesn't have to," Kinnear says.

The council doesn't have Alexander's exit interview officially scheduled but hopes to hold it soon, possibly during a future council study session.

"He's got a new job now," Kinnear says. "I want to get him before he gets too busy."

Starting next month, Alexander will take a new role overseeing programs related to "inclusive planning and displacement prevention initiatives" in the city of Austin, Texas's, Housing and Planning Department.

The council has made a similar offer for a public exit interview to Amber Richards, the Human Resources director who officially resigned last week.

"I know she has offered to speak with council members who are interested" in why she left, Beggs says, but doesn't know if she'll agree to a public interview. 

As for the investigation into Alexander's accusations against Perkins, Councilmembers Kinnear, Karen Stratton, and Betsy Wilkerson sent a letter last month to the mayor, urging her to ensure the investigation was truly independent and that everything be released when the investigation concludes, including transcripts of the investigator's interviews.

And instead of suggesting that discussing the content of the ongoing investigation would compromise its integrity, the councilmembers argued that they had a public duty to talk about it.

"We should not avoid public conversations about investigations concerning allegations like this," the councilmembers wrote. "Rather, we should embrace the opportunity to increase public trust and transparency, rather than hide from it." 

Dreamworks Animation: The Exhibition — Journey From Sketch to Screen @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 11
  • or

About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, Daniel Walters is the Inlander's senior investigative reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...