No one can deny that over the past decade, James R. Pennington brought racial issues to the table in Baltimore County. But in doing so, he'd sometimes knock the table to splinters.
The NAACP recently suspended Mr. Pennington from holding office for the next two years, following his 14-year tenure as head of its Baltimore County branch. It found him guilty of 13 infractions, mostly organizational missteps such as failing to hold regular meetings and money mismanagement. The association took 16 hours of testimony after a disgusted colleague filed a 35-page report against him.
The retired Army colonel wasn't a good organizational soldier, but he never shied from controversial issues. He pounded on the theme of improving the environment in county schools for black students. This was one of the reasons the school board hired a new school chief, Stuart Berger, who is viewed as more sensitive to minority students.