WITH THE closing of Youth Pride Inc., a group that offered job training to poor young people in the District, there has come the remorseful claim that Pride's demise is part of the changing political tide in the nation. Mayor Marion Barry, for one, in a news conference this week, said Pride's closing was a signal of what will happen in the future as President Reagan cuts the federal budget. He added that the program, which he had had a hand in starting, has been a "positive force in this community. Thousands of youth have been helped by Youth Pride. . . ."
Not to speak ill of the dead--but despite what is being said in the eulogies, Pride was not killed by President Reagan or by any local official or by regressive public attitudes. Pride was the victim of its own officials who brought on it various investigat ions of the alleged misuse of government money. It is alleged that Mary Treadwell, Pride's executive director, and other Pride officials misappropriated over a half-million dollars. These allegations eventually led federal government officials to investigate Youth Pride. Consequently, the U.S. Labor Department cut off federal funds and the city's own Employment Services department, auditing Youth Pride, found about $40,000 in questionable expenses.
Those troubles, which led to Pride's fall, were of its own making. Society should no more feel guilty about some change in values that killed off Pride than Pride's failings should be seen as proof of the fruitlessness of Great Society social programs. Mary Treadwell argues that her group was also the victim of scandal-mongering reporters and this newspaper, which published stories about the suspect activities. She is pointing a finger at everyone but herself.
The downfall of Pride should not be generalized into anything more than a sad ending to an enterprise that was created to help unemployed young people learn skills and get work. To connect Pride's troubles with the president's budget cuts is wrong. Pride's own officials played the leading roles in its collapse.