Very quietly, the federal judge in the NYC firefighter case, Nicholas Garaufis, has approved a curious tactic by the plaintiffs to advance its racial diversity agenda. As reported in the N.Y.Times (12/22/11), the Vulcan Society will obtain a list of blacks who never completed their applications for the exam. It seems that Vulcan members intend to “encourage” them to complete the filing, apparently by making unannounced home visits. The exam is scheduled for February 27, 2012.
I can’t recall another time when the City was ordered by any court to tap into a racially-restricted channel of applicants for an open-competitive civil service examination.
As a city resident, I wonder why so much attention is paid to the Vulcans, a purely political group, but apparently none to the opinions of the people who actually live in the community that will, supposedly, enjoy the protection of the firefighters.
The article states that the home visits are a “pilot program” that is part of the court’s ongoing oversight of the department’s hiring practices, which have shown a “history of discriminatory testing procedures”. It also said that the federal monitor, Mark Cohen, “found potential value” in the visits, which will serve as an “informal support mechanism” for the underrepresented group. The suggestion was that it’s the kind of thing that non-minorities benefit from every day.
Well, I can think of something else with “potential value”. Why shouldn’t the members of the community compile their own list of qualified but “non-racially categorized” applicants? I checked the city’s website and it said that the filing period for the exam closed on September 15, 2011. But closed for whom? Does this mean that Judge Garaufis has re-opened it, but only for minorities who “incompletely” showed an interest in the job, but then dropped the idea?
Judge Garaufis has seemingly introduced new elements into the court’s oversight of this process: to open a separate channel of racially-screened applicants under exclusive federal control; to seize the administration of civil service laws from city and state agencies; to deny to non-minorities the same opportunity to apply for an open-competitive exam as it extends to minority groups.
However the judge and the Vulcans characterize this unprecedented maneuver, I hope it is tested by renewed public involvement. We should encourage any qualified person looking for a good job, regardless of race, to consider becoming a New York City firefighter, and to apply now, without delay. In other words, let’s “taint” this monitor’s pool and see what he tries to toss back.