Two stubborn individuals have done more than anyone to slow the Obama political juggernaut over the last month: Frank Ricci and James Crowley. ...
Interestingly, both Ricci and Crowley are not the kind of folks the Republican Party has focused upon representing in the 21st Century. They are Northeasterners, civil servants, and union men. Indeed, their unions’ strong opposition to the racial spoils system and to racial blackmail has been one of the keys to their fortitude.
The Bush Administration systematically worked to alienate men like Ricci and Crowley, who had worked hard to pass civil service exams.
For example, on May 21, 2007, Bush's Department of Justice filed suit in the name of Bush Crony/Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales charging the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) with violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act...
May I suggest that as a tiny first step in rebuilding a potentially winning coalition, Republicans stop and rethink whether their President should have attacked the Fire Department of New York as racist?
Sure, these firemen are highly paid civil servants with a pushy union, and they’re New Yorkers to boot. But … 343 of them gave their lives on 9/11.
Last Wednesday, July 22, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, a Clinton appointee, gave Bush a belated going-away present by swallowing the Gonzales Department of Justice allegations wholesale and deeming FDNY’s 1999 and 2002 paper-and-pencil employment exams discriminatory against minorities solely on the grounds of Disparate Impact. ...
The judge found the tests discriminatory despite being unable to find any evidence of actual discrimination. Even John Coombs, the head of the plaintiff organization, the black firefighter’s Vulcan Society, couldn’t identify specific problems. Newsday reported:“Asked to point out questions he considered discriminatory on the exam, Coombs said, ‘I'm not going to answer that. It's irrelevant.’ He added, ‘It's a bad exam when the exam gives you … results that are abysmal for diversity.’... The Bush Administration’s claim that the test “is not job related for the position in question” was laughable. Each question is flagrantly job related. (You can see the 1999 and 2002 tests here.)
Thus Diane Cardwell of the New York Times reported on July 23 in Judge Finds Racial Bias in Fire Dept. Recruiting:“New York City used tests that discriminated against black and Hispanic applicants to the Fire Department and had little relation to firefighting, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled on Wednesday.”
Yet, Cardwell’s accompanying feature article in the same issue of the NYT, Racial Bias in Fire Exams Can Lurk in the Details, included numerous complaints that the problem with the FDNY test was that it had too much relation to firefighting:Besides, Professor Primus added, some of that knowledge is not needed to become a good firefighter. … Some of it tends to be knowledge that “firefighting junkies have, even though it is not really necessary for fighting fires.’”
Those darn “fire buffs” keep studying in their spare time how to save our lives. It’s discriminatory!
Cardwell’s explanation in the NYT of what’s wrong with the test can most charitably be read as heavy sarcasm:“Each exam consists of 85 multiple-choice questions about firefighting practices: the order in which a firefighter should don gear in an alarm; what the rear of a building would look like, based on its facade; the right situations in which to say ‘mayday’ rather than ‘urgent’ over the walkie-talkie.
“Nevertheless, a closer look shows that the exams also required applicants to read and understand long passages, often containing technical terms, and then answer questions about them.” [Italics mine.]
Cardwell complains:“One question, for instance, follows a 250-word description of the use and maintenance of portable power saws …”
I’m sorry, but portable power saws, especially the hellacious ones used by firemen to cut through steel and concrete, come with massive instruction manuals much longer than 250 words (owing to decades of product liability lawsuits, as the judge should know).
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