Dallas Press Club contemplates cancelling 2007 awards, as it restores credibility

DALLAS: The Dallas Press Club will likely be cancelling its prestigious Katie Awards ceremony this year as it seeks to rebuild trust in the wake of a former president's alleged fraudulent activities.

DALLAS: The Dallas Press Club will likely be cancelling its prestigious Katie Awards ceremony this year as it seeks to rebuild trust in the wake of a former president's alleged fraudulent activities.

Last month, a Dallas Morning News investigation revealed that former DPC head Elizabeth Albanese had allegedly mismanaged club funds, and possibly awarded herself a slew of Katie Awards fictitiously, without any judges actually grading the entries.

Now, current DPC president Tom Stewart said, the club will probably not hold awards in 2007, instead seeking to resurrect them in 2008, which would be the Katies' 50th anniversary.

The DPC's own investigation shows that the 2006 and 2005 Katies "were not properly judged," according to Stewart, and the 2004 awards were still not definitively cleared. Previous years were proper, he said.

The DPC also filed a civil lawsuit against Albanese earlier this month. The suit's ultimate timeline is still unknown, Stewart said.

A number of groups have asked to have the entry fees they paid to the Katies returned. Stewart put the total amount sought at close to $5,000, and said that the club will "endeavor to return their funds."

Rand LaVonn, president of the Press Club of Dallas Foundation, a separate organization, said the foundation is "doing everything possible to bring back the Katie Awards in a system that will be very transparent and have the highest integrity."

Stewart acknowledged that the credibility of the awards has "essentially been destroyed," and said the club is suspending its normal activities for the next three months in order to "rethink" its goals and to form a strategic plan moving forward.

A lawyer, reported by multiple media sources to represent Albanese, did not return calls for comment by press time.

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