- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2001

NEW ORLEANS — Kweisi Mfume will accept a new multiyear contract as president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Chairman Julian Bond announced yesterday to the civil rights group's board of directors.
The 64-member board, meeting at the end of the NAACP's 92nd annual convention here, stood and applauded as Mr. Bond made the announcement.
"There are some small, small details left that we have to work through," Mr. Bond said. "But we are assured that Mr. Mfume will serve us for the foreseeable future and a long way past that. Even when his hair is gray and his back is bent, we hope he can lead us."
The position is lucrative for Mr. Mfume, a former Democratic congressman from Maryland who began his tenure as president of the organization with a five-year contract in February 1996.
"I can't say how much the contract is for, but I am being taken care of," Mr. Mfume said yesterday before the board's meeting. Mr. Mfume said at the outset of the convention that his contract deal was "not as good as Alex Rodriguez, but it's not a minor league deal either."
Insiders estimate his new salary to be nearly $400,000 annually.
The NAACP made several offers before Mr. Mfume accepted the deal. Yet no one — including the board of directors or the organization's 500,000 members — was privy to the details.
"These are personnel issues," Mr. Bond said yesterday. "We don't speak about personnel issues."
Such issues eventually become known to the public because the NAACP's tax-exempt status requires it to divulge salaries of officers and employees who earn more than $50,000 a year on tax forms.
Salary negotiations at the NAACP are as touchy as at any other foundation, said Joe Madison, a longtime NAACP official and former finance director for the organization.
"I can tell you that in conversation with Julian Bond, there was a lot of consternation," Mr. Madison said.
Mr. Mfume's current salary is estimated at around $300,000 a year, but the last published figure is $238,364 in 1998 — the last year tax forms are available.
Some gave Mr. Mfume credit for turning around the NAACP after it fell into deep debt in 1996. The group's debt was larger than the public figure of $3 million, said members of the board of directors at the time.
Yet some officials said the group's debt was being paid off before Mr. Mfume inherited the presidency.
"The fact is, we were on our way out, we were not going to saddle the new CEO with that debt," said Mr. Madison, who was one of several people who helped ease the debt before Mr. Mfume's arrival.
Some NAACP press releases, however, have credited Mr. Mfume with eliminating that debt.
"But on one hand, you have to do that, and on the other, you have to give credit to some of the others that worked to ensure that he didn't inherit that debt," Mr. Madison said.
Mr. Mfume has said he would stay on with the NAACP for "as long as there is work to do and as long as they will have me."

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