Since when does failure and mediocrity get rewarded? The answer is when a federal judge and a group of disgruntled New York City employees say so.
An advertisement in Sunday’s (May 13) issue of the New York Daily News announced that any “Blacks or Hispanics who applied for New York City firefighter jobs between 1999 and 2006 may be eligible for money, a firefighter job and seniority to remedy hiring discrimination.”
This is the latest miscarriage of justice stemming from Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis’ decision against the New York City Fire Department in a lawsuit over the department’s written entrance exam. He declared that the test discriminated against minorities and demanded that the FDNY do more to diversify its staff.
The judge’s ruling was based on the fact that the FDNY has an overabundance of white employees. In the end, he sided with members of the Vulcan Society, a fraternal society of black firefighters who filed the discrimination suit, who wanted more blacks on the job.
We all want a Fire Department that reflects the city’s diverse population, but not at the expense of the FDNY’s famously high standards of service. The Vulcan Society firefighters passed the test and were hired, but apparently they are making excuses for those who couldn’t pass the tests so those who couldn’t make the grade are hired anyway.
After the city spent more than $1 million on advertising, 8,186 blacks took the new written test which was given a few weeks ago. Of the 42,161 test-takers, nearly half were women and people of color. How many passed is still not known, and the physical and psychological tests still have to be taken.
But, in the meantime, those who failed past tests are due to be awarded for their failure. The Court has ordered the City of New York to pay up to $128 milliion in backpay damages to black and Hispanic victims of the city’s alleged discrimination, or possibly hire such victims with seniority.
This is such a crock of crap. The standards are being lowered and mediocrity is being accepted for a job in which lives and property are on the line—all for the sake of parity. The people of New York demand a Fire Department filled with the best, the brightest and the strongest, regardless of the color of a firefighter’s skin.
What happened to the civil service system? Has it been judged discriminatory? Why stop with ordering the Fire Department to drop its standards? If we’re going to take skill and intelligence out of the equation when it comes to vital public services, let’s do the same with the other agencies of the city.
Better yet, let’s kill the civil service system entirely and roll the clock back to the Tammany Hall era, where municipal jobs were just handed out to people based on patronage, payoffs or purchase.
Someone in a fire or a medical emergency doesn’t care about the color of a firefighter’s skin—and neither does the FDNY. Parity and diversity do not save lives; bright, brave and strong firefighters from all backgrounds save lives.
The firefighter’s job is not an entitlement. It’s very simple— take the test, pass the test and wait to be called.
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