Audit: Portland skipped safeguards to get virus grants out

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A city audit has found that Portland failed to create a fair and transparent grant selection process, interpreted eligibility criteria loosely and didn’t protect against misuse of funds in haste to get pandemic relief money to small businesses. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports those are the findings of a city audit released Wednesday that evaluated the success of Prosper Portland’s Small Business Relief Fund. The fund provided $12.4 million in city and federal dollars to 1,209 small businesses. Prosper Portland executive director Kimberly Branam and Mayor Ted Wheeler defended the grant process in a letter but acknowledged the agency could learn from the rollout to better respond to future economic emergencies.