Box 3, Folder 17, Document 44

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Staff Photo—Charles Jackson
Jim Parham ©

KOA Worthwhile,
Says Retiring Head

Continued from Page 1-A

Vietnam. EOA took a $400,000
slash in 1968. And there was al-
ways the problem of finding
enough skilled manpower to do
the jobs required in the massive
training, counseling and servic-
ing programs.

Despite all this, EOA has
racked up some successes and
has been considered among the
more progressive anti-poverty
agencies in the country.


“It took me about a year to
start getting the signals and
learn what to do” when conflict-
ing policy guides were issued,
Parham said. So Parham just
did what he thought was best in
administrating about 20 pro-

grams ranging from a small
($10,000) special food distribu-
tion program to a large ($4 mil-
lion) training and employment

Twenty-five to 30 parent-child
care centers were funded and
Atlanta became to the first city
in the nation to open such a cen-

EOA attracted 602 non-paid
middle-class volunteer workers
to help in the battle against
being poor. And EOA initiated
its ‘Find Out” tours of Atlanta’s
poverty pockets. Some 4,000 per-
sons have taken the tours, that
were begun in January, Parham
said. He views the tours and the
volunteer program as among
EOA’s more successful ven-
EOA also embarked on ambi-
tious training programs, but ran

' into a-common bureaucratic ail-

ment, according to Parham.

There was always pressure
from above, from Congress and

elsewhere to make a good re-|

cord; therefore, there was al-

_ Ways pressure to train those}.
who would best fit into a work |”

situation—and not the high risk
hard-core impoverished persons
who might make the programs
look bad on paper.

Despite some of his criticisms,
Parham said he believed that
EOA has filled a community
need and has fared better under
the Nixon administration than

he had expected. Parham, who |,

will join the staff of the Univer-
sity of Georgia Law and Govern-
ment Institutes, also said he saw

‘no real threat to the anti-pov-

erty programs in the adminis-
tration’s removal of certain proj-
ects from OKO.

“ROA — or OHO — should be
an incubator for ideas. I know of
no reason that any given pro-
gram should remain with OFO
after its inception,” Parham

;| said.


KOA Worthy,

Parham Holds


Before he was to step down Wednesday as executive admin-
istrator of Economic Opportunity Atlanta, Thomas M. (Jim)

War on Poverty.

“It was like trying to build a
sailing ship and sail it around
the world while you were build-
ing it,” he said. Or, “It was like
eee down the razor’s edge of

The program was hindered by
ambiguity in its missions, at
times hamstrung by erratic
funding and sometimes almost
crippled by a lack of necessary
skills, Parham said.

But all things considered, Par-
ham said he believes the pro-
gram has been worth the trou-
bles—and the money. EOA is
currently operating on a $12 mil-
lion annual budget with a staff
of 500 persons. Parham got a
salary of $20,000 a year.

Parham emphasized he didn’t
want to appear to be-leaving
EOA with a blast of criticism,
“Atlanta will never be the same
because of EOA,” he says.

But there were some tall prob-
lems to try to solve—problems
that for the most part will be in-
herited by his successor, Wil-
liam W. Allison, who was Par-
ham's deputy administrator.

Parham té!ked about some of
those preblems:

Policy dispensed by Office of
Economic Opportunity head-
quarters was often vague, con-
tradictory and sometimes non-
existent. It took OEO until the
fall of 1968 to set down on paper
just what its mission was, al-

‘though OEO came into being

more than three years earlier,
Parham said.
—~'We ‘ere told on the one hand
to cooperate with existing gov-
ernmental agencies, and, on the
other, to work to change those
agencies,’ Parham said. “We
found it was a little difficult to
develop cooperation with some-
body when you’re trying to put
the needle to hirn at the same
time. 5

“We were told to spend wisely

,Parham looked back at his 22 months as a local general in the

and be efficient, and we were
told to use idigencus unskilled
personnel whenever possible.
We were told to plan scientifi-
cally and deliberately, but move
in fast and take quick decisive
action; we were told to advocate
strongly for the poor but don’t,
become politically partisan,’’
Parham said,

A big headache was trying to
put together a program and im-
plementing it at the same time.
“Tt was like to trying to build a
sailing ship and sail it around
the world while you were build-
ing it,”’ he said.

While juggling and trying to
reconcile all the contradictions.
there was always something
else to contend with. “You had
to be liberal enough to be ac-
cepted in the poor communities,
yet conservative enough so that
you could. work with the Estab-
lishment,” Parham said. “It
was like sliding down the razor’s
edge of life.”

-One would think this might be
more than enough to stymie any
program—especially one so
complex and all-encompassing
as the anti-poverty program.

But these weren't the only
troubles. Congress slashed the
budget for helping the poor in
the United States so that the
country could finance the war in

Continued on Page 8-A, Col. 3

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