Two events scheduled in the District this month as part of an anti-poverty conference were canceled at the last minute as the result of disagreements within the citizen's group apparently sponsoring the conference.
The planned events, endorsed by Mayor Marion Barry's office, probably will be put off until the Metropolitan Citizens Advisory Council (MCAC) is able to obtain funds for the program.
MCAC officials were at odds over the handling of the proposed conference.
A banquet scheduled at the Sheraton Washington Hotel last Friday night -- at which awards were to have been presented to representatives of Barry, wounded Urban League President Vernon Jordan and NAACP Director Benjamin Hooks -- was conceled Friday afternoon by the hotel management after discovering that no funding had been authorized for the $8,000 dinner.
Two days of workshops designed to assess the impact of poverty programs in the Washington area were also postponed at the last minute because money was not authorized in time to feed poor people invited to the sessions.
Conference chairman Agnes Kendrick said other conference programs will probably not be held until next year. So far, only a parade kicking off the city's "War on Poverty Month" was held according to schedule in late May.
Plans have been under way for the poverty conference since last fall, Kendrick said.At that time, she added, she was given permission from MCAC officers to develop the conference.
Since then, she said, the program committee she heads has been at loggerheads with the MCAC executive board and UPO officials over funding for the conference. She said her committee requested $10,000 for the conference last fall when UPO was drawing up its budget for the fiscal year, but the request was never acted on by MCAC or UPO officials.
MCAC is a citizens group set up to advise the federally funded UPO on $20 million worth of social service programs UPO administers in the Washington area, including the Manpower and CETA programs.
Both Kendrick and fellow committee member, Frank Holloman charged that MCAC and UPO officials ignored their request because, as Holloman put it, "they want control" of MCAC functions.
But MCAC chairman Paul Pratt said that a formal request for money for the conference was not made by Kendrick's committee until June 10, three days before the scheduled banquet and after the workshops were to have been held.
The executive board of the MCAC, which has no budget of its own, unanimously voted to approve the request the same day, Pratt said, and sent it to UPO wednesday morning.
"She was given a free hand in developing a concept and bringing it back before the (MCAC) board," Pratt said last week. Originally, it was to have been a report to the community. All of a sudden it turned out to be an awards dinner for people who really do nothing for our community."
Pratt said MCAC board members had asked that locally active social service volunteers be given awards instead of national leaders. But he maintained the MCAC board had not received adequate information or accounting for Kendrick's spending proposals.
"I'm for the program, but I've got to know what's going on," Pratt said. "She's (Kendrick) done a tremendous job, but she didn't go about it properly."
Frank Hollis, UPO deputy executive director, denied his organization was involved at all in MCAC's problems. "We were generally informed of some concept for putting on a program late last year," he said. "The next thing we knew was Wednesday, when we were asked for $10,000. If there was a struggle, it wasn't between UPO and MCAC. It was within MCAC."
Since UPO's board of directors, which would have had to approve the spending request, does not meet until June 23 and had little information about the project, the money could not have been authorized in time, Hollis said. In addition, he said, since most of UPO's money has already been budgeted for specific programs, "UPO would have to scrape the bottom of its coffers if the board were to decide to do that."
D.C. Community Services director Hans Larsen, who was to appear at the Friday banquet for Barry, said the city had "basically sanctioned" the program after his office was approached by Kendrick. "But we're not involved in the political aspects of who was paying for it or who was officially sanctioning it," he said.
"It sounded like a good program," he added.
Kendrick said that award recipients invited to the dinner, as well as scheduled speaker James Farmer, who founded the Congress for Racial Equality, had been contacted before Friday night. She also said money collected from the sale of $35 tickets for the banquet was being returned.
Kendrick said her group still intends to issue a report to the community, but will probably not try to hold the rest of the events they planned until 1981.
Elections of MCAC officers are to be held at an MCAC board meeting June 25. Kendrick declared her faction will try to unseat Pratt at that time, while Pratt announced his intention to call for Kendrick's resignation then.