NAACP's hard-up Baltimore branch lays off Buntin as executive director

April 08, 1995|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,Sun Staff Writer

Citing a drop in the funds and donations received by the Baltimore City chapter of the NAACP, the branch's executive secretary has been "indefinitely" laid off, according to the branch president.

George N. Buntin Jr., who was the chapter's only full-time paid employee and an active head of the branch for eight years, was laid off March 20, said Rodney A. Orange, the chapter president.

"It was a tough decision for everyone," Mr. Orange said. "Other nonprofits are experiencing the same thing."

The decision to lay off Mr. Buntin was made by the branch's 15-member executive committee, Mr. Orange said. With Mr. Buntin's layoff, the branch has only two paid employees, both part-time office workers.

Mr. Orange, who serves on a volunteer basis as president of the city branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he has assumed many of Mr. Buntin's duties, including overseeing fund-raisers, working with community projects and monitoring committees within the organization to ensure that they function properly.

Mr. Orange stressed that Mr. Buntin's layoff was solely a financial move. Mr. Buntin was not available for comment. Others said they believe the move may not have been entirely a matter of money.

Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., a Baltimore County Democrat and former NAACP National Life Membership director, said the executive secretary's job is a highly visible and demanding position that wears on an individual. "If I had stayed much longer I would have been broken, too," Dr. Burns said. "Money is not always the problem. If you want someone, you find the money. George is a very bright young man."

Another local NAACP official said lagging interest in the local branch forced Mr. Buntin out.

Mr. Buntin's annual salary was more than $40,000, Mr. Orange said. The branch's current monthly operating budget is $5,700. When Mr. Buntin was employed by the organization, the monthly budget was $7,000, with the difference being used to pay Mr. Buntin's health benefits.

All chapters of the NAACP are nonprofit, and rely on contributions, fund-raisers and membership fees for their funding.

This year, however, some of the local group's officials and members said they believe that funding for all of the organization's chapters was slowed because of the controversy involving Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., who was ousted last summer as the national executive director by the group's board of directors.

"It's no question the controversy at the national level hurt our local effort," Mr. Orange said.

In addition to eliminating the position of executive director, the chapter also has scaled back its operating hours and is now open from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

The local branch is having a spring campaign with goals of raising $30,000 and recruiting 3,000 new members.

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