Two administrators and a trustee of the University of the District of Columbia traded charges yesterday about the expenditure of more than $70,000 to furnish the university residence in 1982.
Ann O. Hughes, director of the UDC office of development, accused trustee Daniel I. Fivel of harboring "vendettas of idiosyncratic and murky origin" and defended herself and George W. Brown, associate director of the office, against charges made earlier by Fivel that they went on a "spending spree" and kept "sloppy" records.
Fivel repeated the charge yesterday at a public hearing held by the D.C. City Council's Education Committee and characterized the purchasing of the furniture as an example of UDC administrators bypassing the board of trustees on significant expenditures.
"The circumvention of board authority in connection with the furniture acquisition in 1982 was a serious abuse which . . . may have provided the precedent for those recent overrides which have caused us so much grief," Fivel said.
In two previous public hearings, the board was sharply criticized by Council member and committee chairwoman Hilda Mason (Statehood-At Large) and others for not maintaining adequate oversight of spending by administrators at the university.
Former UDC president Robert L. Green resigned Aug. 23 after audits showed he had misspent funds for consultants, travel and personal items.
Five trustees attended yesterday's meeting: Fivel, Joseph Webb, Virginia Howard, F.D.R. Fox and Concha Johnson.
The controversy over the purchase of furnishings for the university residence centered on the decision to set aside $65,000 of university funds for the purpose. Fivel asserted that former board chairman Marjorie Parker devised a way to do so that would bypass the board because, Fivel said, "she knew the board would not approve."
Parker was not available for comment.
The plan, according to Fivel, called for $65,000 from the university's postsecondary education account, which is composed of donations and university fees, to be loaned to the UDC Fund Inc., a separate fund-raising foundation.
The UDC Fund was then to coordinate the expenditure of the $65,000 through the development office, whose staff members routinely assist the UDC Fund. The plan envisioned the UDC Fund raising $65,000 to repay the loan.
However, the loan of the money was never approved by the board, according to the development office administrators and Fivel. Fivel further stated the proposal was not even submitted to the board.
Instead, the three said in testimony, a $65,000 account was created within the postsecondary fund and used to provide funds for the furniture, again with no participation by the board.
Between July and December 1982, Brown was given responsibility for buying the furnishings for the residence, which was occupied in August of that year by UDC's then-president Benjamin Alexander.
He estimated he overspent the $65,000 by $7,000, although Fivel said the excess was $10,000.
Brown defended the purchase of more than $70,000 worth of furniture, saying Alexander and others ordered him to furnish the house quickly because of upcoming visits by dignitaries.
Brown said that in addition to buying furnishings, he did housework to prepare the residence on Rittenhouse Street NW.
"I made the bed," he said. "I did things in that house that I don't do at my own home."