King fund-raising event in Annapolis formalized Former alderman plans tighter controls

December 12, 1997|By Neal Thompson | Neal Thompson,SUN STAFF

Former Annapolis Alderman Carl O. Snowden has instituted tighter controls over the money raised at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner in response to articles in The Sun raising questions about the handling of the dinner's proceeds.

Snowden announced this week that the 10th annual dinner will be held Jan. 13. Awards will be given to seven local human rights leaders. Ilyasah Shabazz, one of the six daughters of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, will be the keynote speaker at the dinner.

In an interview yesterday, Snowden said significant changes have been made this year based on recommendations from an accounting firm hired to regulate the dinner's finances.

Those changes include disclosure of all funds raised at the dinner and a more formal process for donating the money. A bank account has been established for the funds, under a new organizational name, the 10th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner Committee. Also next month, the dinner will be run by six co-sponsors, including the Community Action Agency and the NAACP.

In years past, the dinner had been run by an ad-hoc committee consisting of Snowden's friends, including some campaign donors.

"This year, it's a little more formal," Snowden said.

Snowden said the new organization -- which he chairs -- and the tighter financial controls should remove any questions about the legitimacy of the dinner, which draws about 400 people in commemoration of the birthday of the slain civil rights leader.

"We have put it behind us," he said of the controversy, which he blamed on efforts by political opponents to harm his candidacy for the mayor's office.

Articles in May and June detailed how Snowden's dinner committee had not registered as a charitable organization and had never disclosed how much money was raised at the dinner, where the money was kept and how much was donated.

The secretary of state's office found that Snowden had not violated any law and was not required to register as a charitable organization because the dinner was not promoted as a charity event.

The dinner will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 13 at Buddy's Late Night on Hudson Street in Annapolis. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

Pub Date: 12/12/97

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