A top official of the District's Office of Human Rights characterized the beleaguered agency yesterday as "largely hopeless," and told members of the City Council that $1500,000 could be cut from the agency's 1979 budget without seriously affecting its productivity.
Barry Zamoff, director of the office of research and statistics for the human rights unit, told a City Council committee on public service and consumer affairs that the city must do more than "merely conduct a budget review," and that the agency lacked aggressiveness in handling discrimination cases in the District.
Zamoff's testimony conflicted sharply with that of OHR director James W. Baldwin, who two days ago told the committee that unless the Council restored close to $100,000 that already has been slashed from the 1978 budget that about 13 employees would have to leave, further hampering the agency.
Baldwin said that such a reduction in staff would seriously affect OHR at a time when the agency has come under criticism from both the City Council and the District auditor.
Several months ago D.C. auditor Matt Watson issued a report that asserted that the agency responsible for handling all discrimination cases in the District was "clearly" violating city law because it took an average of 279 days to process a case when the law directed the agency to do so within 120 days.
Council member John Wilson (D-two), who chaired the Council committee reviewing OHR's budget, stated at one point that he favored additional funds for the agency.