Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

African American Leadership Council loses most of funding

Founded in 1990, the African American Leadership Council provides social and youth programs in the North Greenwood community from the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center at 1201 Douglas Ave.


Founded in 1990, the African American Leadership Council provides social and youth programs in the North Greenwood community from the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center at 1201 Douglas Ave.

CLEARWATER — Concerned about the financial management of one of North Greenwood's most popular social and youth programs, the government agency providing most of the money has pulled its funding.

Pinellas Core Management Services, an arm of the county's Juvenile Welfare Board that oversees smaller agencies receiving funding, made the decision after a recent review of the records of the African American Leadership Council.

In a letter Friday to AALC executive director Bilal Habeeb-ullah, Paul Lackey of PCMS wrote: "Based on the recent review of AALC financial records for calendar year 2007 by an independent auditor, PCMS is acting to protect its interests regarding financial accountability to program funders."

The AALC's funding will end Sept. 21.

"We want to find a way to keep the programming in the community," Lackey said.

Habeeb-ullah referred questions to Cory Person, the Tampa attorney representing the AALC. Person said the organization is fully cooperating and is confident that no intentional wrongdoing will be found.

Founded in 1990, the AALC has been an integral part of the North Greenwood community. Located at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center on Douglas Avenue, it's a place where neighborhood children spend time after school in computer labs and in the gym.

During 2007, $494,536 of AALC's $875,575 in revenue came from the welfare board. Clearwater chipped in $100,000 and allows AALC to manage the programming at the Douglas Avenue location. The Eckerd Foundation added $80,000.

Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne said the city would review the welfare board's findings to get a clearer picture and to examine the financial management of AALC and its programs.

"They have offered valuable programs to the North Greenwood community," Horne said. "We would love to see the programs continue if possible but they may have to be provided by a different provider."

Friday's letter from PCMS noted four areas of concern:

• Excluding payroll, approximately $150,000, or 64 percent of the expenses reviewed, had no documentation for payments.

• Several payments were made directly or nondirectly to AALC board members or related organizations, some without documentation.

• A check in the amount of $45,188.75 paid to AALC in December 2007 for technology lab services to PCMS was reported by AALC as lost. However, the check was cashed and cannot be tracked to any known AALC bank account.

• The annual audit for 2007 conducted for AALC by Lovett & Co. C.P.A. did not report: an existing line of credit, a second bank account opened during the year, and the lack of documentation for a significant number of financial transactions.

Muhammad Abdur-Rahim, an AALC board member, said Monday that he hasn't and doesn't know of any board member receiving payments.

"It seems to me this is a witch hunt," Abdur-Rahim said. "We've had several audits from JWB and these questions were never raised."

AALC received a clean audit from Lovett & Co. in March.

"How can you conduct an audit when you never contacted the auditor?" asked Foster Lovett of Lovett & Co. of the most recent findings by the welfare board. "We have everything they wanted and if they just would have asked us. No one ever asked us for a copy of anything. And all they had to do was ask."

Lackey said it was AALC's responsibility to contact Lovett. He said the organization was given several opportunities to show documents.

The JWB board requested a forensic audit of the AALC after Ann McDowell and Jim Jackson, two area residents, requested that the organization be looked into during the July board meeting.

The questions started with a July altercation between employees at the center. Loretta Mitchell said she was assaulted because she informed a college that a student wasn't performing work-study hours at the center despite an AALC employee's signature on time sheets to the contrary.

Lackey said the investigation didn't find anything pertaining to time sheets.

Person said the student worked the hours that were signed for and that Mitchell's accusation was untrue.

He also said Mitchell was not assaulted. "We stand by that no assault occurred at AALC," Person said.

"It's a safe place that's been providing services for children in the community for years, and when the full complexion of the investigation is completed, we are confident that it will show that AALC did nothing wrong and it can continue to be a tool for social change in the community."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 445-4174 or

African American Leadership Council loses most of funding 08/25/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 29, 2008 4:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What you need to know for Thursday, May 25


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set up an undercover operation. They created their own alligator farm, complete with plenty of real, live alligators, watched over by real, live undercover wildlife officers. It also had hidden video cameras to record everything that happened. That was two years ago, and on Wednesday wildlife officers announced that they arrested nine people on  44 felony charges alleging they broke wildlife laws governing alligator harvesting, transporting eggs and hatchlings across state lines, dealing in stolen property, falsifying records, racketeering and conspiracy. The wildlife commission released these photos of alligators, eggs and hatchlings taken during the undercover operation. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  2. Trigaux: Amid a record turnout, regional technology group spotlights successes, desire to do more


    ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.

    A record turnout event by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, held May 24 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, featured a panel of area tech executives talking about the challenges encountered during their respective mergers and acquisitions. Show, from left to right, are: Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global IT integration at Tech Data Corp.; John Kuemmel, chief information officer at Triad Retail Media, and Chris Cate, chief operating officer at Valpak. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  3. Take 2: Some fear Tampa Bay Next transportation plan is TBX redux


    TAMPA — For many, Wednesday's regional transportation meeting was a dose of deja vu.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its controversial Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. But the plan remains the same: spend $60 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area interstates that are currently free of tolls. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  4. Hailed as 'pioneers,' students from St. Petersburg High's first IB class return 30 years later


    ST. PETERSBURG — The students came from all over Pinellas County, some enduring hot bus rides to a school far from home. At first, they barely knew what to call themselves. All they knew was that they were in for a challenge.

    Class of 1987 alumni Devin Brown, from left, and D.J. Wagner, world history teacher Samuel Davis and 1987 graduate Milford Chavous chat at their table.
  5. Flower boxes on Fort Harrison in Clearwater to go, traffic pattern to stay


    I travel Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater often and I've noticed that the travel lanes have been rerouted to allow for what looks like flower boxes that have been painted by children. There are also a few spaces that push the travel lane to the center that have no boxes. Is this a permanent travel lane now? It …