NY Post - May 10, 2012
FDNY critics got what they want: A record number of African-Americans, nearly 8,200, took the recent firefighter exam -- nearly double the figure in 2007.Editorial - FDNY critics got what they want: A record number of African-Americans, nearly 8,200, took the recent firefighter exam -- nearly double the figure in 2007.
So far, so good.
But a key question lingers: Will jobs be offered to applicants who scored the highest on the exam -- or to those who help fill an extremist judge's racial quota?
The answer (no exaggeration) could make a life-or-death difference.
Fact is, there are few places where merit and skill matter more than in the fire service. Seconds count.
And, trapped in a blaze, New Yorkers don't care about a firefighter's skin color; they want the person who's most qualified to save them to be on the job.
Yet Brooklyn federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis thinks that's simply irrelevant.
A few years back, Garaufis all but named himself fire commissioner, claiming the test and the department discriminated against blacks (although he offered absolutely nothing to back up his claim).
Garaufis hired a "special master," ex-US Attorney Mary Jo White, to work with the city to design a test "fairer" to minorities; that exam was given this spring.
Meanwhile, the city redoubled efforts to recruit minorities -- although, for all the time and money spent, it's not clear how effective that's been: The surge in black test-takers, after all, paralleled that of non-blacks who took it.
Yet, the exam -- for whatever reason -- certainly generated an ample number of black applicants to vie for openings.
The question now is, will they be chosen based on their scores -- or their skin?
Garaufis is to decide how to proceed and who, if anyone, gets job offers after the results, and the racial make-up of the top scorers, are known this fall (itself a skewed process that elevates race over merit).
He may opt, for example, to force the city to hire some blacks who score lower than whites, or to scrap the test altogether, as he did with the last one.
Of course, Garaufis long ago put his racialist agenda ahead of the safety and well-being of New Yorkers.
For better or for worse, he wrote the rules for this latest test.
But will he follow them, no matter the outcome?
That remains to be seen.