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Judge Rules Recruiting Cannot Solely Reverse FDNY's Discriminatory Hiring

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Calling the New York City Fire Department a "stubborn bastion of white male privilege" and a "shameful blight" on the record of six mayors, a federal judge ordered Wednesday that a court-appointed monitor oversee the department's hiring practices to ensure more diversity over the next decade.

In his briefing, Judge Nicholas Garaufis wrote, "despite progress on diversity in recent recruiting, the department hasn't done enough to reverse discrimination against black and Hispanic candidates."

The monitor will oversee the FDNY's hiring for at least a decade.

Currently, 9 percent of the fire department is black or Hispanic.

The Vulcan Society, a fraternal order of black firefighters, filed suit against the city back in 2002.

The federal government later joined the suit against the city.

"It will make a big difference and we're looking forward to a much more diverse fire department," said Paul Washington of the Vulcan Society.

The judge had ruled the entrance exam was discriminatory and ordered the department to rewrite it.

Garaufis said he is attempting to address what he calls, "friends and family members of firefighter candidates [who] seek to insert themselves in the firefighter candidate-screening process in ways that may disproportionately favor white candidates over black firefighter candidates."

The judge also spent several pages of his deposition judging Mayor Michael Bloomberg, citing a deposition where the mayor denied even knowing what it means to be responsible and could not recall his own policies designed to prevent discrimination.

The jurist also took aim at Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano's "self-congratulatory" testimony writing as an example of the Bloomberg administration's blame-shifting and accountability avoidance on full display.

The mayor strongly disagreed with the ruling.

"The judge was not elected to run this city," said Bloomberg. "No previous administration has done more, or been as successful, in attracting diversity to the fire department."

The New York City Law Department issued a statement saying, "We strongly disagree with the judge's opinion and conclusions, and are reviewing the draft remedial order. We will respond on Oct. 17, as directed by the court, and will appeal as soon as the law allows."

The city has invested a million dollars to improve its recruitment effort and reach out to minority communities. Garaufis said the recent drive has brought some progress, but said it could fall apart in the future.

The judge said he wants an independent review done on recruitment efforts in the future.

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