POCC People of color in Crisis - Misappropiation of Funds POCC Agency

Posted on Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 at 8:42pm CDT by 86360ff0

Company: POCC People of color in Crisis

Location: Brooklyn, NY, 112, US

URL: http://POCC.org/

Category: Other

Terence Dixon" <[email protected]>View contact details To: [email protected] AIDS AGENCY FAILS HIV FUNDRAISER

by TL Dixon

NEW YORK Talk about bad timing. With just two weeks left before an AIDS fundraiser takes place, Brooklyn-based organization PEOPLE OF COLOR IN CRISIS (POCC) has reneged on its obligations as a major sponsor of the event. THE GREATEST BALL ON EARTH (TGBOE), scheduled for August 2, 2008, is a history project based on Harlems legendary drag balls and a fundraiser for Harlem United Community AIDS Center, House of Blahnik Scholarship Fund and POCC itself. TGBOEs producer, Terrence Legend, now has to front the benefit with his own personal funds and contributions from the public.

POCC gave no prior indication that it could not fulfill its responsibilities. In October 2007, POCC agreed to be a major financer of THE GREATEST BALL ON EARTH. POCC was to pay TGBOE the amount of $8450 for category sponsorships, trophies, security, special awards, DJ, interns and a commentator. POCC was to provide $2500 to participants taking part in TGBOEs competition segment. Michael Roberson, executive director of POCC, orchestrated TGBOEs sponsorship package. Plans included for TGBOE to be part of an elaborate promotion deal, which included exposure at POCCs highly anticipated free ball in June, as well as being deemed an official event for PRIDE IN THE CITY (PITC), a POCC-produced cultural celebration and HIV testing initiative from July 31 August 3.

Ive been advertising for eight months and hundreds of people that POCC service is attending THE GREATEST BALL ON EARTH, says Legend. This really affects the people in New York City living with HIV and AIDS. POCC has essentially destroyed the image and reputation of this event and has breached the trust of the constituents the agency was established to service. My benefactors could have really benefited from the money I have to now pay out because of POCCs actions.

TGBOE was originally slated for April 19, but POCC had bigger plans for the fundraiser. This past February, Mr. Roberson convinced Mr. Legend to move TGBOE to August 2 to coincide with PITC. Mr. Roberson instructed me to re-brand TGBOEs Web page and supporting collateral materials announcing POCCs sponsorship and TGBOEs official PITC status. But he also told me that TGBOE was being better promoted than his free POCC ball. I thought it was a compliment, says Legend. Yet, there was never any TGBOE advertisement on POCC or PITCs Web sites. Then the agencys ball and PITC were abruptly cancelled.

Mr. Legend says the most disturbing factor is how POCC waited until July to turn its back on TGBOE when the agency knew it was having problems well before this time. In the latter part of April, rumors began to surface on popular Internet sites and in industry circles about POCC being under federal investigation for gross mismanagement, misappropriation of funds and abuse of power. The allegations were pretty cautionary: POCC did not offer any of the HIV/AIDS prevention services the agency was created for. POCCs executive director exhausted the agencys credit cards, credit line and spent federal grant money on such things as bailing personal friends out of jail. POCC, created to cater to needs of New York City residents, sponsored events in North Carolina, California and New Jersey with restricted funds. Some of the less serious charges were that Mr. Roberson used a casting couch in his office to solicit and sexually try out his employees

before he hired them. Or Mr. Roberson purchased dozens of roundtrip tickets to Los Angeles on POCCs account to visit his significant other. Shortly thereafter, POCCs board chairperson, accountant and financial advisor resigned in unison allegedly in protest over the executive directors actions. This has reportedly caused the New York State Department of Heath AIDS Institute to pull its funding from all of the citys community-based organizations.

I want Mr. Roberson and POCC to know that I aggressively defended them against these rumors, says Legend. I truly believed in the good things POCC had done, and I trusted Mr. Roberson to the fullest. I did everything in my power to honor him and the agency. Mr. Legend says he confronted Roberson about these accusations and the executive director denounced them as being untrue. At a meeting on May 8 and again in June, Mr. Roberson affirmed to Mr. Legend that POCC was still fulfilling its obligations for THE GREATEST BALL ON EARTH. However Mr. Roberson aggressively pushed for Legend to change the date of TGBOE so it can be held at a larger venue. Mr. Roberson said POCC would sponsor an additional $8000 toward a new space.

In July, Mr. Legend called Mr. Roberson to arrange their monthly meeting. Mr. Roberson told Legend he would call him back 20 minutes later. The returned phone was from a friend of Mr. Roberson whom told Legend that POCC was no longer financially supporting THE GREATEST BALL ON EARTH! Mr. Legend says hes now hearing rumors that POCC staffers are telling people not to patronize TGBOE. In essence POCC has let down the community that TGBOE benefits. I am devastated, and its a shame that a community-based organization would do this to an event that helps them out as well as the people they serve. Many people are excited about and attending TGBOE. I pray that POCC fulfills its promises but the show must go on. As of press time, POCC could not be contacted for comment.

To find how you can contribute and help save TGBOE, please contact Terrence Legend at [email protected] or www.myspace.com/thegreatestballonearth.

TL Dixon

[email protected]

212-368-2470


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