Less than an hour after Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall announced the hiring of a new police chief, who is white, a coalition of black politicians and community leaders criticized Neall's record in hiring and promoting minorities, calling it "Annpartheid."
The Black Political Forum, a bi-partisan group, yesterday released a critical report on the county executive's first 100 days in office titled, "Bobby Neall's Days Has Lighthizer and Pascal's Ways."
The forum's 14-page report accuses Neall of continuing in the tradition of former county executives Robert A. Pascal and O. James Lighthizer by excluding blacks from leadership positions and continuing to maintain "virtually an all-white, male-dominated power structure."
"We at the Black Political Forum feel compelled to take a stand, to challenge those in the government . . . to work toward change," said Matthew Thomas, former chairman of the forum. "Things can no longer be business as usual."
Thomas said many look at affirmative-action programs as "less than desirable" and he too would like to see a day when they are not needed. However, affirmative action has been the only way to guarantee blacks inclusion, he said.
The report says that county government has developed an "Annpartheid system that is exclusionary" to minorities.
Lewis Bracy, president of Blacks for Success, an organization to promote black business, said Neall promised during his run for office that women and minorities would be represented in his Cabinet.
"We haven't forgotten," Bracy said. "We want to see an African-American in a significant, policy-making role, not just a 00 token."
In announcing the appointment of former Deputy Chief Robert P. Russell to chief of police yesterday, Neall said both a female and minority candidate had been interviewed for the position but Russell was found to be the most qualified.
"I will make progress" in hiring minorities, Neall said. "There's a lot of room for improvement."
Annapolis Alderman Carl O. Snowden said, "There is a pyramid of racism and sexism that must cease. The top of the pyramid gets whiter, and more male."
Of the county's 3,000 employees, 14 percent are minorities and most are in non-skilled positions, Snowden said.
While Thomas said the report was not meant to be confrontational, Kenneth L. Webster, a former state delegate who served with Neall when he was in the House of Representatives, disagreed.
"It's time for us to be heard," Webster said. "This report is critical. I served with Bobby Neall in the General Assembly and I am appalled."
Webster said the group did not approach Neall with its criticisms because the county executive had ample time to appoint a minority. "Going to him would be like going to the Ku Klux Klan and asking them to draw up civil rights legislation," he said.
Neall said he had hired only three new department heads so far. The remaining department heads were retained from the Lighthizer administration.